by Debra Coleman Jeter
GENRE: YA Suspense
She hoped winning the lottery would solve her problems.
Her problems have just begun….
It is 1975, an ordinary year for an ordinary Southern family. TRAY DUNAWAY, like thousands of other teenagers around the country, longs to be part of the popular set at school. Tray’s mother, EVELYN, lies in bed most days with a headache, and her bipolar tendency toward extreme highs or desperate lows veers more and more often toward depression. Tray’s grandmother GINNY, who lives with the family, still grieves the loss of her husband, Brook. She believes it’s time for her to move out, if she could afford to, and find a place of her own, maybe even a new romance. This doesn’t look likely, given the state of the family’s finances.
Then something extraordinary happens. A down-and-out friend of the family, PEE WEE JOHNSON, buys an extra lottery ticket. He gives it to Tray’s dad as a thank-you for driving Pee Wee to Hazard, Illinois, where he purchased the tickets. And what do you know?
When Johnson demands his cut, Tray’s dad refuses. As Evelyn’s illness spirals toward madness, Johnson turns threatening, and Tray makes some poor decisions, what initially seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly triggers a disturbing chain of events.
I am content, curled on the sofa with the afternoon light streaming in through the picture windows, warming me as I allow myself to be carried away to Egypt. There, I am a beautiful, dark-skinned, blue-eyed spy deeply in love with a dashing adventurer. But even more, I am deeply committed to my cause, and uncertain on which side of the political fracas my love’s true allegiance lies. I must not—I cannot—be swept totally by the passion that threatens to consume my soul …
And so when my father bursts through the door, reeking of stale coffee and frustration, I momentarily forget who or where I am. I am taken by surprise at his entrance.
I look up and our eyes meet. He sighs and turns away without a word. Then, abruptly, he whirls back to face me. He strides to my side, jerks the book from my hands, throws it on the floor so that I cry out.
“Why aren’t you outside playing like any normal kid? What’s the matter with you?”
Before I can think of a reply—I am still in transit being jerked from the beauty and passion of the Nile spy to the awkwardness of my own fourteen-year-old body—he is gone, leaving me bookless and defenseless. In that instant, the real Tray is back: pale skin marred by an annoying scattering of acne spots; frizzy dark hair; long, narrow face; thin legs and arms.
I blink back tears and bend to retrieve the discarded book, smooth out the new crease in its spine. I fling it back to the floor.
“Gram,” I moan. My long legs assume a life of their own, carrying me to the refuge of my grandmother’s room where I flop onto Gram’s cot with a heavy sigh.
“What’s wrong?” Gram quickly hides her snuff brush and can, but not before I catch a glimpse and a whiff of tangy, gooey tobacco juice.
“Nothing.” I rise up on my elbows to look at her. She’s responsible for a lot of my features. The same long, narrow face, lined now with years of hard work and worry; the same thin legs and arms, beginning to sag the way mine probably will some day; the same dark hair, still thick but threaded with silver.
Silence. Gram sews a while. Her fingers whip the needle in and out, in and out, of the tiny garment she is stitching. Gram’s sewing is not the greatest. She sews some of my school clothes. The other kids can tell they’re homemade and they make fun of me. I hate those kids for the way they make me feel. And, even more, for the way I make Gram feel when I spew, “I don’t want your old tacky clothes anymore.”
I love it, though, when Gram makes doll clothes because, with a little imagination, they are spectacular. The dolls provide a perfect working model for my plan to be a fashion designer someday. I’ll design glorious ball gowns, like in a fairytale, and wedding dresses, and exotic dance costumes …
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
The Ticket is Debra Coleman Jeter’s first novel. It was a finalist for a Selah Award in two categories: Young Adult Fiction and First Novel. A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.
Website and Blog: http://www.debracolemanjeter.com
The Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103863/
The trailer: https://vimeo.com/50187275
Here’s a link to the trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FYTKJdd7Gqw
Debra will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour