Set in the dusty desert town of Cedarville, North California, beauty queen, Jody Angel Taylor believes her life is all mapped out: glamorous, clever and popular, and due to marry her handsome boyfriend, she has it all. Until one night she has a devastating car crash, ending up paralyzed – and her perfect world collapses. Committing media suicide and publicly blamed for her own accident, everything around her falls apart. She becomes a lonely recluse, feeling she’s lost everything including her legs – her boyfriend to her best friend, her father to an affair, her mother to depression – but above all she fears losing her mind. What she doesn’t know is that someone across the globe is about to throw her a lifeline. Can she find the courage to take it? Determined to love again and clear her name, she embarks on a new adventure that will transform her life beyond all expectations.
Targeted Age Group:: 14 plus
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was inspired by a girl I interviewed for a magazine nine years ago who went for a drink with a friend and crashed her car when she drove home. She ended up paralyzed from the neck down and is destined to spend her life in a wheelchair, but despite what happened to her she went online and found love with a guy overseas. It was this unusual love story despite her challenges that led me to write the novel.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main protagonist is Jody Angel Taylor who is a seventeen-year-old pageant queen. She is very vain and quite unlikable initially until she transforms gradually after her accident. I wanted her to be the typical spoilt only child of adoring parents who feeds of her twitter and Facebook followers thinking she is hugely popular. I pictured her as a beautiful Californian blond – the archetype image. Having a teenager daughter myself it wasn’t hard to get inside her head. Although my daughters no vain but still obsessed with online followers. I wanted to show how this vain girl could be broken down and then rebuilt. The rest of the characters just evolved as I wrote the book. Her neurotic mother and self indulgent father who goes from an eating addiction to womanizing. Her superficial boyfriend and her lovely new Danish man who is what Jody desribes as retro in that he’s a bit of a hippy. I based him on several ex boyfriends.
Hello. My name is Jody Angel Taylor. I am eighteen-years-old and my life is over! Yes, I’m still breathing, but that’s about it. I’m a vegetating, festering lump of nothing. How are you?
That’s what I’d really love to say, if anyone even bothered to ask. Not that they did anymore. Every detail about that night – Saturday, September 25, 2010 – had been plastered all over the papers, forensically analyzed, and debated extensively on every US talk show. What else was there to know?
So here I am lying on my bed as usual, and staring at my legs, all milk white and scrawny, under the pink cotton shirt I’d wear for sleep – reminding me of lumps of raw clay that haven’t yet been moulded into anything worthwhile. I could stare at those legs for hours, examining the wasted muscles on my thighs and calves, the blotchy sores that randomly appeared, and every vein bulging through my crepey transparent skin, desperately willing them to power up and work.
It was gross the way they’d degenerated; rapidly decaying before my eyes, as if someone else had stolen mine and left me with these crummy, pathetic hand-me-downs. But I never gave up, despite the doctor’s dead-end prognosis. Every day, I’d clench my fists and with every ounce of strength try again to move them, just slightly, even a big toe … but nothing. It was as impossible as lifting thick iron poles.
I leant back against my pillows and let out a long sigh, feeling an overwhelming sense of misery that rose like a thick mist from the depths of my soul, when you know you’re one of the living dead. Why had this happened to me? Was I really that bad? I asked myself those questions all the time. I didn’t want to believe that this was some random accident for no reason. Who wants to believe that? It means everything that happens to you is pure chance, a chaotic mess. No, I preferred to believe I’d been punished; karmic sins for a past lifetime, maybe two-thousand-years ago as some evil queen, or for just having it too good this time round. There must be some kind of cosmic order to the madness of life, balancing out the good and the fucked up.
I pushed back a straggly lock of hair from my face. I feel disgusting. My hair is stuck to my scalp with grease, and my skin coated with an oily stickiness. I lean over and sniff an armpit. Boy do I stink; old stench where I hadn’t bathed for days. I didn’t wash much you see. What was the point? Just to lie here in my cell with the flowery wallpaper, unable to move.
It was rare if anyone visited, so no one cared what I looked like … except Mom. It was the same most days and the routine would go something like this: she’d knock loudly. “You decent?” she’d shout and then without waiting for me to reply, she’d open the door carrying in a tray of my favorite sushi, or mackerel salad with a glass of homemade lemonade, making a face at the stale air as she walked in. She’d put down the tray on the pine side table next to me, along with some glossy fashion magazines, and then silently open a window.
“That’s better, a fresh breeze,” she’d say with a smile. She’d turn on the computer, click on iTunes, and tried to be hip, playing Rihanna or Pharrell Williams to perk me up, and then cheerily nag, “shall I fill up the tub?”
“No!” was always my first answer.
“I can put nice smellies in it. Make it all frothy.”
“Jody, please. You’ll feel better if you freshen up.”
I’d look away. I wasn’t being a brat, honest. I just didn’t want a huge drama with her wheeling me down the corridor in my chair and then trying to lever me awkwardly into the bath. It was humiliating. I’d rather stink.
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