The Skissley Books

Child of the Universe

The Skissley Diaries; Child of the Universe

 

Overview: Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Skissley is the oldest of four children born to a hard-working Nebraska farm couple. The family is of modest means and Skissley’s material possessions are few. She does however possess two rare and priceless gifts: her talent to write and her remarkable insight, the latter blessing her with wisdom far beyond her age. These special gifts, combined with her keen observations of the people, events, and magnificent nature surrounding her, result in a unique perspective of life in mid twentieth century Middle America, and Skissley captures it all in the pages of her beloved diaries. But being only twelve after all, as well as inherently honest, she also manages along the way to spill the beans on many family secrets, some of which are dark and painful. Then, too, there is that notorious river town of Rulo nearby, with the majority of its population of hangers-on comprised of eccentric and unsavory misfits. Though these characters with their questionable lifestyles reside but a stone’s throw from Skissley, they are worlds apart from her. Yet few among them will escape her scrutiny or the veracity of her pen. While it seems that Skissley is merely divulging colorful tidbits of life within her tiny sphere, it soon becomes obvious that what she is really revealing— unintentionally—are the inner workings of her own soul, and that she is, in fact, a true Child of the Universe…
 
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What Lies Within

The Skissley Diaries; What Lies Within

 

Overview: Skissley lives the simple life of an isolated Nebraska farm child. While in truth the simple life is fraught with cold, hard realities, and while Skissley herself is outgrowing her simple childhood and becoming a young lady filled with angst, she outwardly remains as gentle, quiet, and easygoing as ever. She still loves the same activities she enjoyed as a youngster, like a walk in the woods with her dog, Spotty, or a visit to the hayloft to listen to the sweet purring of the barn cats, or riding her ancient, hand-me-down bike down the hill with no brakes, just to feel the wind against her face. From outward displays such as these, Skissley appears just to be a childlike, simple person. But simple is not simpleminded. And Skissley is anything but simpleminded! In fact, quite the opposite is true. It has been said that simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. Profound thought is commonplace to Skissley, and has been ever since she can remember. But with no frame of reference in her remote world, she is incapable of recognizing such thoughts as unique or unusual, and especially for a child! To Skissley, her thoughts are just simply her thoughts, and she confides them to no one except her diary. As a result, no one is aware that profound thought and a timeless wisdom are actually what lie within the young girl…

 

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Peace in Silence

The Skissley Diaries; Peace in Silence
Overview: Most of Skissley’s younger life was blissfully idyllic for her. But now that she is becoming older and more aware, she is struggling to cope with the unfairness and unpredictability of life. For even though Skissley lives far from the beaten path and is herself not worldly, the world has nevertheless found her. At least many of the world’s ills have found her. And they have mercilessly insinuated themselves into her life as well as her sensibilities, springing surprise after surprise on the gentle girl. Many of these surprises are not only serious in nature, they are downright grievous! And worse, Skissley can see no rhyme or reason to them at all, leaving her confused and distraught. Yet she tries very earnestly to make sense of things, and she does so the only way she knows how—through meditation and prayer. Even still, the effects of such worldly woes as adultery, divorce, drunkenness, war, and all manner of death, to name a few, have already touched her young life. Fortunately for Skissley, there are also certain treasured mainstays in her life that she relies on, especially in times of distress, because they are like a soothing balm to her afflicted spirit. These mainstays, which she falls back on time and time again, are her communion with God, her affinity with Nature, and her great love and appreciation for her ability to find peace in silence…

 

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God is Along

The Skissley Diaries; God is Along
 
Overview: “Things happen,” Skissley’s mother told her once, “people change, feelings change.” But Skissley had not fully comprehended. Until now, that is, because now she is undergoing a crash course in “change,” much of it bewildering and unpleasant. About the only thing that Skissley understands is that her carefree childhood days—when life was blissfully simple and uncomplicated—are gone forever. Already her relationship with her parents has become ambivalent, her feelings towards her father strained almost to the breaking point. And she is growing increasingly alarmed over the mysterious—often violent— dissension that has developed between her parents and that threatens to tear the once harmonious family apart. Then, too, there is the inexplicable betrayal of her by the parish priest and his continued antagonism towards her. Compounding her misery even further, Skissley has her own secret matters of the heart as well as the soul to grapple with. Yet because of her philosophic belief that everything good and bad happens for a reason, she copes. She copes because she believes that God has a plan for each of us as we journey through life. She copes because she believes that he never abandons us. She copes because she knows that always, always, God is along…

 

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Growing a Soul

The Skissley Diaries; Growing a Soul
​Overview: If Skissley thought she had come up against difficult times before in her life, nothing could have prepared her for what 1962 had in store. Indeed, with its relentless barrage of trial and heartbreak, this particular year would prove to be the major turning point in Skissley’s young life. “I’ll never forget 1962, Diary—not that I want to remember it—it’s just impossible to forget because so many terrible things happened. And what would I have done without you? How would I have survived the worst year of my life when no one else was there for me; I would have been a goner for sure. But you were there that horrible day that Mama went away. And you were still there later on, when Dad went away, too, and we kids were left all by ourselves, a houseful of orphans! And nobody cared…or at least not one person ever acted like they did! You know, Diary, it all reminds me of when I was little and my legs would hurt so terribly that I would cry. Mama said I was having “growing pains,” and she would wrap warm towels around my legs. I loved the way those warm towels made my legs feel so good that I’d go to sleep. Now, I’ve learned that not only our bodies grow, but our soul grows, too, when we experience life’s trials and tribulations. That has to mean that our soul is having “growing pains,” too! How could it not? Oh, dear Diary, you do see the irony in this, don’t you? My poor heart has been broken over and over so my soul could grow. Growing a soul hurts so much worse than my legs growing ever did. But the thing is, you can’t wrap a warm towel around your soul…
 

​Only Small Things
 
The Skissley Diaries; Only Small Things

 

Overview: Skissley is now going on eighteen, but instead of garnering her more freedom and independence as she had anticipated; her impending adulthood has propelled her mother to react in the opposite manner, reining her in even tighter. Skissley decries feeling trapped and isolated on the farm and that she must resort to small things to fill her long, lonely days. During the summer of ’63, one such thing is tweezing worms out of ghastly sores in the flesh of barn kittens! Skissley absolutely abhors worms, yet she voluntarily assumes this, the first of many such disgusting, stomach-churning tasks. But beyond Skissley’s sheltered existence on the farm, exists a big world with infinitely bigger events, like the assassinations of Medgar Evers and President John F. Kennedy. Skissley mournfully records these tragedies in her diary, noting that even though faraway, they have caused her tremendous pain, while the small things at home have buoyed her and given her a sense of purpose. She recognizes the irony in all this, and decides that although God made both the big and the small for a purpose, maybe her small life filled with only small things is actually the greatest blessing of all…

 

The Skissley Diaries; Two Roads

 

The Skissley Diaries; Doing Right

 

The Skissley Diaries; Before I Sleep

 

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2013 by Bonnie Bachman