the Life and Death
Joann Shea has lived next door to Terry Dodd all her life. To everyone else he's just another next-door neighbor, another drunk in Los Angeles, another human in California. But he's different, and fourteen-year-old Joann is the only one who seems to think so.
But when Joann's dad is hospitalized after a disastrous explosion on the interstate, Uncle Barry comes to take care of the family affairs. Joann is determined to keep her mother's domineering brother from taking complete control of her family. She discovers all too soon his answer to everything is violence.
All seems lost, until the drunk next door proves to be more than just a drunk, and Joann learns that sometimes the most unlikely people are the most extraordinary.
This novelette is perfect for fans of Sarah, Plain and Tall, and The Secret Life of Bees
Available in Kindle ebook and paperback
"This one was gritty and real. The authenticity leaped off the page when I read it. The characters have dimension, the story is wholly plausible. There are unexpected elements, like how the protagonist's family, blue collar though they are, enjoys literary classics together. The characters and plot are credible, but not predictable." CJ Julson
"K.M. Updike's prose shimmers with life and you can taste and smell and feel the hot 1970's Los Angeles summer setting as she describes it." Nina C.
"This story has everything I want in a book--vivid scenes so real I am in them, characters that could walk right off the page . . . " C. Upton
"Beautiful in its simplicity, delicately written, yet powerfully striking. It's a unique message, but one we all need. Kayla also captures the time period and setting perfectly." Emily Weston
"The Life and Death of Terry Dodd" is short, but explores some pretty deep themes about humanity and empathy. This is definitely a character-driven story that focuses on ordinary, everyday conflicts (and heroes), so don't expect a lot of dramatic plot twists--but that's not what the story is aiming for, and what it does aim for it does excellently." K. Kline
"This book was not at all what I was expecting. The subjects into which it delves are not shallow, but are real, heartwarming, and also heartbreaking. The author did an excellent job of bringing the characters and setting alive for me. I felt the emotions - I giggled and also cried. Definitely worth the read - I highly recommend it." Denielle Johnson
"The heart and soul of the characters shine through in every page. You can feel the California heat and the fear and the joy in little Joann's heart as she struggles to understand this mysterious man. K.M. Updike has crafted a beautiful, simple work of art that I will return to again and again." Laura Brown