I've already had a few people email me or post in reviews that they were a little disturbed by a topic that gets brought up in the newest Cassandra Jones book. Since it's not a central part of the plot, there's nothing in the blurb or description to warn people, so it's natural that some people will react in surprise or alarm.
So I'm going to warn you.
Junior high marks the beginning of what will become a four-year battle with an eating disorder for Cassie. It starts slowly. It springs on her in the most normal way, with just wanting to be pretty and thin and popular like all the other girls.
It creeps into her life until it's got its grip on her and she has to fight hard to shake it.
This trial in her life is never going to be the main plot, but it will be a part of her story for the next few years. And there's a reason for it. If you've read any of my books, you know I don't shy away from hard topics. I never start out to write a book with the intention that it's going to teach or be a moral lesson; I don't look for polemic topics. But these things are so very real and normal that almost everything I write about, I have intimate experience with. Not saying all of these events have happened to me, but many of them have, and those that didn't happened to close friends of mine.
Eating disorders are very real, and they are so prevalent in a young teen's life that probably half of them battle that mindset before most conquer it. A few, like Cassie, succumb.
If that makes you want to avoid the next few years of her life, I won't be offended. You can pick the series back up at Springdale Bulldogs Year 3, after she's put those demons to rest. :)
I'm not one of those authors who writes beautiful poetic feel-good books. I hope you feel all the ranges of emotions when you read my books: sadness, despair, heartbreak, joy, love, laughter, peace.
You may have seen me mention on my Facebook page the death of an old friend.
Not old as in age, but old as in, we became friends in high school.
This person was my friend Joey. If you've read Priceless, you kind of already know him. While the real Joey liked music more than football, his sense of humor, his friendliness, his dark hair and lanky body were all very much the same.
Though high school was a long time ago, Joey and I stayed friends. Three days before his death, we were texting about the publication process. I'm kind of shocked. I can't believe he's really gone. It just doesn't seem real to me that someone can be there one day and gone the next.
But he is gone, and it makes me more anxious than ever to finish up the Perilous series with the final book, the one with the big reveal that should shock all my readers and add the final sense of closure for Joey, both fictional and in real life.
And though Joey and I talked a lot, I don't know that I ever told him how he touched my life. How years later I could still remember our chats and late-night philosophical discussions. I don't think he knew how much he mattered to people. I don't think any of us do.
There are people around you who will never tell you when your words change their lives or your actions touch their hearts. There are people who you think don't even know your name, but they would mourn your loss. You might think that kid you were friends with twenty years ago doesn't care anymore because you haven't talked in two decades, but they still carry that torch of friendship. Two decades or two days, it really doesn't matter. The love and friendships we feel and create might get filed and put away, but they're not deleted. I frequently go through the list of friends I've known over the years with fondness and affection, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
The following is a conversation between Jaci and Joey, taken from Priceless. This book and the one after it will always be in memory of him.
“I think,” Jaci said softly, “that you and I have created an amazing friendship. And it would break my heart if I lost that.”
A small smile pushed at Joey's lips, and she recognized the disappointment and acceptance in his eyes. “I would hate to lose your friendship also.”
“You are so much better than you give yourself credit for, Joey.”
He looked down and shook his head at the table. “Your first impression of me was probably the most accurate.”
She laughed at that. Her first impression was so far removed from the person she’d discovered Joey to be. “I hope you can forgive me.” She reached over and squeezed his hand.
“I can.” He squeezed back. “I care about you. That won’t ever change.”
“I feel the same way,” she said.
I know I am not the only one to deal with the sudden death of a friend or loved one. The loss of life is such a tragedy; my heart goes out to all those who have to keep going in the face of such pain.
Thank you for listening and allowing me to mourn in my way. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat.