When my grandmother died in 1997, I inheritied her wedding band and her high school yearbook. The blue paper cover was faded and the spine was falling apart, but I carried it around with my other books for years as I moved from country to country for my husband’s job as a foreign correspondent. The yearbook, which for 73 years had sat on a shelf in Charleston, West Virginia, suddenly undertook journeys to Guatemala City, Bogota, Amman, London, Ankara, Bilbao and Geneva.
Every time I moved I would pull it out of its cardboard packing box and look again at the students of 1924, still young and fresh and on the brink of their futures like the last time I’d seen them, and then wonder if any of them could possibly be alive anymore. This always made me feel sad, and exasperated with Time for what it had done, for what it always does, without fail. What a bore. What a predictable, atrocious drag! Why couldn’t Time surprise us with a roundabout every once in a while, or at least a rest-stop? When we moved from London to Turkey, I unpacked the yearbook again, and again stopped to leaf through it. But this time I said, what if? – which is always the way I start a new story. Writing my novel The Yearbook gave me the giddy feeling of cheating time and laughing right in its face – HA! – a sensation I hope will filter through to the reader. As for my grandmother’s yearbook, it has recently repatriated, by mail, to the United States, so that its photos could be used in the design of my website and facebook page.