The Crossroads of Logan Michaels
by James M. Roberts
Genre: Coming of Age
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.
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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.
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Writing to me allows me to represent my inner most thoughts when I struggle to explain them in person. Some thoughts can’t be explained as Cleary without writing down exactly how you feel. It’s more therapeutic than anything. Writing allows me to write down how I am feeling at the exact moment and hopefully people can relate to it.
What inspired you to write?
What is your favorite book of all time?
I think having a favorite book all depends on your mood/feelings, and I’m a rollercoaster.
What is something your readers would be surprised to know about you?
I always wanted to be an actor but I have stage fright.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things… and still do. Some days I want to be a world famous writer. Other days a country singer, famous actor, athlete, really depends what mood I’m in that day.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
One day at a time
What advice would you give today’s youth?
Take your time to become who you are. It’s not a race, just enjoy the ride, your time will come.
Where is your favorite place to write?
In the library, by a window
What was your writing process?
Put my fingers on the keyboard and let my mind be free.
What have you found most surprising about the publishing process?
Honestly? It can be a pain in the ass! The work’s never done and the writing is only the beginning.
Which character in your book was most challenging to write about?
My father.. I tried to capture how he felt but not sure how good of a job I did.
What is your favorite scene in The Crossroads of Logan Michaels?
My favorite scene is in chapter 9 I believe. When Logan wakes up miserably hung over and finds the note his mother wrote him. It brings me to tears almost every time.
What have you learned about yourself through writing this novel?
I’m a complicated yet simple man.
What is next for you? Are you working on another book?
Yes. The second volume of The Crossroads of Logan Michaels, where we see Logan work his way through the recovery process and rebuilding a life.
How would you like to be remembered?
Alive and when I truly smiled, if you ever captured that moment…
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