WINNER Global eBook Awards, Popular Fiction, 2012
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites - First Place, 12/11
Book Bundlz 2011 Book Club Pick
CTRR Reviewer Recommend Award, 2011
WINNER Global eBook Awards, Popular Fiction, 2012
IN LEAH'S WAKE: Winner of the CTRR, Reviewer Recommend Award
BOOK BUNDLZ 2011 BOOK PICK
BOOK BUNDLZ 2011 BOOK CLUB FAVORITES, FIRST PLACE
"Terri Giuliano Long writes about the complexities of marriage and parenting . . . pulled me right along, as I continued to make comparisons to my own life."
--Jennifer Donovan, Managing Editor 5 Minutes For Books
In Leah's Wake is beautifully written, haunting, fascinating, and a book that has a lot to say, a lot to teach you, without getting preachy.
--Haley Stokes, Triumphal Writing
Recipient of the Coffee Time Reviewers Recommend (CTRR) Award. This award, selected by reviewers, recognizes outstanding writing styles in all book types and genres. --Coffee Time Romance
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Recipient of CTRR, Reviewer's Recommend Award
2011 Book Club Book Pick - 2011 FAVORITES, FIRST PLACE
From the Author
In Leah's Wake tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a high school soccer star, has led a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs--all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, afraid they're losing their daughter, pull the reins tighter.
Unfortunately, her parents get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon there's no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine, caught between the parents she loves and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together.
Leah is a strong young woman, beautiful, smart, a superstar in the community. As long as she lives up to their expectations, she's accepted, even celebrated. As soon as she tries to take control of her life, question the rules, spread her wings, she meets resistance. When she chooses a troublemaker boyfriend over a promising college soccer career, and heads down a path of drugs and self-destruction, she rips her once happy family apart.
Justine is twelve, in that awkward stage, not really a child and not quite a teen. Justine is intelligent, faithful, and kind, and she sees the best in people, sometimes to her own detriment. Deeply religious, she sees God as Father and protector - a belief that will be challenged by her family's turmoil. Her best friend is Dog, the family's aging pet Labrador. Although only twelve, Justine is left to be the rock as the rest of her family plunges into depression.
ZOE AND WILL TYLER
Zoe and Will are hardworking parents who love and want the best for their children. Ambitious and tough, Will is willing do whatever it takes to help his children reach their full potential, even if it means alienating them in the process. He can't sit back, watching his teenage daughter destroy her promising future. Zoe, a child therapist and motivational speaker, is a peacemaker who avoids confrontation, and thus easily falls into depression. Their divided approach to Leah's rebellion drives a wedge into their marriage.
Rather than listen to their daughter, accept that she's growing up, that her choices may differ from theirs, and guide her down the path that's right for her, Zoe and Will try to take control. This is a classic problem between parents and teens. The minute we put our foot down, say no, you can't do this or that, they tend to focus all their energy in that direction. Zoe and Will's escalating attempts to control their daughter only push her away. This is a difficult cycle to break.
Jerry Johnson, the police officer, is the only non-family member with a voice in the novel. Jerry's work as a police officer brings him into frequent contact with the dissolving Tyler family. Though flawed like all the characters, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. He's the connecting force in this novel.
Leah's boyfriend, Todd, a former roadie in a rock band, is a modern day James Dean, a rebel without a cause. He's been arrested for dealing drugs, so it's easy to blame him for leading her astray; really, he's a conduit. He makes her feel comfortable and safe and encourages her blossoming independence.
By the time Leah realizes that he wants to control her, too - albeit in a different way - it's too late. If only she'd realized how deeply her family loves her, she might have avoided the dire consequences she suffers. That's the central irony in the book - perhaps the irony in many relationships between parents and teens.
I love that you set this story in the environment of a successful, stable family to show that all kids, teens especially, are vulnerable to bad influences, even those from "good' families. What made you decide on this approach?
We tend to believe that only bad kids from dysfunctional families get in trouble, and that's simply not true. This attitude allows us to distance ourselves - this could never happen to us - and to cast judgment on families with problems. This judgment and ostracism, as often occurs as problems escalate, only adds to the difficulties this family is already facing. Rather than cast families out of the community, we ought to support and encourage them.
Your book is the story of a contemporary American family caught in the throes of adolescent rebellion. Do you feel that they represent the typical American family of today? If so, how so?
In the sense that the Tylers want what's best for their children, yes, I think they do represent most families. Will and Zoe are invested in providing for and doing well by their children, which means they work harder than perhaps they should. Work takes them away from their children; one day, they wake up and realize that, while they were working, pushing themselves to get ahead and succeed, their eldest child has gone off in a dangerous new direction.
As a culture, we put tremendous pressure on children to succeed, but we define success very narrowly, in terms of money and achievement. Leah recognizes the hypocrisy in the rat race. She's lived her own version in soccer. She's pushed herself hard; by most measures, she's succeeded. Yet success does not make her happy - any more than achievements at work make Zoe or Will happy. Leah sees this and wants to simplify her life. That's a positive impulse; unfortunately, partly because it's nonconforming, it takes her in a negative direction.
I think these questions and impulses arise in many children. The more creative and independent their nature, the more likely they seem to be to push boundaries. Happily they don't all follow down the dangerous path Leah chooses.
This novel is largely about community. Can you explain?
Community plays an important role in setting expectations and shaping and maintaining connections. The expectations, the constant demand to perform, can be overwhelming. In small towns, everyone knows everyone else, by sight if not by name. You can't hide. If you or a family member is in trouble, everyone knows it. That claustrophobia and the constant feeling of condemnation, being watched, inform the inner lives of these characters and influence their behavior.
As a mother of four this book must have been a little scary to write. Did imagining what is an extreme case of teenagers acting out make you want to hold more tightly to your own children?
When my children were teens, I worried constantly. Like Zoe, I used to think, if only I knew everything would turn out well. Of course we can't see into the future, so I was always on edge. As parents, we want to hold our children tightly, protect them - every minute of every day. At the same time, if we want our children to grow up to be independent adults, we have to let go. Defining that line, figuring out when to hold on, how tightly, and when to open your arms and set them free is, to my mind, among the most difficult challenges parents face.