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The Illusion of a Girl
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: L. Werner Marketing
Date of Publication: 6/30/19
Number of pages: 258
Word Count: 61,000
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 the bathroom.
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.
As steam 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.
I desperately 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.
“God, please 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.
“Jessie, how 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 again.
I settled myself into the front seat of the car and buckled up. Mom glanced over at me.
“You okay?” she asked.
“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.
Finally, retail 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 morning.
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?
“We’re good,” Mom said. “How are you?”
Her response prevented mine, which was probably a good thing.
Let’s all 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 stopped talking.
We finished 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.
During our 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.About the Author:
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 hyper dog.
You can check out her webpage and blog at www.illusionofagirl.com
Twitter – @LWerner27
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/illusionofagirl