Hole in the Middle written by Kendra Fortmeyer, publisher Atom (an imprint of Little, Brown) is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.
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Morgan Stone was born with a hole in her middle. A perfectly smooth patch of nothing where a something should be.
After seventeen years of fear and shame, doctors and nurses, ‘peculiar’ not ‘perfect’, she has had enough of hiding.
One night, among a sea of bodies and lost in a moment of blissful abandon, she finally bares all.
A few photos uploaded to social media is all it takes to create a media frenzy. Overnight, Morgan becomes #holegirl.
And then she meets a boy who is literally her perfect match. They could be each other’s cure. But can he truly make her ‘whole’?
Feisty, feminist and downright different, Hole in the Middle is the story of what happens when a girl who is anything but ‘normal’ confronts a world obsessed with body image and celebrity.
I’m so pleased to welcome author Kendra Fortmeyer to my blog today:
The Holes Inside Us (Form Constellations We Feel, Not See)
My first novel, Hole in the Middle, began as a short story for a class. The week before I was to turn it in, I met with the instructor and blurted, “I’m working on a story about a girl who has a hole through her torso.” He raised his eyebrows and, optimistically reading his skepticism as encouragement, I blurted, “A hole that – it goes straight through. Like, if she were standing in front of a book case, you could read the titles on the shelf behind her.”
The teacher in this tale is an established American fabulist, a weaver himself of strange tales and fictions. He assigned us readings in Barthelme and Cortazar and Michaux and frequently exhorted us to read Philip Roth’s “The Breast” (in which a man spontaneously transforms into a human breast); if anybody understood what I was about, I thought, he’d be the one.
My teacher, who’d been hunched forward in his chair with the seriousness and demeanor of a praying mantis, leaned slowly back, running a hand through his shock of white hair.
“I cannot imagine,” he said, “How in the world you’re going to pull that one off.”
It’s a response I haven’t stopped hearing in the five years since I took Pete’s class, even after I signed with a firecracker agent – even after selling the book to a fantastic editor with Little Brown’s YA imprint Atom Books. The core concept of the book – the girl with a hole in her middle –strikes people as anywhere from interesting to odd. It’s not quite fantasy (the world of the book is quite ordinary; the hero does homework and wastes time on Facebook and falls in and out of love on gum-stained sidewalks), but unless there are hordes of toroid people secretly roaming the streets, realism, it’s not quite realism, either.
It’s a bit uncomfortable, this uncategorizability. We’re not sure what to do with what we can’t understand.
This is a problem the novel’s protagonist, a girl named Morgan, grapples with regularly: when a piece of you is missing, where do you fit? Throughout the course of the book, she both resists and embraces the idea that the hole in her middle is a metaphor for something: she believes both that she is undefined by her body and that she is limited by it; that she is simultaneously a whole person, and also that she is strange, is unlovable, that some key part of her is lacking.
In many ways, the novel is a portrait of myself in my teens and twenties, and my friends and classmates. We were, all of us, shaped by yearning: an obsession with what we were and weren’t yet. Experimenting, laughing, raging, playing, trying desperately to figure out how to become the selves we didn’t yet know we needed to be.
It’s a portrait of myself even now.
In the novel, the hole and the sense of lack is tied closely to the body, as it often is in Western culture. We’re told since we’re young that there is a physical ideal, and all of the ways in which we fall short of it are personal failures. The novel – and before that, the story – is a rallying cry against all that, for young women especially, but also for people of any age, anywhere. It’s the story of a girl looking at her body and saying, Stop defining me and Enough is enough and This hole is not a flaw; it’s merely space to grow.
Writing it has made me feel whole.
A week after meeting with my instructor, I handed my story into the class. He met with me later, shaking his head.
“I didn’t have any clue how you were going to pull that off,” he said, and laughed his wonderful old Christopher Walken laugh. “This wasn’t quite what I expected. But it works, you know. It works.”
The flaws in us – and that which we are told are flaws, are wanting, are anything-other-than-perfect – are far from it: the gaps in the cardboard cutouts between ourselves and “ordinary” are the spaces that make us who we are. Embrace them, own them, grow into them. Your whole self will thank you.
Wow, this book sounds fascinating and very topical. Thank you so much to Kendra for revealing more about the insight behind the story.
To find out more about Kendra Fortmeyer please visit the following pages: