Book 1 Among the Jimson Weeds Conor Kelman leaves behind friends and what he loves most. Only images and noises that flash in his head follow as his parents move him from place to place. He finds love and happiness in the move to Roswell, Idaho near the banks of the Snake River. He meets Wylina, the girl he plans to marry, and makes school friends. His best friend is Gabbie, the beautiful Gibson guitar from the Caldwell pawnshop. Convinced the search for something to call his own is over, he dismisses the images and the gnawing inside his gut. Like a bad dream, he is ripped from the girl he loves and the little white house in the apple orchard, and taken from friends. He watches his life disappear from the back seat of the car that follows the truck with their belongings. Conor shares his pain with Gabbie, his only comfort. The guitar and the ghost of Red Nolan that followed Gabbie from the pawn shop are all he has other than the images and noises in his head. No matter where he goes or how fast he runs the images with their fear and disappointment follow.
Book 2 Between the Pieces Conor struggles to fit in at Middleton High. He meets a circle of quirky friends that reminds him of the program, "Days of Our Life" his mother tunes in on the radio. He feels like an outsider as life becomes a merry-go-round that never slows enough for him to jump on board. He stops relying on Red Nolan's advice when the ghost begins talking like a parent more than his once trusted friend. Images of Wylina haunt and torment him day and night. He hates her, but since that night she appeared at the basketball game, he watches for her. He fights the occurring pain and depression in ways he learned as a child. He runs. He sings Hank Williams' sad songs. He is drawn to his weird friends with the force of a magnet, but beer and sex wear off while the images and pain remain. Conor meets the barber and owner of the Reed and Bell, and is mesmerized by the musician. As he talks music inside the drive-in restaurant, images of Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley play in Conor's head. The images are replaced with his own image and Conor feels the force of a new energy surging within.
Book 3 Within Time Conor follows his dream and joins "Donny and the HotRods." The record Running Nowherebecomes a local hit. Gigs are booked in Bakersfield, Boise, and Los Angeles. It isn't always country, but it's always fun. He loves the fans, girls and after hours parties, but the barrage of movies and noises play in his head constantly. The glitter dims as travel and schedules drain his energy. He can't fall asleep, he can't stay awake. He handles it the way he can, but Donny and Red Nolan disapprove. Conor's head fills with decisions only he can make. Maybe he should leave the HotRods to escape Donny's harping. Abandoning Gabbie is the only way to get away from Red Nolan. Should he go to Caldwell to see the man on his death bed that he once called Dad, or live with the guilt? Buried inside is the childhood memory of happiness and joy he found with Wylina and the little white house in the apple orchard. If he could return to that time, or capture that feeling, perhaps it would stop him from the destructive path taken by Red Nolan, and his hero Hank Williams.
Among the Jimson Weeds
Get to know Conor Kelman, a young man coming of age in the 50s. Discover the triumph and trauma that Conor faces every day. Between being misunderstood and not learning how to deal with his issues, Conor is in a constant state of awkward discomfort. Outwardly, Conor searches for something to call his own--his girlfriend, his guitar, a little white house in an apple orchard. Inwardly, Conor hangs from a cliff by his fingertips. The visions that play in his head haunt and distract him. They won't stop no matter how fast or far he runs.
I need you to keep me on the road. I drive fine, the problem is I can't see.~Constance Erwin
My dad won't take me hunting because he thinks I'd shoot him. My mom says the shit in my head wears her out--I hear a hundred times a day how stupid, how different I am.~Conor Kelman
If I was going to open a whorehouse on this street, that's where I'd put it.~Victor Fanelli
I lied about my age, not about being stupid. I'll be fourteen in October, but I feel sixteen.~Conor Kelman
If you drop out of school I'll kick your ass so hard you can't find it.(Mr. House)
The second I turn sixteen no one can make me go.(Conor)
I can kick your ass no matter what age you are.(Mr. House)
Conor Kelman and teacher, Calvin House
My head spun like a roulette wheel for three days searching its way through the wall between insanity and reality. My mind and my body were like two separate people going separate ways, jerking me from one to the other. I sat on the black bench hunched over Gabbie, the only semblance to living I could muster.~Excerpt from Chapter Thirty-Six