Spotlight: Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Publisher: Lakewater Press
Some people go to great lengths to fit in. But how far is too far?
After her parent’s divorce, sixteen-year-old Wren Newmann is forced to move from a small California town to her grandmother’s vineyard, where she’s convinced she’ll die a shriveled, wine-country virgin. Her dad’s gone AWOL, her mom’s hooking up with anything in pants, and her best friend has found the love of her life. Apart from the annoying but cute Greek farmhand Panayis, who doesn’t appear to notice her awkwardness or thunder thighs, Wren’s life has hit an all-time low.
That is until her own dating life improves unexpectedly when Jay, Wren’s long-time country crush, notices her. Yet it’s as if people don’t want her to be happy, with their warnings and advice that perhaps Jay isn’t the right guy for her. But they don’t know, and Wren’s done being Beached Whale Girl. She’s determined to become social, skinny, and sexy, because Jay wants her—every part of her.
Though her anxiety and secret purging sessions sing another warning that she finds hard to ignore. And when a series of personal tragedies strikes, Wren’s life is flipped upside down and she’s left to pick up the pieces of her broken relationships. Now, she must find the inner strength to decide if the illusion of being loved is worth sacrificing her health, and maybe even her life.
While the weekdays consist of thickening scars derived from high school wounds, weekends have become a peaceful respite from the noise of fake laughter and competing early morning parking lot music. Instead, the humming of the farm equipment accompanies the melody of the songbirds.
I click off my alarm two minutes before it’s set to ring, the light casting gray streaks on the walls and sideways shadows on the dolls lining them. I’ve never understood why the sun saves its best colors for the evening. Seems to me it’d have more energy for pretty things early on.
The house is silent—Granny’s probably already in the vineyards barking at her crew. God knows where Mom is. My stomach gurgles, and I move my tongue around my mouth and swallow as much saliva as I can generate. Familiar tension creeps through my ribs and squeezes my lungs. Sitting up, I slide my journal from under my pillow and hold it close to my chest. Its slick, cold cover pressed against me pushes away the dread. I draw in a deep breath and release it slowly, letting the air and spit be enough nutrition for now.
The aroma of bacon and griddle cakes waft through the cracks of the old house, and my stomach churns. I move around my tongue and swallow again. Tucking my legs under me, I open my journal to an empty page and record my food allotment and exercise routine. The more I write, the less I shake.
About the Author
Born and raised in a small town in Northern California, Deborah Maroulis is lucky enough to surround herself with the things and people she loves. She teaches English and mythology at her local community college, studies myth and depth psychology in her Ph.D. program, and writes contemporary Young Adult novels. She lives in a slightly bigger town than the one she grew up in with her husband, newly-adult children, and her daughter’s very spoiled, semi-retired service dog.You can find her on Twitter as @yaddathree or through her website, deborahmaroulis.com.