Tragedy can strike without notice. It’s in the news every day. Bad things happen to good people—men, women, and children, and that bothers me.
My young adult novel, Surviving Haley, is about Lauren Werthman, a teen who used to like soccer, who used to play an instrument and have a best friend. But now she turns to food for comfort and doesn’t do much of anything. Why? A tragedy. She makes a mistake, one that results in her little sister Haley’s death. Lauren can’t forgive herself, because if she’d been paying attention, Haley might still be alive.
The book isn’t about the accident, though. It’s about Lauren’s battle to fight her way back to a normal life. After the accident, the family moves to a new state. Lauren gains weight. She hides mini-candy bars in her school bag. At home, she keeps a stash in an old flocked bunny bank where her mother won’t find it, because Mom monitors everything Lauren eats. Food is the only thing that lifts her mood, but the good feeling is short-lived. She eats way too much in a short period of time and afterwards, she’s disgusted with herself and even more depressed.
There are lots of novels about Anorexia and Bulimia, but there’s another disorder known as B.E.D., or Binge Eating Disorder. Overeating is normal from time to time. But Lauren’s eating becomes out of control—she can’t stop even when she’s full.
Suffering causes people to question their faith or even doubt the existence of God. Guilt invades every aspect of Lauren’s life. The first day at her new school, she meets a guy who’s wearing a shirt with a religious logo, and her initial reaction is anger: If there’s a God, why didn’t He save her sister?
Who’s this book for? Readers who want to root for a character trying to change, who believe everyone deserves a second chance. Can Lauren ever be happy again? Could you?