The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....
In this installment of Page 69,
we put Jessica McHugh's The Green Kangaroos to the test.
OK, Jessica, set up page 69 for us.
At this point in the book, Perry Samson is in Springfield Rehabilitation Hospital for his addiction to a drug called atlys. He's been in this rehab before, sent by the same person who checked him in the first time: his sister, Nadine. But like most of his rehab stints, Perry is unwilling to get sober.
What is The Green Kangaroos about?
"The Green Kangaroos" is about addiction, family, and all the ways we torture each other with good intentions. The story follows Perry Samson, an atlys addict in 2099 Baltimore, as he faces trials from his little sister, mysterious doctors, and a world that has him digging literal chunks out of his flesh to maintain his habit.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what The Green Kangaroos is about? Does it align itself the book’s overall theme?
I was surprised, but it actually does represent the book pretty well. While the story centers on Perry and his addiction, it's also about his family, notably his sister, and their apparent addiction to his sobriety. Nadine is obsessed with Perry becoming the happy person she thinks he should be while Perry wishes she would focus on her own happiness. But when a person's happiness hinges on someone else's actions, it's just too much pressure. This page absolutely illustrates that vicious cycle.
THE GREEN KANGAROOS
“He made his decision.” Nadine wipes her nose, giving me a teary glimpse before facing Collins again. “Let him go.”
“You heard me. He doesn’t want treatment, so his being here is a waste of your energy, my money, and time Perry could be using to kill himself.”
“If he continues down this road, that’s a guarantee,” Collins says. “I want to make sure you both understand that. Perry could die from his next hit.”
“That’s always been a possibility,” I say.
“You see? Let him go. He’d rather be dead than my brother.”
The force field fades, and an orderly loosens my cuffs. I’m still woozy, and my legs are too rubbery to support me. As I fall, I reach out for a helping hand, but Nadine, who would have normally caught me, looks down with her arms crossed in defiance.
Collins helps me back onto the bed. “We can’t release him in this condition. Are you sure you won’t change your mind, Miss Samson?”
“Not unless he changes his.”
I don’t reply. I wish I could change my mind for her, but I can’t. And once I get a hit of atlys, I’ll forget I ever wished it.
“Very well. I have some paperwork you’ll need to fill out. Should I give you some time to say goodbye?”
“That’s not necessary. He’s already stolen enough time from me,” she says. “Goodbye, Bea—” She stops, crinkling her forehead. “’Bye, Perry. I hope you find happiness, no matter what it takes to get there. I know I won’t be happy having to tell Mom and Dad their last son is dead.”
She turns on the word “dead” and marches out of the infirmary, giving me no satisfaction in the speech I’d been waiting years to hear.
“Take him back to his room and give him a nutrient shot. If he’s to be discharged, he’ll be discharged in the best shape possible,” Collins says.
The orderlies grab me, Broken Jaw whipping me against the neighboring bed when he latches on.
“Easy . . .” I groan.
The man scoffs before pulling down his gauze. His top lip is stitched to hell. The clear thread has tangled his enflamed flesh, turning his lip into one only a mustache could love.
Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction spanning the genre from horror and alternate history to young adult. She has had sixteen books published in six years, including her bizarro sci-fi romp, "The Green Kangaroos," and the first two books in her edgy YA series "The Darla Decker Diaries." More info on her speculations and publications can be found at JessicaMcHughBooks.com.