Karen and Richard Carpenter visit the Nixon White House.
Karen and Richard Carpenter visit the Nixon White House.

The Late Karen Carpenter Stars in a New Love Story

National Lampoon years popularized the slogan, "That's not funny, that's sick." Surely, the folks there would therefore see the humor in a novel that centers on a love story with the late Karen Carpenter.

Many readers will have to ask their parents who Carpenter is, but the quick answer is she was the singer and drummer with the hugely popular mild '70s pop duo The Carpenters, which was rounded out by her pianist brother Richard Carpenter. They are the namesake of the Richard and Karen Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Cal State Long Beach.

Two of their biggest songs were "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun." I don't know if those are the still the names of the apartment complexes on both sides of Fifth Street near Lakewood Avenue in Downey, but those were the names on the signs in front of them years after the Carpenters sold them. Karen attended Downey High School, and their parents' home was still there when the duo hit it big.

Karen died at the age of 32 in 1983 from heart failure, later attributed to complications related to anorexia nervosa, which was then a little known disease. In fact, she unwittingly became the poster child for the disease.

So now Leo Mark Bonaventura has penned Leave Yesterday Behind, which involves a Leon Adam Alba III dreaming nightly about "a breathtakingly beautiful dark-haired woman who is asking God for help with her demons." After countless hours trying to figure out who she is, Leon discovers it's none other than Karen Carpenter, and he must delve back in time to get to know the new love of his life.

And you thought "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" were sappy. If this sounds like your idea of a fine summer read, go to Xlibris.com, which has Leave Yesterday Behind listed at $15.99 for trade paperback, $29.99 for hard bound.


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