A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day condensed into four hours + “Let Me Explain You” by Annie Liontas

Alexander-Terrible-Horrible-Good-Very-Bad-DayI had a pretty good day Monday, for the majority of the day. I had plenty of coffee, work was relatively easy, both girls got their stuff done with little prodding.

And then it was 3:20. Time to go pick up the younger daughter from camp.

When I left the house for camp, our water was just a trickle. I wasn’t too worried; they were probably doing some kind of work in the neighborhood.

On the way to camp there was a 15 minute traffic jam in our little town because a truck couldn’t properly back out of a driveway. I went through the McDonald’s DriveThru for a Diet Coke, paid for it, and drove off without it (HMMM).

When I got to my daughter’s daycamp, her glasses had been misplaced and were no where to be found. One of the counselors promised to look; he was there overnight.

Pulling into our driveway, I saw a green notice hanging from our front doorknob. Believing it to be a notice for a missed package delivery, I happily walked over to grab it. Nope, it was a notice telling us our water had been shut off for non-payment.

It was late in the day, but I rushed to try to get down to city hall to pay the bill. Talking to my husband on the way, it seems he had paid the bill on his business building twice for a few months, skipping our home by accident (we won’t have a bill for the shop for awhile).

Needless to say I did not make it to city hall in time. No water for the evening.

Back home to finish work and then to  take younger daughter to the library for tutoring. Tutoring went fine (I get an uninterrupted hour of reading time), but when we left the library I was nearly run down by a young person on a skateboard.

I’m not against skateboarding, but the sidewalk is not wide enough and the library, with lots of little ones, is not the place for it (and we have a pretty good skate park about a block away). They were also blaring some questionable music–hardcore rap. Again, all for musical expression, but not this with young kids around (I’m known to blast some old school rap when the girls are not in the car).

This was the cherry on the bad day.

The whipped cream mixed into all this  was some really bad news about a family member–that ended up not being so bad. It was a misworded and misunderstood text, thank goodness. But I didn’t learn all this until the morning.

All of this was within four hours. I got home and shut down. It really wouldn’t have been so bad IF it had been spread out throughout a day. But it was such a short span of time, and one thing after another.

There was wine Monday night. And reading. And quiet. I wanted a bath, but we had no water, so instead I sat in a dark room with my Kindle (that back light on the Paper White comes in handy) and relaxed.

Tuesday morning I ran to city hall, and our water was turned back on within the hour. My daughter’s glasses had been found and were waiting for her when we got to camp. The bad news about my family member was switched around, and it really wasn’t so bad.

What did I learn from this condensed bad day? That everything changes, and bad days get better, and we will survive the ‘little’ things, even if there are about 16 million little things in four hours.

And that I need running water. That’s a given.

Okay, onto Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

A Greek-American story told in alternating voices within the family of a New Jersey diner, Let Me Explain You is a mysterious story with heart and food.

The Premise

Stavros Stavros Mavrakis is a first generation Greek immigrant, working hard to provide a life for his daughters and himself in his tradition Greek diner. When he has a dream of a goat and then a goat arrives at his diner, he is sure death is coming for him. And he prepares, first by writing e-mails to each of his daughters and his ex-wives, attempting to help them in life but instead pointing out all their faults and failures.

After preparing the world for his departure, Stavros disappears. And those around him must search, both physically and in their souls,  in an attempt to find  him and to learn what it being American, and Greek, and a family, means to them all.

The mess that is every family is highlighted in Let Me Explain You. Stavros is a hard headed, egotistical, self-doubting wreck of a man trying to understand and fix his family and himself. His story is alternatively told through the eyes of his eldest daughter Stavroula, his middle daughter Litza, his chef and childhood friend Marina, and his first wife, Dina, who reveal themselves in the process.

The family’s struggles and hopes are highlighted in funny, sad stories that highlight the universal human experiences of grief, loss, love, and family. AND it has a surprising ending, which I didn’t see coming. Wonderful and lovely.

My Thoughts

Liontas creates a wonderful story that sweeps through generations and continents beautifully. Told in alternating voices with wonderful Greek myths and fables thrown into the mix, Let Me Explain You is beautiful–funny, sad, and heartwarming all at different moments. Just like life.

The characters are beautiful and full, the kind that stick with you. The story is interesting and mysterious, and the food described is love on a plate (as it should be).

I give this one four stars. Great debut, Annie Liontas. Can’t wait to see what’s next.


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