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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“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.