THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF A LEAF
YA Coming of Age
During a school lockdown, seventeen year-old Leif Garneau panicked and jumped four floors from his logic class. Now he can’t get his life back together. With a recent breakup and a hiatus from high school, Leif dedicates his time to long-boarding in Long Beach, California and listening to the perpetual alarm in his skull.
An emotionally vacuous family and a crappy job at the local flower shop only amplify his feelings of expiration. So when his rock star brother unexpectedly returns, Leif eagerly asks to join him on his next tour. The pastel graveyards, alleyway discothèques, cobblestone streets, and shimmery Mayan folklore of Merida, Mexico should make for a great escape, but Leif feels unhappier than ever. Then he meets the girl in B-6, Cleo.
An avid visitor of apothecaries and an awkward dancer, Cleo is brimming with irresistible quirks—and with her innate sparkle and penchant for writing romances on her legs, she could quite possibly be Leif’s answer to mental unrest. But through a series of conversations with strangers and misplaced journal entries, Leif slowly delves into Cleo’s past of abandonment and arson, eventually learning that she is just as screwed up as he is. Leif knows they can only harm each other, but will he take the risk and love her?
The alarm has been ringing for eight months now. I hear it while I’m sleeping. I hear it when I’m sorting orchids at the shop and in my sister’s clarinet playing. I hear it now as my girlfriend calls my name. I’m not going to look back; it’s embarrassing. This, however, is just one bead on the string of bad karma that followed my stepping on a monarch butterfly. I know because after I drilled it into the pavement with the heel of my shoe, a bird shitted on my bike. After that, an old man flashed me his tits and a stranger paged me with a death threat (they paged ‘just kidding, Julie’ afterward, but still).
Disoriented, I amble onto the public lawn where I find Neil Demarco. He’s sitting on a bench with a beer bottle between his knees and with a faraway look in his obtruding eyes like how did I get out here? His Vespa is fixed beside him along with a garbage bag filled with plastic bottles. I get to the tree that looks like an oversized ginger, our eyes convene, and I start walking toward him.
I get to the bench and sit beside him, which is strange because Neil’s my mother’s boyfriend and I don’t like him. Meanwhile, the neighborhood is engaged in its routine multifariousness. Barb and her twin boys are stacked on a picnic blanket, Dr. H is walking his slobbery German shepherd, and a congregation of Korean exchange students is huddled around a cardboard sailboat. “Les Plumes,” the local yoga club, is collectively bent over—pink and sky blue and black speed bumps taking in whatever sun is still beating at six p.m. on Ocean Boulevard.