Blog Post- Beth Fehlbaum, author of The Patience Trilogy (Courage, Hope, & Truth), and Big Fat Disaster
What would you do if you were taken from the only home you’ve ever known and dropped into a tiny rural town with a parent who you’ve never known?
How about if you were suddenly homeless because of something your dad did?
Ever been going through something really rough, but when you tried to talk to your parents, they wouldn’t listen?
As an author, I’m interested in exploring how brave teens react when their backs are against the wall, and they have only themselves to depend on—at least at first.
I didn’t have to look too hard to find inspiration for the books I write. I didn’t have anyone listening when I reached out for help when bad stuff was happening to me, like it did to Ashley Asher in The Patience Trilogy. When I was in high school, I felt extremely out of place and awkward. Although my family looked just fine from the outside, those of us who had the inside scoop were struggling to survive.
That’s how it is for Ashley Asher, a teen girl who tells her mom what her stepdad has been doing to her since she was 9, but her mom does not act on Ashley’s outcry. Ashley’s best friend forces her to tell their teacher, and Ashley is placed in little bitty Patience, Texas, with her father and his family. She’s learning basic “I’m new here” stuff, like which drawer her stepmom and dad keep the forks and knives in, but she’s also trying to wrap her brain around the question of WHY. For example, why doesn’t her mom care enough to do something—anything—to protect her, and WHY did her stepdad mess with her in the first place?
It’s not until she has a meltdown and her dad and stepmom figure out that Ashley needs professional help that they bring the traumatized teen to Dr. Matt, and he begins helping Ashley figure out how to move on.
I was never made homeless—unlike Colby Denton, the 15 year old girl at the heart of Big Fat Disaster—but I definitely felt really alone when I was in high school, and when people were mean to me, I had no idea how to deal with them.
Colby’s dad, a candidate for U.S. Senate running on a “Family Values” platform, steals from his campaign and cheats on Colby’s mom. Because of his criminal acts, the family is made homeless.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Colby is “the fat girl” in a family that looks “perfect” from the outside: her dad was a college football star; her mom is a former beauty queen, and Colby is “sandwiched” between her older sister, Rachel, who is a carbon copy of their mom, and her younger sister, Drew, who is not only too cute for words, but she even reminds Colby of the Weight Watchers Points for every food (thanks to their mom), AND she has a habit of asking Colby stuff like, “Where do you think that ice cream will look best on you?”
Here’s the thing: I went through the same experiences that Ashley did, except that I didn’t speak up, and I did not get help until I was an adult. And, like Colby Denton, I have Binge Eating Disorder, and I know what it’s like to eat my feelings.
See the book trailer for Big Fat Disaster, here!
Even though I write about hard stuff—and characters dealing with shame of one kind or another—I believe it’s hard stuff that NEEDS to be talked about, because the only way to begin to shed the cloak of shame is to drag it out of the shadows, into the sunshine, where truth thrives in the light of day.
Check out The Patience Trilogy (Courage, Hope, & Truth), and Big Fat Disaster, and come see me at YA Fest PA! Chapter previews of all my books are available on my website: http://bethfehlbaumbooks.info