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-Photo by Hans Madsen

Cindy Haines, of Phoenix, left, shares a laugh with Author Lisa Avelleyra, of Iowa City Saturday afternoon during a signing for her book “Get Me To The Abbey” at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center. Haines is Avellayra’s sister and she flew in just for the signing.

The book signing for Iowa City author Lisa Avelleyra’s book “Get Me To The Abbey” Saturday afternoon at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center quickly became much more of a reunion than a book signing.

She knew just about everyone who attended, and they knew and remembered her.

She is, after all, a proud Fort Dodge native.

“My last time back here was for my class reunion, it was years ago, I was in the Class of ’80,” Avelleyra said.

Among those in the audience were friends, family, a teacher or two, and a surprise — Cindy Haines, of Phoenix.

-Photo by Hans Madsen

Author Lisa Avelleyra, of Iowa City, shares a laugh with the audience Saturday afternoon during a signing for her book “Get Me To The Abbey” at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center.

“I came in last night,” Haines said. “Drove up this morning.”

Avelleyra broke into a big smile when she saw her. Haines is her sister.

“I had no idea she was coming,” Avelleyra said.

Haines was ready with a joke.

“I had to come all this way to get my book signed,” she said.

-Photo by Hans Madsen

Author Lisa Avelleyra, of Iowa City, at left, looks over a cardinal gifted to her by Joan Meyer, of Fort Dodge Saturday afternoon during a signing for her book “Get Me To The Abbey” at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center. The bird plays a role in a significant passage from the book. It was made by Dan Ewing, of Fort Dodge.

Avelleyra’s book, a memoir about her time in treatment center for alcoholism, focuses on the stories, situations and the colorful people she was with during her time there.

One of the chapters talks about cardinals.

“On my second day there is a female cardinal landed by my window,” she said. “I instantly thought to my mom. A second male cardinal landed as well. Naturally I thought ‘there’s my dad too, they found me, they know where I am. The cardinal was a thread through the whole thing.”

Part of her motivation for writing the book was to share the colorful personalities she met.

“As I wrote, it turned into a labor of love and I wanted people to get to know these people as I knew them,” she said. “They were instrumental to me being five and a half years sober.”

-Photo by Hans Madsen

Author Lisa Avelleyra, of Iowa City, at left, signs a copy of her book for Melanie Vogt, of Fort Dodge during a Saturday afternoon signing for her book “Get Me To The Abbey” at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center.

Joan Meyer, of Fort Dodge, already had a copy that she brought to the signing. She also gifted Avelleyra with a cardinal statue made by Dan Ewing, of Fort Dodge.

“I met Lisa in 1985,” Mayer said. “I’ve known her 37 years.”

She’d already read the book.

“It’s dog eared but I’m getting this one signed,” she said. “I should be making my family buy copies.”

Melanie Vogt, of Fort Dodge, picked up her copy at the signing.

-Photo by Hans Madsen

Author Lisa Avelleyra, of Iowa City drew a crowd Saturday afternoon for a book signing of her work “Get Me To The Abbey” at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Center. Avelleyra is a Fort Dodge native.

“I haven’t seen Lisa in 40 years,” she said. “I’m proud of her.”

Her review of Avelleyra’s book?

“The book is amazing, the book was moving. I hurt, I laughed,” Vogt said.

That brought a smile to Avelleyra’s face.

“That’s the best thing I can hear,” she said.


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