by Wendy Lynn Decker
GENRE: Coming of Age/Christian fiction
The fourth anniversary of Olivia’s daddy and John Lennon’s death is approaching. Like the shot heard ’round the world, TV and radio stations keep the frenzy alive and recognize Lennon’s life, while Olivia’s mama remembers Daddy’s death. Instead of healing, Mama’s strange behavior keeps getting worse.
After viewing an afternoon talk show, Olivia discovers her mother might have more than a case of eccentricity – she may be mentally ill. When those fears are confirmed, Olivia is faced with more decisions than any sixteen-year-old should have to make. With no adult family members to turn to, she is forced to trust the only people who’ve offered help: one strange man and a friend her mother makes at the mental institution.
Facing the intricacies of her mother’s illness one minute and the decision to have sex with her new boyfriend the next, Olivia finds that through faith and determination, she can conquer it all in this poignant story of love, intuition, compassion, and hope.
Jonzie got up off the bench. She paced the ground with her head down. I thought she was about to give me another lecture, like the skiing one.
“When Michael died, my mama went to Central State, too. I didn’t tell anyone. My daddy brought her there. She wouldn’t talk, cook, clean, or do anything. She just lay around like she was dead but still breathing. I didn’t even care ’cause I felt the same way.” She stopped pacing and took a deep breath. “But . . . instead, I hurt myself on the outside so the inside wouldn’t feel so bad.”
Jonzie pushed up the right leg of her jeans and exposed the rest of her calf. Scars like ladder rungs ran from the top of the flame on her tattoo to just above her knee. I’d never noticed them before, probably because I was always gaping at her tattoo, thinking about getting one myself, or maybe because Jonzie never exposed her legs completely. She wore straight legs all the time and cuffed the bottoms so you could only see her tattoo. In gym, she wore knee socks.
“Michael and I always talked about our plans. You know, we were gonna rent a camper and drive across the country after we finished high school and go to San Francisco. First, we were gonna go to Alabama, then Mississippi, then stop in Arkansas and visit some friends and family. We were gonna go to Colorado and try snow skiing, then Vegas and pull the one arm bandits, and finally, San Francisco and ride the cable cars. And for our ultimate goal, we planned to roller skate down Lombard Street.”
Each time Jonzie mentioned one of these places, she pointed at another deep-lined scar. When she finished, she let go of her pant leg, and it slid back down to her ankle.
“Whenever I felt bad, I’d think about each place that Michael and I were planning to go, and I’d slash the side of my leg like I was crossing the date off a calendar. Sometimes I still do. I just ran out of states.”
Wendy Lynn Decker has lived in thirteen different towns in the state of New Jersey. Now, she lives a bike ride away from the ocean and her favorite restaurant. She is the author of the middle-grade chapter book, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL, which is the first book intended for a series.
Find her here:
WendyDecker19 - http://www.twitter.com/wendydecker19
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