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A Garden On Top Of The World by Virginia Aronson | Virtual Blog Tour | @pumpupyourbook Presents #YA #Ecofiction

A GARDEN ON TOP OF THE WORLD Veronica Aronson * YA Ecofiction * Title: A Garden on Top of the World Author: Vi...

Veronica Aronson
* YA Ecofiction *

Title: A Garden on Top of the World
Author: Virginia Aronson
Publisher: Dixi Books
Pages: 112
Genre: YA Ecofiction

The year is 2066 and life in Greenland is much warmer and more crowded, and lacking in fresh food. Sixteen-year-old Jonnie lives in the Relocation city of Shamed, where hundred-story high rises house extended families from American coastal cities relocated after the Sixth Sea Rise. Work and school are conducted from overcrowded apartments, while the homeless camp out on the streets below. Jonnie is intersex and identifies as she, although her family pressures her to identify as he.
Jonnie’s parents run a high-tech call center out of their apartment. Her older siblings work there, and Jonnie must share a bedroom with two much older nieces. For quiet and privacy, Jonnie often retreats to the empty rooftop.

Red is a homeless man who takes up temporary residence in a pigeon coop on the roof. After Red talks about the seeds in the birds’ droppings, Jonnie gets interested in heirloom seeds. Jonnie knows little about how food grows because meals come in packages ordered online and delivered by drone. Armed with a new understanding of old-fashioned garden-grown food, Jonnie is determined to create her own garden on the roof of her high rise. Along the way, she meets a former cryosphere scientist, a botanist with an urban indoor garden, and twins her own age, one of whom is intersex.

A GARDEN ON TOP OF THE WORLD is environmental fiction for ages 12 and up. Jonnie’s search for who she is and what she might be able to offer the world is one that will resonate with readers of all ages. The information she learns about healthy food, sustainable agriculture, and urban gardens may inspire readers to start their own gardens.





"This is the way the world is fed."
Just think about how our world might change in the near future. With the increase in global temperatures, polar ice caps will have experienced significant melting, causing significant rises in sea levels. Coastal cities will be threatened and, unless adequate precautions have been taken, vulnerable areas of the world may have to be evacuated. Food and land will become more scarce, feeding the world much more difficult.
Right now less than a hundred thousand people live in Greenland because most of the country is snow and ice, permafrost. But if our earth grows much warmer, less hospitable areas of the world like Greenland could become more populated as cities facing massive water intrusion relocate residents.
How many people might be homeless if the global situation becomes dire? How many will be unemployed? With advancements in automation, how many will be unable to find work?
In the coming decades, what will the world look like? Where will we live? What will we eat? Will people be different than they are today?
Medical experts have cited an increase in births of intersex babies. Human sexuality is changing, becoming more fluid and less defined. In the future, as the global population advances to 10 billion, such developments could be seen as adaptation, a desirable evolutionary change.
What about sexual (and racial and ethnic) equality? What about pollution? What kind of technological changes will there be in 30, 40, 50 years?
Now imagine that you are a young person living in the year 2066.
And now, meet Jonnie.

Chapter One
Once I finish my schoolwork, I have nothing to do until dinner. Everyone else at my house is working. When I remove my headgear, I can hear them. Talking, talking, talking. The sound is a deep, bone-rattling drone, interrupted by occasional bursts of laughter or yelling.
So annoying.
My family is in the call center business. This means they don't do anything; instead, they talk for a living. Talk, talk, talk. And the work is international. This means they talk all day long and right through the night. You would think they would want some peace and quiet when they're not working, but this is not the case. Even off-duty, my family is always talking. Always gossiping and laughing, shouting and arguing, blathering on and on.
I'm the youngest and there are a lot of them and only one of me, so I rarely get to speak. Not that I want to yack all the time. I prefer quiet. A serene, calm, peaceful quiet. So I've had to adapt. Most of the time I tune them out.
But sometimes I can't block out the noise. That's when I sneak out. I wish I could do something, like hit the streets and explore, but this is not allowed. They think I'm still too young to be out alone where there's poverty and crime. So instead, I go up to the roof. It's not much and there's nothing to do, but it is quiet up there.
I'm going to head up there right now.
First I put on my niece Kamara's soft blubber boots and my dad's dog-fur coat. I slide thick white Dura-Soy socks onto my hands to keep them warm. Nobody at my house owns gloves. My mother says there's no need to go outside in the bad weather. We have everything we need right here, in our home.
I'm not so sure this is true for me. Being stuck inside, studying and hanging out all day, is so boring. Only when I'm reading or researching or doing interesting schoolwork am I content. When my mind is engaged, it goes elsewhere. Zoom! But escape is only temporarily. I always come back here, to a crowded apartment in a crowded building in a crowded city.
I want to go new places. I want to do amazing things.
Right now, however, I have to complete high school. I'm a year ahead, a junior at sixteen. I like being challenged, but digiworld education is pretty easy. However, I love environmental history class and nature science. I love looking at how the world around us used to be, the early people and their simple lives, the wild animals and their natural homes. Everything was so different back then. Nothing looks like it did in back in 2000, 2025, even as recently as 2050. There's been so much rapid environmental change and so many social adjustments, it's a whole new world.
I glide through the living room without disturbing anyone. They rarely notice me anyway, tucked in their tiny cubicles, encapsulated in their surround-sound head screens. I don't walk past my parents, though. Those two have eyes in the back of their heads and they could snatch me by the hoodie and hold me here. Maybe even assign some useless chores. Or, even worse, try to make me do some call work.
No thanks.
But I'm invisible, so out the door I slip and up the stairwell I go. Up, up, up, jogging two stairs at a time, eventually slowing to a brisk step-up walk. My breath comes out in frosty spurts. The stairway is cement and holds the winter chill.
It's a good run up the stairs to the top, so I use it as exercise. I want to be fit and strong so I can go on adventures. Explore other parts of Greenland, then explore the rest of the world. But I'm sort of huffing as I power up the flights. Sitting inside all day is not good training.
At the ninety-ninth floor, I stop for a moment to admire my lucky talisman. An abandoned spider web, which has been here as long as I've been coming up from the second floor. Dusty and wispy, it hangs in the corner off the rough gray wall. The web is perfect, an incredible design still intact. I wish a spider lived in it. I would love to see a real live insect, observe one in its natural habitat.
I remove the sock from my hand and reach up, gently feeling the soft silk. Impressive how a female spider can create such gossamer material inside her own body. I'm not sure what I will create inside mine because I am intersex. That means I am part male and part female. I may have eggs, I may not. Whatever is in store for me, I will never be able to weave beautiful webs, that is certain.
I drag myself up the final flight and lean against the door to the roof. The heavy steel is especially difficult to push open today, which indicates it's extra windy outside. I shove the door with all my strength and, with an aggressive grunt, manage to open it wide enough that I can slide through. I'm small and thin, making it easy for me to fit into some of the places I wish to go. Only I want to go everywhere. Travel the world. Visit the moon. Take up residence at one of the space hotels, and jump on the shuttle to Mars.
Yet here I am, stuck in the sad city of Shamed with my loud telemarketing family.
The wind is biting, it chews at my face and neck. I pull up my hood, feeling sorry I didn't borrow my niece Kamara's seal headdress. That kooky thing makes me look like I have a pile of blubber on my head, but it keeps my ears warm.
I hurry across the vast expanse of the empty roof to my spot. A small bench sits between the solar heating units. The afternoon sun is still bright and, tucked here out of the wind, I am soon warm and cozy.
I drop the hood and turn my face to the sun. Winter all over the globe is mild and brief these days, but here in Greenland it used to be brutal. Back then, nobody could sit outside in March, their face to the winter sun.
Warmed enough now, I pull out my dad's World War Three binoculars and stare at the activity on the streets below. Most working people are inside, at home, probably on their headgear. Those hanging around outside are homeless. Too many Shamed residents are unemployed, and lots of families lose their apartments and end up on the streets. My family is lucky to be employed.
Two raggedy men sit side by side on the icy sidewalk, waiting for donations. I watch an elderly man stop to give them something, but I can't tell what it is. It's flat, kind of square, so it looks like an old book. But books are exceedingly rare, so I doubt anyone here would donate one. After the guy shuffles off, the two beggars argue over the donation. I watch them fighting over their prize until I'm bored.
The streets are harsh today. Gusts of cold wind rip off seal hats and shake solar lamp posts. Kids dressed in layers of oversized clothing huddle in doorways. I feel sorry for them. If you have no place to live and no screens, you have nothing to do. You can't even go to school.
I check the sky, looking for birds. But I don't see any. Usually I don't. There are so few trees in the city that birds are as rare as books.
As I scan the neighboring buildings, I peek in the uncurtained windows. I'm imagining what the residents' lives are like in the apartments that surround ours. Sometimes I can see people moving around their rooms, and I create stories about them in my mind. The women care for others like my mother does. The men have interesting work that keeps them from being bored with the limits of city life.
Two kids who look around my age live in the building just south of ours. A girl and a boy, I think. It's hard to tell because so many kids are intersex. They might be twins, they sure look a lot alike except one has like an afro and the other has long straighter hair. They study and eat together, often huddling to talk. They nudge each other, make funny faces, laugh. Watching them makes me feel both happy and sad. I wish I had someone like that in my life. My siblings are much older than I am. Even my two nieces are in their twenties. My mother told me my birth was a bit of a surprise. Had to be, she was over eighty when I was born. My parents have great-grandkids who are around my age. So my grandnieces and grandnephews are teenagers too.
Confusing, right?
There's no sign of the twins today, and nothing much to see in the other windows. The frosty wind whistles in the distance as I look across a seemingly endless vista of rooftops. Rooftop after rooftop, stark gray and lifeless. No people, no furnishings, no swimming pools or pretty tile patios like in the historic photos of old city buildings in places like New York and Miami, Paris and Shanghai. Here in Shamed, the city skyline looks like an empty parking lot, just gravel and asphalt that stretches as far as you can see. In the early part of the millennium, lots of cities had restaurants and observation decks on building rooftops. How cosmic that must have been! Dining close to the stars! Looking out at the brilliant blue sky, the green vista below with flowering trees and pretty parks. Birds flying by, settling in the treetops. And singing!
When my parents were kids, they lived in an alive world. Such a different world than mine. I feel ripped off. Still staring though my spy glasses, I sigh heavily.
"Feeling grumpy, are we?"
I jump off the bench, my binoculars bouncing against my chest, then whacking my chin. I can feel my heart racing faster than it did when I jogged up the stairs. I've never seen anyone out here on the roof. Nobody comes up here but me.
An old man with reddish gray hair stands a few feet away, his arms outstretched. A smirk escapes from beneath his bushy beard. After a few seconds of us just staring at one another, a large blue-gray pigeon suddenly appears and lands on his right hand.
I startle and step back, but he grins. "Wait. There's more," he says.
Another pigeon, a pudgy brown one this time, lands on his left shoulder. He rolls his eyes and that makes me laugh. I can't help it, he looks crazy!
"There," he says, his grin widening when a white dove plops down on the crown of his head. "That's better."


Virginia Aronson, RD, MS, is the author of more than forty books. She is the Director of Food and Nutrition Resources Foundation, a non-profit corporation that supports individuals, organizations, and communities actively seeking to improve access to healthy food, nutrition education, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and a socially just food system. She is the author of two books of ecofiction: A Garden on Top of the World (Dixi Books, 2019) and Mottainai: A Journey in Search of the Zero Waste Life.

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1 comment

  1. Best of luck with the book and book tour! I included the tour in the Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2019 edition of The BookTube Your Shelf Daily Reader:


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