I’m crawling out on a limb and hanging on for dear life as I reveal a little-known fact to all of the wonderful readers who visit Famous Five Plus. First, the facts that are very much known: I’ve written two novels, Leave of Absence and My Life in a Nutshell. Both are adult contemporary fiction, and both set out to humanize mental illness.
The little-known fact is that I wrote a novel long before these two. It’s entitled Losing Elizabeth. The gist of it is this:
When the school year begins, Elizabeth Carter’s life is fantastic, and she is a happy, confident, well-adjusted teenager. She and her best friend Meg are not only on the school tennis team but are even candidates for the varsity level. Elizabeth is in advanced classes and already planning for a bright future. She is ecstatic when greatly-admired Brad Evans asks her out. Slowly and insidiously, though, Brad takes over her life. Readers will find themselves on a tumultuous journey filled with both joy and pain that ultimately is a search for love, friendship, and identity.
Losing Elizabeth addresses the very core of teen life experience, which is learning to engage in meaningful relationships at the same time as an independent sense of self is developing. The novel reaches the young adult reader deep inside her heart and soul and speaks not only to what she likes but to whom she is and what she is becoming.
To my very pleasant surprise, I learned this week that Losing Elizabeth has been nominated for Storytellers Campfire’s prestigious Voyager Marble Award. I am deeply grateful that this literary organization has recognized Losing Elizabeth for its contribution to society.
According to their news release, “Storytellers Campfire is presenting Marble Awards to those who have dedicated themselves in their work beyond expectation and have shared their passion and commitment with the world. Many of the Nominees have exhibited a sincere desire to help others through their work and have been a source of inspiration to others.”
The reason I am surprised about this is the same reason I tend to be a bit hushed about the book: I always have anxiety about what I write, and I worry that Losing Elizabeth is too simple. I worry that it’s not in my genre – how can I promote both adult and YA/middle grade books? And really, I’m not a YA author. There are so many elements in Losing Elizabeth that I know I could have done better. Really, though as humans, don’t we all strive constantly for improvement?
I suppose I really shouldn’t remain so hushed about this novel, for I really do believe in its message. In fact, I’m proud of it. When I was a high school teacher, I had so many students, both male and female, become trapped in toxic, unhealthy, or even abusive relationships. I wanted to write a simple little story to illustrate to illustrated the dangers of such relationships. So I wrote Losing Elizabeth.
I want middle and high-schoolers to read it. Many do, for it’s in some school libraries, and I receive positive feedback. Among reader comments are ones like these:
“This is a cautionary tale teenage girls (and boys) should read. The very realistic picture drawn of an abusive, controlling relationship is something an unfortunately good number of young people will recognize only too well…. [T]he story is compelling and should be enough to keep the pages turning.” — The Sacramento Book Review & The San Francisco Book Review
“…[T]his young adult novel quite simply grabbed me. Losing Elizabeth is a good book. But more than that, it’s an important book, especially for teenagers who are just getting into romantic relationships. Author, Tanya Peterson, handles the subject with expertise and sensitivity.” – Sue Bronson, Colonygram, the official newsletter of The Oregon Writers Colony
“The staff at Storytellers Campfire highly recommends this book for parents and young teens and young adults. This is a strong story and a necessary one.” —Storytellers Campfire, “Where Literary Art Comes To Life”
“Losing Elizabeth by Tanya J. Peterson…is a young adult book I definitely want to share with my daughters….Never before have I read a book with an exclusive focus on this subject…With sensitivity and grace, the author of Losing Elizabeth paints a realistic and troubling scenario for readers….This short but harrowing story will stay with me for a long time.” —Susan Ortlieb, Lost in Fiction’s Lost in Young Adult event
This book by Tanya J. Peterson should be read by every teenage girl. It will show them the darker side of some guys that they may not see or choose not to see. “Losing Elizabeth” will open everyone’s eyes to the rough subject of abuse. I would give this book ten stars if I could. Not only is it a great story, it is well-written and fast paced. I couldn’t put it down! I look forward to reading more books by this author.” —Hailey17, amazon.com
“Yes, the story is solid and well told, with all the subtleties of teenage attraction and naivete as they approach their first relationship with the opposite sex. [B]ut the important aspect of this novel is in its providing a story to which young adults can relate that warns about abusive relationships….And for that reason, Tanya J. Peterson has performed a social duty in addition to writing a fine little book.” —Grady Harp, amazon.com
“Losing Elizabeth is a powerful read that needs to be in every high school. Tanya J. Peterson did an excellent job and the characters were very realistic. This book made me very angry to think how often this story happens.” —Brianne Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Losing Elizabeth is a book every young woman and her parents should read, it gives insight into how easily our young people can be swayed. Tanya Peterson is a gifted author who expresses exactly what goes on in our schools today. Social Pressures are enormous to handle at this age. Great job, great book.” —Deb Roseth, amazon.com
As a writer, I think I’ll constantly criticize my work and strive to improve. That, I hope, will make me a better writer each time I craft a novel. For now, I am going to continue to feel so deeply honored that Storytellers Campfire chose to nominate Losing Elizabeth for one of their prestigious Marble Awards.
Tanya J Peterson http://www.tanyajpeterson.com