Contemporary Fiction, Family Saga
Publisher: Koehler Books
Published: September 15, 2018
After growing up heartbroken with an endless series of struggles, Maria Michaels creates a picture-perfect family of her own. But life changes too quickly, and she loses her grip on herself and her two troubled sons. In spite of her desire to give them a better life, they spiral downward on the paths they choose. They must fight through sadness, mistakes and tragedy to find redemption and the love that only a mother can give. Told from a dual perspective of mother and son, we follow the family’s battles with divorce, drugs and depression. You will laugh and cry, and probably want to call your mom to tell her you love her.
Praise for The Crossroads of Logan Michaels:
“Sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, but always gritty and real, The Crossroads of Logan Michaels examines a bright young man’s downward spiral into addiction; the forces that drive him to drinking and drugs, and ultimately the forces that may guide him back out. Thumbs-up for this debut!” – James Frey, best-selling author of A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, and Bright Shiny Morning
AGE OF INNOCENCE
Being in a new town, and leaving all of my old friends, scared me. I knew I was good at baseball and basketball, but I worried whether I would still be good in North Andover.
Summer was ending, but I couldn’t complain. We’d had fun times camping in Maine, while my little brother, Jared, and I got into mischief. My friends from Andover called me and said we should still hang out, even though we would be in different towns.
The summer came to an end and I was ready for third grade at my new school. Monday arrived and I looked out the window at the playground and saw all the kids. Living across the street from the school wasn’t all that bad. I grabbed my bag and kissed my mother and high-fived my dad before walking over to the school yard. There was a steep hill I slowly ran down, and then I ran across a field of kids kicking a soccer ball. I aimlessly walked around, checking out the playground, kicking my feet, and watching the kids play before the bell rang. Our house was so close that I could see my mom staring through the window at me.
The bell rang as I watched kids line up. We “pledged allegiance” outside and then walked to class. Being the new kid sucks, I thought, as I sat down next beside a boy named Grant.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Logan,” I said.
“Got a last name?”
“Michaels. My name is Logan Michaels.”
“You play any sports?”
“Yeah, baseball and basketball,” I replied.
“You any good?”
I laughed and said, “Let’s play at recess and find out.”
Recess arrived; we grabbed the basketball immediately and ran over to the hoops. After a couple of shots, the fifth-graders came over and tried to kick us off the court. Grant and I were not giving up that easily, though, and we said, “Let’s play for it.”
They laughed as they confidently threw the ball to me.
I caught it and shot. SWISH!! The game started out with two people watching, and by the end of recess, Grant and I had the whole recess crowd around us cheering. “ICE! ICE! ICE!” the older kids yelled. My last shot was in the air as everyone was watching: game point and SWISH!
We won by one point, and that day established my new nickname, Ice, because I had taken about twenty shots and had missed only two. The older kids said that we could play with them anytime, and I became popular on my first day. I ran home right after school, ready to tell my mom everything.
I walked in the house and saw Jared playing in the kitchen while my mom prepared dinner. The fall air was warm and crisp, with a sourdough bread smell lingering. I threw my bag down and told my mother about my day. She smiled and looked content as she continued to cook dinner. My mother would always smile when she saw me and Jared. We would hang out until dinnertime, and wait for Dad to come home. We would play video games, run around the house, and play in the yard; we always had so much energy.
My dad would come home, kick off his work boots, kiss my mom, and roughhouse with us. We typically tackled him as soon as he came through the door. Jared and I would lose to Dad, of course; he seemed like the strongest guy in the world.
After dinner, we would rush outside to play basketball with our small hoop in the yard until it got dark. My mom would yell out the window about how we needed to do our homework, and we would come inside once the sun set.
Realizing that I might have a career in basketball, I had Dad sign me up for the North Andover booster club team. We walked into tryouts; he was definitely the youngest father in there, being only twenty-eight years old. Most dads were in their late thirties.
As tryouts began, he introduced himself to the fathers. Everyone made the team, but I guess the tryouts were to see how they could split up the kids to make fair teams.
After waiting a week for the results, I finally received a call from Mr. Stone, the coach of the Hawks. He welcomed me onto the team, told me the practice schedule, and said, “See you there, Logan.” I hopped off the phone and ran into my parents’ room to tell them the good news. I jumped on the bed and then noticed something strange: my mother was crying and my father was rubbing her back with a worried look on his face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. My mom hugged me. My brother walked in quietly, looking unsettled as he hugged my mom and dad.
“It’s my mom, Nana,” she said. “She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is very sick.”
“What’s Alzheimer’s?” I asked.
“It makes you forget who you are, Logan.” I was confused, but just hugged my mother back as she wiped her tears.
We had been a tight-knit family before moving. My mom and dad grew up on the same street and met when they were children.
My grandparents on both sides were always coming over to visit us, and we would go to their houses. We even went to church with them on Sundays. Jared and I called my mother’s parents “Nana” and “Papa;” we called my father’s parents “Granpy” and “Grammy.” I was closest to Nana.
Sitting in my room that night, I didn’t know whether I should be excited for basketball season, or sad for my Nana. It made me understand that pleasure and pain always went hand in hand.
One minute you’re up, and the next, you’re down, I thought as I shut my eyes.
We all visited my Nana that weekend, and I just couldn’t look at her the same way I had before. She was no different, but when I saw her, all I could think about was the Alzheimer’s and about whether she would one day forget me. It made me sad to see her like this, and to then look over at Papa and see him in the rocking chair shaking his knees; it was nice to see that he was smiling. He would always talk so loudly; I guess he had trouble hearing, but was never afraid to say what was on his mind.
Several cousins and their parents were visiting Nana and Papa. There were so many kids of similar ages on my mom’s side of the family. My mother had two brothers and a sister, and between them they had six kids, all roughly my age. We would spend the holidays together and go camping on the Cape and have a blast playing sports.
I was the closest with my cousin Tim. We would sleep over at each other’s house all of the time, and would often get in trouble together. We would talk about being confused when we found out that Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but agreed that we couldn’t tell any difference in her behavior.
It was always a bit scary visiting my father’s side of the family. Some days, we would go over there after visiting Nana’s and Papa’s house. Dad’s parents’ house was old and scary, but must have had a million rooms. It had an old bar with tools and old rusty cars, which was kind of creepy. There was a large pit underneath the garage and I always wondered what the heck was down there, but was too afraid to go see.
My dad had three sisters and a brother, and they had seven kids between them. I was closest to Ryan, but he wasn’t really into sports like my cousin Tim and me. Ryan was more occupied with playing in the garage with tools, making traps, and playing in the woods. The one thing that really got my blood pumping was the rope swing the two of us had made.
It was attached to a tree above the garage, directly over a pit.
We would swing over the pit, twenty feet in the air; it was such a rush. My brother Jared always wanted to try, but I would never let him. I tended to be kind of hard on him because he wanted to be right next to me all of the time.
About the Author
James M. Roberts wanted to prove that you don’t need to be a college scholar or a perfect writer to put your heart on paper even when it is hurting the most. James’s experiences have inspired him to tell his story in order to reach young readers suffering from insecurity, sadness, and addiction. Not only did James drop out of high school, but he also stumbled into deep depression early in his adolescent life. Although he had been an all-star athlete, he was far from happy. He ended up making regrettable choices in order to feel a sense of belonging and worth, especially following his parents’ separation. Through it all, James knew that one day he was going to share his “misery” with the world. He struggled through life’s lessons and finally put himself through college to earn a business degree and currently has a successful career in sales. James finished his first rough draft at twenty-five while in college. Five years later he erased all 200,000 words and started from scratch. He currently resides in Woburn, Massachusetts, where he continues to thrive and develop his writing.