Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: L. Werner Marketing
Date of Publication: 6/30/19
Cover Artist: Vladimir Serov, Design – Teaberry Creative
Tagline: Stay Vigilant, Act
Normal and Be Ready to Run.
Perception is king, especially in
a small Ohio town. Jessie Taylor seems like a normal 15-year-old girl, but
she’s an illusion of what people expect her to be: a good girl, a smart girl,
and most importantly, a girl from a respectable family.
Her family may appear ordinary,
even wholesome, but behind closed doors it’s an alcohol-soaked nightmare
without reprieve. Jessie and her brother Brian, struggle bravely together as
they fight to survive their violent father. Even the excitement of falling in
love for the first time can’t seal the foundational cracks in her psyche.
As her home life worsens, Jessie
mentally begins to bend and then break. No one foresees the girl Jessie
becomes, the dark abilities she possesses or the vengeance she’ll take. Based
on a true story, the author grew up with an abusive alcoholic father and lived
to share the tale. She hopes her story inspires others to move beyond their
dysfunctional families and stop the cycle of abuse.
A few hours
later, Mom’s hand on my shoulder and her soft voice woke me. “Will you go to
the store with me? I would love some company.”
“What time is
it?” I asked.
“I guess,” I
grumbled. I moved Baby over and wearily got up from the floor. A quick glance
at Brian confirmed he was still asleep. I cov¬ered Baby back up and headed to
Standing in the
shower for a few minutes, I allowed the spray of water to soak my head and wake
me up. I ran the soapy washcloth over my body, shampooed and conditioned my
hair and got out.
evaporated from the mirror, a girl with dark hair and a pained expression
stared back at me. I didn’t recognize myself. My thoughts didn’t seem like they
belonged to the girl in the mirror. Fear settled in my stomach like a large,
cold stone. I knew it was me, but it didn’t feel like it. My thoughts existed
outside of my physical body. With a trembling hand, I slowly dragged my fingers
downward to blur the image. My scalp prickled as I backed away from the mirror
and slid down the bathroom wall, still wrapped in my towel.
wanted this out-of-body feeling to go away. With my fingers pressed to my
temples, I shivered and whispered, “3130 Brookhaven Drive. I live at 3130
Brookhaven Drive. My name is Jessie. I am Jessie.” I prayed repeating my name
and address would put my brain back where it belonged.
make this feeling go away. Please God, make this feeling go away.” I wondered
if this was what it felt like to lose your mind. My sanity would be the toll
for the constant uncertainty and fear in my home.
much longer ‘til you’re ready?” Mom asked outside the bathroom door.
Her voice broke
me out of my panicked trance.
“Not long,” I
answered. Slowly, I rose from the pink carpeted floor and got dressed. I pulled
my still-wet hair into a ponytail. I kept my eyes glued to the floor. I was
afraid my reflection in the mirror would kick off the disconnected feeling
I settled myself
into the front seat of the car and buckled up. Mom glanced over at me.
“No. Are you?” I
glared back at her. Did she seriously think I would be okay? Frowning, I folded
my arms across my stomach. Mom just sighed. She didn’t try to talk again. She
knew I would quickly shut down her weak attempts.
As we drove to
the store, I stared out the window at the passing scenery: our neighborhood
with large maple trees, soft rolling hills, ranch-style homes and kids’ toys in
almost every yard. The landscape shifted to flat land and brown corn fields
once we drove a few miles out of our subdivision. In the summer, the fields
were lush with tall, dark green corn stalks and moist earth, but now, in the
fall, only dried, cut-down stalks remained. I rolled down the window and let
the breeze soothe my brain.
stores appeared as we entered Stanton’s downtown. We arrived at the grocery
store and quickly went through each aisle picking up our usual grocery items. I
ambled through the aisles, not saying much, and mulled over the events of the
In the cereal
aisle, we ran into lavender-haired Mabel, one of the older ladies from church.
I guessed she was in her early eighties. In fact, all the ladies near Mabel’s
age had lavender hair. And why did they jingle with every step? Once you got
old, were you assigned a bell to clip on your clothes and lavender hair dye?
“Hi Jan, Jessie,
how are you?” Mabel greeted both of us.
I wanted to say,
Hi Mabel, Dad punched Brian this morning and due to our constant abuse, I’m
losing my mind. How about you?
Mom said. “How are you?”
prevented mine, which was probably a good thing.
pretend everything is fine. They continued to chit-chat while I sauntered away
under the pretense of cereal selection. To avoid any additional conversation, I
stared intently at the various brands of Raisin Bran until Mom and Mabel
shopping and headed to the parking lot. It was a windy fall day and my long
ponytail whipped at my face as I loaded the grocer¬ies into the trunk. The warm
wind washed over my skin like a caress. I loved the fall weather. It wasn’t too
hot or too cold, but perfectly dry and sunny. As I loaded the last of the
groceries into the trunk, the image of Brian’s face from this morning flashed
in my head. It was the look of despair in his eyes. More than anything, I hated
Dad for hurting Brian. I didn’t like it when Dad hurt Mom either, but it pissed
me off that she kept him around when she could have sent him packing.
silent ride back home, I glared out the window and noticed nothing. All the
while, my anger built. I hated Dad more for hitting Brian then me. I hated him
for hitting me too, but it hurt me more if he hit Brian. As Mom slowly pulled
into the garage, I couldn’t hold back any longer.
LeeAnn Werner is a marketing
consultant, blogger and author. Her book, The Illusion of a Girl, a young adult
thriller, is based on her own childhood where she struggled to survive her
violent alcoholic father. She hopes her story inspires others to move beyond
their dysfunctional families and stop the cycle of abuse. LeeAnn holds a
bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Journalism. She lives
in Illinois with her wonderful husband, three beautiful children and one super
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