How I Grew Up is Melanie’s story. On a February night in 1954, her estranged brother-in-law entered her home with a gun and started shooting. When he left, her mother lay dead, her father was mortally wounded, and another brother-in-law was critically injured. Less than two weeks later, Melanie auditions for her high school’s musical production of Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Carousel. How she wins the leading role of Julie Jordan and performs it brilliantly while her involvement in the show helps her begin to heal is a testament to the power of creativity in our lives.
Eli’s Heart is Krissy’s story. Just a few months prior to that Carousel production, for which she played harp in the orchestra, Krissy had met Eli Levin, a boy her own age born with two burdens: a prodigious musical gift and a frightening congenital heart condition. What seemed to be a budding romance between the brilliant young pianist and the girl he fell in love with during that summer was ended by the interference of his family. But Krissy and Eli manage to find their way back to each other some three years later. They marry while still college students when they are both twenty. Their story is one of learning to live a full life despite the odds against them.
You Are My Song is the story of Melanie’s leading man in Carousel. Jamie Logan had a voice of unusual beauty and seemed destined to become a singer, but his high school sweetheart didn’t want him to sing. Their marriage ended after two years, shattering Jamie’s self-confidence. Jamie comes to realize music is vital to his life and he returns to college to study opera. With the encouragement of his teachers and his new love, Jamie finds the inner strength to pursue a most difficult path, facing both professional and personal challenges along the way.
Excerpt from Eli’s Heart:
Eli had been born with two things: a damaged heart and a heart filled with music. That was how Krissy saw him now, and how she would always think of him. He played for her, and she closed her eyes and opened herself up to the music he was making.
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor began with repeated thick chords and heavy octave passages with large leaps up and down the keyboard, played rapidly. Eli pushed the tempo slightly; he loved doing that, especially with Rachmaninoff. The prelude had a grandeur and sweep to it, and demanded technical facility and strength. As with much of his music, Rachmaninoff slowed the tempo and introduced a beautiful melody, and the music became completely different, almost ethereal.
As soon as Eli started the lyrical section, something happened. He could feel his hands on the keys, he knew Krissy was touching him, but he felt he became a conduit for the music. It flowed through him and around him, opening up time and space. He continued to have a sense of transcendence through most of the section, and then the music gradually returned to the original idea, the sense of being somewhere else left him, and he was again sitting at Krissy’s piano playing Rachmaninoff for her.
When he finished the piece, he sat quietly for a moment. When he turned to look at Krissy, he could tell by the look of wonder on her face that she had made the journey with him. He asked softly, “Did you feel that?” Not wanting to speak, she nodded. They sat close together without feeling any need to talk, knowing what they had just experienced was remarkable.
The feeling stayed with them through the long drive to the Knoxville airport, through the wait for Krissy to board, through the kiss “until next time,” through the drive back to Rachel’s.
Before he went inside, Eli stopped for a moment and closed his eyes, feeling the moment resonate again, the culmination of the time they had together. He felt joy welling up in him. He had brought them back together, and the fairy tale would continue; only now, it would be their life.
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About the author
When Susan Moore Jordan was a high school student in the mid nineteen-fifties in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a close friend went through a shattering event just as she was preparing to audition for the high school’s annual musical. Decades later Jordan used that experience of tragedy to triumph to write her first novel, How I Grew Up, in 2013. Two additional novels followed: Eli’s Heart in 2014 and You Are My Song in 2015, completing “The Carousel Trilogy.” All of her novels are drawn from her life experiences as a voice teacher and stage director and are inspired by real people she has encountered.
After attending the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, Jordan moved from Cincinnati to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania in 1971 with her late husband, a tenor, and their three young children, and established a private voice studio in 1979. She continues to teach and students have gone on to prestigious programs and careers in musical theater, opera, and education.
Jordan began directing musical theater productions for high schools and community organizations in 1984 and directed over eighty productions. She retired from directing in 2015 and wrote about her adventures in “More Fog, Please”: Thirty-One Years Directing Community and High School Musicals, released in November, 2015. A fourth novel, Jamie’s Children, will be released in the summer of 2016.
All of Jordan’s books are available on Amazon in paperback. The novels are also available on Kindle.