Say, can my teenage daughter read your book?

My novel has officially been released for a week now, and one of the most fascinating and enjoyable parts is hearing all the different reactions to the story. Aspects of the story emerge which I’d never considered while writing it, such as quotes and character quirks and even whole themes. One of those I’m most thrilled about has been arriving in my inbox as a question:

“Is this something my teenage daughter could read?”

After all, two of the main characters are teens: Anniston is 13, quirky and precocious, though somewhat of a loner because of the lies and turmoil brewing in her family. Her best friend, Jed, is a teenage boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but with a heart of gold.

While I defer to the parents to ultimately make that decision, my personal answer is unequivocally

YES.

A small part of me might have been hesitant about this, initially. After all, the book, set in 1980, is a modern-day allegory of the rape and subsequent murders which occurred between King David’s children, in II Samuel 13. Though not graphically or gratuitously depicted in any way within my novel, it is obvious that these things do occur within the story.

However, 

…consider that Scholastic targets 11-13 year olds for the Hunger Games series.

…consider the frightening statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice about the horrors teens are experiencing in their daily lives.

…consider even more statistics, of which teens are largely impacted, from RAINN, one of the most highly respected organizations focusing on the prevention of seal assault and abuse.

…consider the number of teens in our schools and churches you probably already know who are dealing with things like cutting, domestic violence, sexual abuse.

Now, think about where these teens can find hope.

How Sweet the Sound is a novel written to give readers hope.

Hope that God is in the midst of pain.

Hope that the wounded can recover.

Hope that someone will believe in us when we can’t believe in ourselves.

Hope that beauty comes from within, no matter how scarred and ruined we may feel.

And hope that love wins.

So yeah, I’d say your teenage daughter can read this book.

I dare say, considering all the other forms of media vying for her attention, that she should.

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“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” I Timothy 4:12

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“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” I Timothy 4:12

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seasons. a poem.

the weathered monument to youth
crouched motionless in the untrodden, heat-scorched grass
still, i was reluctant to part with the lumbering giant
it’s not that days past are worthy of more celebration than the present
no, i weep often as i embrace the young men clutching book bags and electronics and peanut butter sandwiches they ask me to make
even this morning
it’s just that seasons press down on a mamas heart
autumn is not so much a leaf dancing along the fence rows
but a hunkering down
a waiting
for the bent tree who knows she must release
her leaves
to the wind

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1

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dedicated to my adorable nephews, my brother, and my sister-in-law … my cup overflows knowing the memories you’ll make!

September days, pudgy with love.

Bronzed with tart cinnamon and burnt orange mums, September warms my heart like no other time of the year.

Much of this stems from seemingly month-long celebrations commemorating the birth anniversaries of my Dad and myself with cake and laughter and joy.

These celebrations intensified when my first child entered the world. Another September birthday. Two days before mine, actually, which meant I brought him home on my birthday.

A feeling resembling fear–but more likely the shudder accompanying the complete surrender of my heart–near shook the delivery room as the doctor placed my first-born son on my swollen, exhausted belly. His eyes, wide open inky pools of wonder, sought. Implored. Awakened. Virgin-esque to the harsh, dry air of the world, infant eyes looked deep into mine.

And the world

stopped

as the two of us

gazed,

soul-to-soul,

incredulous.

Smitten.

Grateful. 

Last week, as my husband and I roamed dimly lit sidewalks of a local art fair, we ducked into a newly opened consignment store, and I spied (and yes, for $5, brought home) this:

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Just a piece of junk to some.

“Probably the cut-out cover of someone’s uncherished, long-forgotten baby book,” the cashier laughed.

And I nearly wept.

To me, the piece framed an era of my life, pudgy with rolls of utter infatuation, when the diaper-clad boy of my dreams curled up on his haunches, roly-poly-bug-like at nap time; baby lips shaped like perfect rose buds, drooling gently onto hand-sewed blankies; and me, hovering over the spun-post rails of his crib . . .

. . . praying . . .

. . . beseeching . . .

. . . imploring the Lord of all creation to make me worthy of such a child . . . of such an endeavor as raising up a child to know and believe in Him . . . of sending hosts of angels to guard him as he breathes and grows and becomes.

And so, September is a month I adore. Full of the wonder of the births of three generations: my Dad, my son, and mine.

Three generations.

Three sojourners, gray, mid-life, and new, who love Jesus.

Three who implore and beseech and pray.

From light-soaked mornings awakening us, to star-canopied nights lullaby-ing us each into sleep.

Newborn to newborn.

Dust to dust.

Each of us framed not only by a calendar month, but also by the hand of our Father, as He holds us and pray makes our paths straight.

Even as we question.

Even as we do not understand.

Even as we acknowledge

Him.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)