Title: Home From Within
Author: Lisa Maggiore
Publisher: Vagabond Publishing
Genre: Women’s Fiction
It’s the fall of ’82, and Jessica Turner has finally been set free, entering a public high school after being homeschooled. But her mother wears a frown and her father wears his Colt .45s, with a warning: no dating allowed. Seeking warmth, Jessica finds herself in a secret relationship with bad boy Paul Peterson. When the relationship–and Jessica’s pregnancy–are discovered, Paul will be dead by nightfall.
Seventeen years later Jessica and her daughter live a quiet life with horse farmer, Matt Johnson. Marriage is on the table but Jessica’s remorseful heart will not comply. When an unexpected death brings Jessica back home, she uncovers her father’s secrets and discovers that her true path in life, and love, are just a choice away.
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I have secrets that need to be forgiven, Jessica thought, staring into the darkness of her bedroom. She sat with her knees tucked under her chin, tented in bedding that was slowly letting out the warmth. The yellow glow from her bedside clock read 3:06 a.m. Jessica glanced at Matt and noticed that he never flinched when her alarm went off. They had been sharing the same bed for many years, but sometimes she hardly knew he was there.
Wrapping her arms around herself she shuffled toward the bathroom at the end of the hall, flipping on the night-light next to the sink so she could take a hot shower in relative darkness. Cranking open a small window she drew a deep breath allowing the smell of fresh dew, hay, and pine to swirl inside her nose.
A faint light shone from the bulb above the stove as she ate oatmeal in the kitchen. Various songs from her past kept flooding into her consciousness and Jessica tried to distract herself by focusing on the mundane thoughts of the morning, but that only made the songs louder. And behind the songs were voices that did not want to stay buried under her secret armor any longer.
Jessica had been able to keep her feelings about the death of her first love, Paul, buried deep. And down deeper were the memories of her father holding those damn Colt .45s that served as judge and jury for young lovers sneaking around. Jessica believed the ache in her chest would go away with time; however, it had been seventeen years.
But last night, while channel surfing, she stumbled upon the classic eighties movie, Purple Rain, starring Prince. She could not stop herself from watching despite the movie ending at midnight. Caught in a whirlwind of euphoric recall; remembering the excitement of sneaking out with her best friend, Marilee, and going to see the movie. How the sex scene jump-started her adolescent hormones. She spent countless hours daydreaming of Paul singing, “The Beautiful Ones” to her as an ode to loving her so desperately and not wanting to lose her to another. The intensity at the end of the song made her feel alive.
The songs in the movie evoked feelings in her that were a mixed bag of good and guilt. Usually those memories were ones she could bury, not wanting love and death to overpower her again. But not this time. She allowed herself to remember some of them, resurrecting other memories she could never forget.
For me, Home From Within transformed into one of those books that had me wanting to scream both in happiness and anger, throw it across the room, and at the same time sob a bit.
Nothing about this tale turned out to be what I had come to expect. It kept me second guessing the entire time. Going in, I was introduced to the heroine-a sweet, charismatic, innocent young girl with a zest for adventure and the raw need for some semblance of a normal teenage life.
Growing in a house with two equally overprotective parents, Jessica Turner is excited about starting high school. It’s the first time in her life she’s going to be allowed to attend a public school and she sees this at the perfect opportunity to escape the oppression she has grown up surrounded by. I connected with her because she reminded me so much of my high school years and of the few things we happen to have in common.
I was drawn into Jessica’s world. Her desire to fit in while remaining true to what she feels in her heart is right. I love that she has friends she can count on and who do their best to help her every step of the way. She has an amazing support system outside of her home, which unfortunately tells the reader how much love, affection, and communication she’s missing out in the one place where she should be getting it the most.
On hindsight, her aunt Lodi is the one true family member who goes way out of her way to make sure Jessica’s parents open their minds a bit about allowing Jessica a couple of liberties girls her age should be able to enjoy.
Honestly, I wasn’t fond of Jessica’s father at all. He came across as a tyrant to me. At one point, during one particular scene, I upgraded him to a complete psychopath. I get that he was protective of his only daughter, but found his behavior excessive. For a Christian man he sure was quick to jump to conclusions during a unfortunately misunderstanding with some neighborhood kids and was appalled by the fact that he called Jessica a whore without giving her a chance to explain what was really going on.
Later on, as Jessica’s father story was told, I came to understand why the man always acted as if he was on the verge of a mental breakdown. And in a way, I felt sorry for him too. Though I was still a bit angered by how he shaped Jessica’s life and forced her to live wallowing in her sorrow for so long.
I sympathized with Jessica throughout her journey to adulthood. She didn’t feel loved or valued at all as a human being, which probably was the main reason why she sought affection elsewhere.
Perhaps Paul wasn’t an ideal role model, but he provided a sense of normalcy to Jessica’s life. He readily gave what she needed. He stuck by her at every turn. Their relationship was a means to an end. They had each other. They could escape the dysfunction in which they grew up in.
In a way, Paul was admirable for being as patient as he was. For guys, practicing patience isn’t always easy, but he treated Jessica with such kindness that he had me falling for him. Granted, had their circumstances been different, I believe perhaps Jessica wouldn’t have gone as far as she did. Maybe she felt as if she would lose him if she wasn’t as physical with her displays of affection, but I was sixteen once too so I know how conflicted the mind tends to get in matters of the heart.
Regardless of what lead them to take the next step, Paul and Jessica loved each other, and I was heartbroken when they were abruptly separated. Even more so after everything I discovered as I kept turning the pages.
The ending was as a bit of a shock for me. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the book yet, but I have never been so confused, sad, and felt as if I was robbed while finishing a story. That is, until I read Home From Within. You see, things happen that has you thinking, “Why? Why end it like this?” But I commend the author for thinking outside the box and providing an end to a wonderful tale that escaped the traditional to what one would expect to find in a love story, and reconstruct it so everyone gets their happily ever after.
I enjoyed Home from Within very much and would like to thank the author for reminding me a well written love story doesn’t always have to include a predictable ending.
Lisa Maggiore is the author of a children’s picture book, Ava the Monster Slayer: A Warrior Who Wears Glasses and a fiction short story, Pinterest Saved My Marriage. Lisa is currently working on other writing projects and practicing her storytelling skills during Live Lit performances. Lisa resides in Chicago with her husband and four children. Lisa loves to travel, watch da Bears during the NFL season and be silly with her family.
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