Release day is almost here! To help you get excited about The Photograph, here is an excerpt from the first chapter.
Rachel walked through the front door into the living room. A huge banner that read Congratulations hung there with balloons attached on both sides. She walked toward the kitchen and spotted Papa and Nana reading at the table. Rachel opened her mouth and was about to speak when she noticed the bright blue Happy Birthday banner hanging across the kitchen cabinets. Taped to the banner was her school photo from a few years ago, with the caption, Aren’t you glad these days are over? Happy Birthday! It was the worst picture of her in existence. She had a bowl haircut and was wearing big blue glasses.
“Did you have to bring that photo out again?”
“Yes, you know I love that photo,” Nana said.
“Oh dear. I like the banners, though. Couldn’t decide what to celebrate?”
“No. I wanted to celebrate both and ran out of space in the living room,” Papa said.
“I love it. We should leave it up until Christmas.” Rachel knew that would never happen. Nana liked to keep her house tidy.
“Let’s compromise on Halloween,” Nana said. “Actually, Rachel, while I’m thinking of it, could you bring the Halloween costumes and decorations downstairs from the attic?”
“Sure, but first let me tell you what Brent got me for my birthday.”
“Oh, that’s why you are grinning from ear to ear. Let me guess.”
“You won’t guess,” Rachel said. “He got us tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters!” She ran over to the table and handed her grandparents the tickets. Rachel opened the door to the pantry and shoved a couple Oreos into her mouth.
“Wow, I think that Brent guy has you figured out. Don’t eat too many cookies, you will spoil your dinner,” Nana said, her blue eyes twinkling.
“No, I won’t. Cookies never fill me up. What’s the plan for dinner?” Rachel asked.
“Bad Apple Grill,” Nana said.
“Ooooh, Bad Apple. My favorite! When are we leaving?”
“Whenever you want,” Nana said.
“Okay, let me grab the Halloween boxes, then we can go.”
“Sounds good, I will get Papa moving,” Nana said.
The attic door was in the hallway on the second floor. Rachel pulled the rope; the ladder didn’t budge. She pulled harder a second time, and the ladder swung to the ground.
Rachel climbed the ladder and hoisted herself into the attic. She scanned the room but didn’t see any traces of ghosts or zombies; she was surrounded by dust, cobwebs, and her archenemy—spiders. She needed to get out of there quick, but the boxes were stacked three high and covered the attic. She noticed some were labeled—Christmas, decorations, Robbie. Without a box marked Halloween in sight, she started with the unlabeled boxes.
The first box was filled with clothes—probably her father’s clothes. She sighed. Sixteen years and her grandparents were still hanging on to her father’s belongings. When would they move on?
Rachel saw another unlabeled box taped shut. The box was too small to hold costumes or decorations, but her curiosity got the best of her. She ripped the tape off the box. Inside the box were hundreds of loose photographs.
Nana and Papa were photography buffs, and even with the advent of digital photography, they still preferred using film. They brought their camera everywhere and took turns shooting photographs on trips and events. When they returned home, Nana developed all the photographs. On cold winter nights, the Brandts sorted through the boxes of photographs and retold the stories captured in the pictures. But a few years had passed since the last time Nana and Papa had rolled out the boxes and albums of photographs.
Rachel rifled through the box for a few minutes. Pictures of Rachel at all stages of life dominated the contents. She saw herself covered with icing and cake on her second birthday. In another photo, Nana, Papa, and a seven- or eight-year-old Rachel held up a giant walleye on the boat. She dug around a little bit more and saw a picture of her father that caught her eye. He was wearing his Marine Corps dress-blue uniform, a grin on his face and his arm wrapped around a beautiful woman. Rachel didn’t recognize the woman, but her face had a familiar look. The woman was stunning; her light brown hair was pulled back, highlighting her bright, brown eyes. She wore a long black dress that accentuated her tall, thin figure. Rachel couldn’t remember ever seeing this photo before tonight; she took the photo, shoved it into her sweatshirt pocket, and shut the box.
The Photograph releases June 17. Learn more about the book here.