by Terri Giuliano Long
Publication Date: April 2011
In Leah’s Wake was written as a story about a family dealing with the repercussions of the actions of 16-year-old Leah Tyler. However, what really unfolds is a story of the strength and fragility of family. Leah excels in every aspect of her life, especially soccer, for which she is the top pick for college recruitment. From the outside she seems to have it made: great grades, great future, great family. We quickly see that, like most families, there are scratches beneath the perfect surface.
When Leah starts seeing an older ‘bad-boy’, things quickly decline for the Tyler family. She begins to feel the pressure pushed upon her to always be the best, and gives in to the temptation of doing something she knows is wrong. Time after time, Leah puts herself in dangerous positions to gain the approval of her boyfriend and his circle. Her family tries everything they know to make her see how dangerous the guy is for her, and try to convince her not to throw her life away. Soon, she stops playing soccer, quits school, and runs away to try to prove that nothing will keep them apart.
While all this is going on, her family is left to deal with the pieces. The secrets between her parents, Zoe and Will, begin to resurface, as new secrets are formed. Her younger sister, Justine, is forced to grow up too quickly to accommodate the irresponsibility of those around her, while she tries to strengthen her connection to Leah in fear of losing her. Others become irrevocably connected to the Tylers in the wake of it all.
While In Leah’s Wake is intended to be focused on how Leah’s actions affected her family, I found it to be more of a story about how her family’s actions affected her. We may never know the catalyst that sparked Leah’s intense rebellion, but it was obviously brewing beneath the surface. It seems like an easy out for her parents to blame her for everything that happens within the family. Perhaps sharing the responsibility of the stress on the entire family would have been a better approach.
In Leah’s Wake is a great story, written in a way that makes it surprising that this is a debut novel. There are parts of Leah that nearly every woman can identify with when thinking of their teenage selves. While at times the circumstances became a bit extreme, it is a relatable story for anyone who was, or is dealing with, a rebellious teenager. It gives the reader the bigger picture of all the factors that may be leading to such behavior, while asking for compassion from every perspective. This is a story about the pressures we unknowingly put on our family when we don’t know how to deal with it ourselves.
For more about Terri Giuliano Long, visit her website.
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This book can be purchased at Amazon, as well as your local independent bookseller.