Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Railroad Ties: Broken Hearts And Mended Lives"

Luana Lundquist-Rowland is a licensed Jungian-trained marriage and family therapist. The Burlingame resident lived in Oroville from 1949 through 1970. She's written a fictionalized autobiography of her early years that aims to recapture the spirit of her irrepressible brother--before the darkness of alcoholism sets in.

"Railroad Ties: Broken Hearts And Mended Lives" ($26.95 in paperback from Outskirts Press,; also for Amazon Kindle) presents the ups and downs of an American family, visiting relatives by rail, during World War II and on into the 1950s. The story begins with Luana, five years old, born in 1937, and Jimmy, born a year later. Jimmy is "a needy, fussy, and irritable infant," and such traits continue to manifest themselves throughout Jimmy's life. For the author, there's a kind of fate at work here.

Eventually the family moves to Oroville. Tragedy strikes on March 4, 1950 when a group of girls from the Y hike to the upper Thermalito Bridge, then down to the water. One of the girls slips and falls, and she is pulled out by Deanna. But then "Deanna is caught in an undertow; this whirling surge of water sucks her down below the surface." There is no news  until August, when Deanna's remains are discovered. "That summer, Jimmy loses faith in a God that answers prayer."

Time moves on. Luana prepares to attend Chico State College. Jimmy is popular in high school but he can't resist the alcohol provided by the older boys. His addiction would become his demise.

In an Epilogue, the author writes of Jimmy that he "is born a rascal," but he also "plays the brother and the life teacher of a sister that becomes a better person for having known him in all his multiplicities of character."

In the end, the story isn't about Jimmy's destiny "as a seemingly bottomless, hopeless and incurable alcoholic." Rather, it's about "a shared childhood and a love between a brother and sister that never falters, no matter what."

Luana Lundquist-Rowland will be at the Book and Wine Pairing, Saturday, November 19, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at Purple Line Urban Winery, 760 Safford Street in Oroville; for details visit

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