Come In and Cover Me
When Ren was only twelve years old, she lost her older brother, Scott, to a car crash. Since then, Scott has been a presence in her life, appearing as a snatch of song or a reflection in the moonlight. Now, twenty-five years later, her talent for connecting with the ghosts around her has made her especially sensitive as an archaeologist. More than just understanding the bare outline of how our ancestors lived, Ren is dedicated to re-creating lives and stories, to breathing life into those who occupied this world long before us. Now she is on the cusp of the most important discovery of her career, and it is ghosts who are guiding her way. But what do two long-dead Mimbres women have to tell Ren about herself? And what message do they have about her developing relationship with a fellow archaeologist, the first man to really know her since her brother's death? Come In and Cover Me is the moving story of a woman learning to let go of the past in order to move forward with her own future.
Written with the same warmth and depth of feeling that drew readers to The Well and the Mine, Phillips's debut, Come In and Cover Me is a haunting and engrossing new novel.
-Kate Christensen, Elle
The Soundtrack of Memory
Come In and Cover Me revolves around a woman who needs to deal with the ghosts of her past. Her brother, long dead, is still very much a presence in her life, and her memories of him are wrapped up in his music—Dylan, Springsteen, The Sex Pistols.
My childhood soundtracks were not so sophisticated, but I do feel the pull of them. There’s something about music that sharpens memory, that makes it easier to grab and hold onto. When my parents divorced, my father took one record with him: the Oak Ridge Boys. On my weekends with him, we listened to it constantly. I liked it just as much when we turned off the record, and Dad sang by himself. My father has a fantastic voice, and he could really blow the roof off the place when he hit the “Oom Poppa Oom Poppa Mow Mow” part of “Elvira.” Thirty years later, I hear a few chords of the Oak Ridge Boys, and I can taste the cans of fruit cocktail and Vienna sausage sandwiches we always ate—he wasn’t much of a cook. I can feel the rough upholstery under my thighs as I perched on the arm of his red recliner. I can feel the joy of seeing him after two weeks apart. The sounds of the past seem to make the smells and textures—and hopes—all come rushing back, too.
When I was six, my mother and great-aunt convinced me to let them give me a permanent because they said it would make me look like Dolly Parton, my idol. Just for the record, they were big fat liars. Frizzy-headed and heartbroken, I stumbled around singing “9 to 5” for days. It gave me some relief, and it’s still a song that comforts me immensely. Then there were my grandmother’s earnest lullabies. She didn’t know many songs, so I fell asleep almost exclusively to “Home on the Range” and “You Are My Sunshine.” The line “Please don’t take my sunshine away,” would make me bawl because it made me think that my grandmother might die. Sometimes I would run from the bed and hide under the dining room table for an hour or so, inconsolable. Eventually she started leaving out that line, but when I hear it today, it still makes me want to crawl under something.
This book is about memory and family and love and ghosts, and there’s a reason a ghost sometimes announces itself with a snatch of song or a wordless hum. A familiar melody or voice can bring back the past—or just our past selves—with all the attached love and longing and regret. I think music can summon ghosts for us all.
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