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In my fourth novel, I went out on a limb, creating a character engulfed in the tyranny of child abuse – an entangling web that informs her life for decades.
We first meet Margaret Elaine Graham – later called Meg – at the age of ten, as she struggles to make sense of the dynamics of her controlling family life. Despite the constraints that often overwhelm her, she finds escape – with her school studies, in her books, and even in some of her friendships – despite the restrictions that often interfere with her goals. For example, she has to hide books under her mattress, because her tyrannical father’s fundamentalist beliefs do not allow for most of her book choices.
Throughout her childhood experiences and the abuse, some of which she will not remember for many years, Meg keeps her eye on the prize – freedom and an escape to a different kind of life.
Unfortunately, some of her choices along the way thwart her goals, including her marriage to Bob Williams – a professional businessman she meets while in college. He is not who he appears to be, and stifled by the control freak that outwardly seemed nothing like her father, Meg hangs in there until after she achieves her college degree. By then, she has a young child, but taking a leap of faith, Meg reinvents herself – as Lainey Graham – and carves out a life that includes friends, involvement in the radical causes of the day, and a career that will hold meaning for her. Most of all, her choices must provide the freedom from all tyranny.
Meg/Lainey greets her quest with trepidation at times, and along the way, she battles alcohol addiction. Therapy sessions provide some of the answers she seeks and opens a door onto the secret betrayals of early childhood.