Hailey Trosclair, sixteen and innocent, tells her story of leaving the baby-innocent life stage behind as she approaches a time when even murder sounds like a good idea. Her father who used to bring home good pay checks got laid off and now thinks he’s too good for a Walmart job. He uses his time to play pool and visit other women, one in particular. Hailey’s mother wastes her time laying around in her bed under the heavy cloud of depression brought on by a miscarriage that resulted in change for them all, including Hailey’s older brother Cyrus.
Through Cyrus, Hailey experiences many things the least of which is visiting the hangout of an ex-con who lives by the rule, “You have to suffer before you can get salvation.” The worse of these is murder done in the name of saving the family. She has many thoughts about God, but eventually settled on the attitude that when the preacher prayed asking God for help, the help never came. Whereas, when Moses was faced with a problem he didn’t pray, he solved it himself. No one told Hailey this could lead to problems.
While all her social activities are happening, Hailey watches the chasm between her parents grow and decides it is because of her father’s conquest of ‘the other woman’, so she visits the other woman’s husband who is dying of cancer. She plans on telling the man about his wife and her father, but her heart goes out to Mr. Guidry as he lies in his hospital bed accepting the verdict of the doctor, “You’re dying and we can do nothing.”
Sex is always a temptation to all kids who reach the golden teenage years and Hailey is no exception. There are a couple of explicit sex scenes, so this book is not a good choice for teenagers and because of the violence described in some of the scenes, not recommended for young adults. However, adults can learn much from reading this story. Parents with teenagers will know a little more of the problems their children face during this time in their lives and will perhaps be a little better at reading the signs than Lena and Jules Trosclair were. Mr. Tusa’s story is interesting and thought-provoking. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning what’s out there to entice our children away from family and good moral teachings.
Chris Tusa was born and raised in New Orleans. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, The New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Passages North, Spoon River, New York Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Tar River, StorySouth, and others. He has studied under a number of notable writers, including Tim Gautreaux, Sidney Wade, and Debora Gregor. With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first chapbook of poetry, Inventing an End. His debut collection of poems, Haunted Bones, was published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2006. His debut novel, Dirty Little Angels, will be released by The University of West Alabama this April. He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. Aside from teaching in the English Department at LSU, he also acts as Managing Editor for Poetry Southeast.