Belonging is a story about the events that transform our lives: the innocence and heartache of your first love, the confusion and sadness of a cherished friendship slipping away, the way we are all shaped by the places we come from, and the fierce desire to make a family when your own family has failed.
Jenny is thirteen when an epic dust storm rolls into her central California town in December 1977. Bedridden after contracting a life-threatening illness in the storm and suffering a shocking loss, Jenny realizes she will never be cared for by the mother who both neglects and terrifies her or the father who allows it. She relies on her cousin, Heather, who has the loving home Jenny longs for; her beloved great-uncle, Gino, the last link between generations; her best friend, Henry, a free spirit with whom she shares an inexplicable bond; and earnest baseball star, Billy, who becomes her first love. After a stunning turn of events in both their lives, Jenny and Henry leave for college in LA together in the summer of 1982—Jenny fleeing a broken heart, and Henry running from something he can’t reveal, even to his best friend. When she returns home years later, the life Jenny so carefully created collides with the one she left behind.
Spanning three decades, Belonging is about first love and heartbreak, friendship and secrets, family and forgiveness, hometowns and coming of age, and memory and music. The heart of the story is Jenny’s struggle to undo the binds of a childhood that have deeply affected her life, the painful path to love endured by children raised in alcoholic families, and the grim reality of believing you must hide a part of yourself in order to belong.
About the Author
Born and raised in Bakersfield, California, Jill Fordyce received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Southern California and a law degree from Santa Clara University. While practicing law, she continued to study writing through the Stanford Continuing Studies creative writing program. Belonging is her debut novel.
Jill and her husband, Craig, have five adult children and live in California and Tennessee.
“Fordyce captures the complexities of both love and forgiveness as well as the painful ways the events of the past can't help but color our present-day lives. BELONGING is a wise, uplifting, and deeply compassionate novel with characters so vivid they feel like part of your own family.”
— Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas
“Belonging is a moving and original story of a girl coming of age and learning who she is in a family wracked with tension, set against a California landscape from the seventies to the present, chronicling the history of that time and place as much as its indelible characters. Jill Fordyce is a sensitive and beautiful writer and a novelist to watch.”
— Malena Watrous, author of If You Follow Me