The Ice Crystal Palace
By Willy Paul
The Ice Crystal Palace is a story about the most beautiful kingdom IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! And this is why... You see, up around the North Pole, it is very, very cold outside all year long! So the people living there had to think of new ways to build things and have fun, too!
The Ice Crystal Palace and all of the walls surrounding the kingdom were built out of sculpted ice. Some of the blocks were as big as a small house and some were as small as a grain of sand. But they all had a specific purpose - to reflect the sun’s rays all around the kingdom. The citizens living there knew they only had a few hours of precious sunlight each day, so they wanted to make the very most of it.
The sun’s rays would stream into the kingdom and bounce off the sculpted ice back and forth, creating the most beautiful colors in the rainbow! This would last until the sun went down each day. And every night, the people would build a big fire in the middle of the town and, once again, watch the colors shoot through the air, reflecting off all of the ice crystals from building to building and wall to wall.It was a most beautiful sight to behold, and all of the children loved to chase the rainbows as they bounced around all over the square. The rainbow games were so much fun, and all of the children loved to play every night until it was time for everyone to go home, go to bed, say their prayers, and then fall fast asleep in their warm, soft beds. Everyone agreed the Ice Crystal Palace was by far the most beautiful kingdom anywhere IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
Severely wounded in the Iraq war, Leroy Kervin has lived in a group home for eight years. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, he finds his existence has become unbearable. An act of desperation helps him disappear deep into his mind, into a world of romance and science fiction, danger and adventure where he is whole once again.
Freddie McCall, the night man at Leroy's group home, works two jobs yet still can't make ends meet. He's lost his wife and kids, and the house is next. Medical bills have buried him in debt, a situation that propels him to consider a lucrative—and dangerous—proposition.
Pauline Hawkins, a nurse, cares for the sick and wounded, including Leroy. She also looks after her mentally ill elderly father. Yet she remains emotionally removed, until she meets a young runaway who touches something deep and unexpected inside her.
In crystalline prose, both beautiful and devastating, this "major realist talent" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) considers the issues transforming ordinary people's lives—the cost of health care, the lack of economic opportunity, the devastating scars of war—creating an extraordinary contemporary portrait that is also a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.
Horace Hopper is a half-Paiute, half-Irish ranch hand who wants to be somebody. He’s spent most of his life on the ranch of his kindly guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Reese, herding sheep alone in the mountains. But while the Reeses treat him like a son, Horace can’t shake the shame he feels from being abandoned by his parents. He decides to leave the only loving home he’s known to prove his worth by training to become a boxer.
Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He’s a seventy-two-year-old rancher with a bad back. He’s not sure how he’ll keep things going without Horace but he knows the boy must find his own way.
Coming down from the mountains of Nevada to the unforgiving desert heat of Tucson, Horace finds a trainer and begins to get fights. His journey to become a champion brings him to boxing rings of Mexico and finally, to the seedy streets of Las Vegas, where Horace learns he can’t change who he is or outrun his destiny.
Willy Vlautin writes from America’s soul, chronicling the lives of those who are downtrodden and forgotten with profound tenderness. Don’t Skip Out on Me is a beautiful, wrenching story about one man’s search for identity and belonging that will make you consider those around you differently.