A Mother's Gift

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9780440237990: A Mother's Gift

Holly Faye Lovell sure can sing. Everyone in Biscay, Mississippi, knows that. And when at fourteen she becomes the youngest student ever to win a scholarship to the prestigious Haverty School of Music, her dream of pursuing a singing career is on its way. But for the first time in her life, Holly must leave behind her mother, Wanda. Although they don’t have much in the way of money, there’s always been plenty of love . . . and there’s always been Wanda’s birthmark, an ugly red scar on the side of her face that makes people who don’t know her turn away. Now that Holly's off with her posh new friends and new life, she’s ashamed to find herself embarrassed by her mom and their humble background. And Wanda finds herself wanting to reveal a long-hidden secret . . . a secret that could destroy their bond forever.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will go to The Britney Spears Foundation.
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

Besides being an author, Britney is that rare phenomenon, a megastar—one who still phones her mom every night, no matter where she is. Not only is Britney the bestselling female artist during any one-week period in music history, but her debut album, . . . Baby One More Time, made her the youngest artist to hit the 10-million mark. Her second album, Oops! . . . I Did It Again, sold more than 1.3 million copies in its first week and to date has sold more than 17 million CDs worldwide.

Besides being the mother of the planet’s biggest superstar, Lynne taught school in Kentwood, Louisiana, for several years before taking time off to be her daughter’s biggest fan. She and her husband, Jamie, are the parents of Bryan, Britney, and Jamie Lynn Spears.

This is Britney and Lynne’s first—but definitely not their last—work of fiction together.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter one

Gossip is the first language in small Southern towns. Biscay, Mississippi, is no exception. Gossip drifts through the schoolyards in whispers and giggles and seeps through the coffee shops and steepled churches. Gossip makes the world go round in Biscay.

Biscay is an itsy-bitsy little place, only ten thousand folks or so. “Biscay is definitely dead” is the usual declaration of anyone under sixteen.

And they’re kind of right.

Biscay’s only connection to a highway isn’t concrete, but two lanes of grooved asphalt with chuckholes deep enough to rupture a glass-belted radial tire. That old road is the reason that no fast-food chain will ever open up in Biscay. There won’t even be one of those major service stations with a food mart and self-service gasoline pumps with slots for credit cards. The biggest business in town, the post office, is the only reason Biscay is even a legal township. There’s no shopping mall in Biscay. You have to take two buses all the way over to Hattiesburg for that.

Kids who grow up in Biscay don’t have much opportunity. Some of them quit school early so they can help their parents farm. A few manage to go away to college. But most of them stay there. Get a job. Get married. Get older.

Life doesn’t change much in Biscay.

One thing Biscay does have is a whispered secret, a nasty rumor that makes mamas shush their children when they mention it. It’s pathetic, most agree, that the biggest thing that ever happened in Biscay is the one thing the town wants to forget. People say that once, a terrible thing happened, and people died.

That’s about all the townspeople will tell strangers. And they tell only those who ask and ask at least twice about the mysterious plot of burned earth still sitting ugly at the edge of Biscay. Maybe, just maybe, the emotional wounds that still run deep will eventually heal.

At least everyone hopes they will.

Because people are people, with hopes and dreams and faith in their hearts and stars in their eyes . . . even those who were born in Biscay, Mississippi.

* * *

“Here it comes, Mama,” fourteen-year-old Holly Faye Lovell said, bumping the side of the old television set with a practiced hip. The fuzzy gray screen blipped out, then blinked back in wavering color. Holly dropped next to her mother on the saggy yet comfortable old brown couch as the familiar toe-tapping notes of The Haverty Talent Hour’s theme song drifted through the small ranch house.

Holly’s mother, Wanda, reached for some hot buttered popcorn from the bowl on the coffee table. “I wonder what we’ll see tonight.”

Holly grinned. Her mom said the same thing every week.

Everyone in Biscay watched The Haverty Talent Hour. It was like a local law or something. Holly thought she’d probably fallen in love with music even before she could walk—her mother had always made sure music was a part of their lives. They woke up to Elvis (born in Tupelo, Mississippi, thank you very much), spent the day bopping along with the Top 40, and drifted off to sleep with some easy listening.

And they had a regular Friday-night rendezvous in front of the TV.

“Sorry, I’ve got a date tonight,” Holly used to tell Tyler Norwood when he had first started asking her to come hang out at the Ten Pin Lanes with his group of friends on Fridays. His face would crumple up each time when she turned him down, and finally she couldn’t keep a straight face any longer and had to tell him the truth—her big date was her mom.

The famous Haverty School of Music and the Performing Arts, located in Hattiesburg, televised a weekly show featuring its best students of music and performance. Each week there was something different. Wanda loved the abbreviated operas, which always brought a smile to her pretty red lips. Neither of them was a huge opera fan (why didn’t singers who were smart enough to learn a foreign language sing in English so listeners could understand them, Holly always wanted to know), but they would both sit in awed silence when one of the students attempted an aria and clap wildly when he or she pulled it off.

Holly loved it when someone chose to perform an old gospel song, letting the emotional power of the words rush over her. She was a fan of country music too, although she could do without songs about people feeling sorry for themselves, songs about getting your foot run over at the bus stop or about how your husband ran off with your best friend and left you barefoot and crying in the kitchen.

Her favorite was pop music, the songs that they played on the radio, songs that got under her skin and made her and her mother jump up and dance, laughing as they bumped into furniture.

Holly had dreamed about being a student at Haverty. Wondered what it would be like to walk out on that stage and belt out a song. But Haverty wasn’t for regular people like her and her mom and their friends were. Haverty was filled with the best and brightest students from all over the country—students whose parents had the big bucks to afford it.

Holly and Wanda had little bucks.

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ISBN 10: 0440237998 ISBN 13: 9780440237990
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Spears, Britney; Spears, Lynne
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