Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?

Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.

"I've seen the road to hell, my friends, and it is lined with yellow buses. I don’t say this lightly. For many kids, school is exactly that: Pure hell. I say this with the full authority of someone who knows what she’s talking about because I was bullied. At times, without mercy.

I was born with cataracts and am legally blind without correction so for most of my childhood I had to wear extremely thick glasses. These weren't your garden-variety, run-of-the-mill thick glasses. No, no, these glasses were bona fide facial apparatus. They had bifocals and looked like two snow-globes sitting on my face.  I was tormented because of it. Not teased…tormented.

So, it’s no surprise to learn that I hated school. I hated elementary school, middle school, and high school. I didn't want to be there because I was being bullied every day, singled-out by several classmates, sometimes a whole group of them, for systematic abuse that went on for years. Every day, up through about ninth grade when I got contact lenses, I lived in fear. And the teachers didn't seem to care. There was no anti-bullying movement in the 80’s. Not in my town, anyway. I just got chewed up and tossed aside for being a poor student. How can a child learn if she is afraid all day long? And it was not just verbal abuse; it was very physical at times. I look at pictures of myself as a child and wonder how it was possible that someone could get a thrill out of bullying a person so physically defenseless. I was by far the smallest girl in the class. Teeny, tiny small. Knock-her-over-with-a-feather-small. This must have made the notion of bullying me all the more attractive because at least once a week I was pushed, shoved, tripped, scratched, spit on, and sometimes just outright punched in the face or stomach. For the record, a well-centered punch in the stomach is something you never forget. Your lungs basically collapse in on themselves until you see stars and in the minute or so that it takes to recover, you wonder if you might ever draw breath again. You think to yourself: Am I dying? Am I going to die, right now?

Another time I was shoved so hard that I went sliding headlong across the icy blacktop and my glasses flew off and snapped in half. I was too ashamed to tell the teacher what had happened and she didn’t care enough to pursue the issue so it was easier for her to just yell at me for being clumsy. She taped my glasses back together but because the lenses were so heavy, the tape kept giving way. I had to sit at my desk holding my two snow-globe lenses together for the rest of the afternoon.
It was humiliating. It hurt. Not just physically but emotionally. At night, I would lie in bed counting the hours until morning. I would pray for some kind of cosmic event, a tornado, an earthquake, anything that would stop The Coming of The Bus. I would lie dreading that twenty minute ride to school when I would have to suffer that particular boy who, as an adult, would go on to hurt a woman very badly and serve hard time in prison.

Sometimes, especially in the younger days, I would lie in bed and pray for a miraculous healing, for God to heal my eyes overnight so I wouldn't have to wear my glasses anymore. I would actually picture myself leaping out of bed at sunrise and shouting across the house: I can see, Mom! Praise God, I can see!
So, so desperately I was hurting inside. And you know what? It always hurts to some degree. Those scars never fully heal. I’m 43 years old, a published author, and I teach at a university. I have a wonderful husband of twenty years and two smart, beautiful kids. Still, sometimes when I think of my childhood, especially when I read or write or watch movies about bullying, I feel twelve-years-old again and I wonder in amazement: How did I get through those years? The only answer that I have come up with is that I never gave up hope. Somehow I always believed that a brighter day was coming for me, and when it arrived, I wanted to be around to enjoy it. 

So for any bullied kid out there who might be reading this post, I want you to know that I understand your pain. But, most importantly, I want you to seek help. Tell an adult what is happening to you, a parent, an aunt, a teacher, a cop, anyone who will listen. If that person doesn't help you, then tell someone else until someone does help you. Call a hotline, visit anti-bullying websites, and know your rights. Don’t suffer in silence like I did. You have a right to be helped. You have a right to be unafraid. You have a right to protect your body. If none of this works, if you've done these things and you are still being bullied, stay strong. What you are going through won’t last forever. Eventually, this period of your life will be over and the pain that you are carrying will shrink to just a tiny, wistful ache in the corner of your heart. The rest of your heart, the overwhelming majority of your heart, will be open for better business.  Someday soon, if you are kind and treat others with respect, you will find love, happiness, acceptance, and friendship. And that’s a lot to look forward to.

Your brighter day is coming, my precious friend. Please don’t ever give up."

or call
BRAVE # 212-709-3222

All of these contacts are anonymous and strictly confidential.


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beneaththecover said...

True Love and other disasters

Tanja said...

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Vivien said...

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Theresa Nowaczyk said...

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarrey

Maegan Morin said...

I dont have a favorite Contemporary book right now! This book looks really great though :D

Marmaladelibby (aka Ange) said...

I don't read contemporary very often honestly...probably any of Laurie Halse Anderson's

Isa said...

My favourite contemporary books are The Sky is Everywhere and The Fault in Our Stars. Thank you. :)

Diana said...

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, thank you for the giveaway!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

I really enjoyed Wife 22 by Melanie Gordon. Even if you don't use Facebook all the time, you can get a lot of laughs out of this book.

Marla W. said...

One of my favorite Contemporary Novels is The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Excellent book!

Christina K. said...

Speechless by Hannah Harrington:)

Thank you:)

Natasha said...

The Fault In Our Stars is my favorite! Thanks for the chance to win!

Andrea @The Bookish Babes said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

My newest favorite contemporary is Something Like Normal.

Lilian S said...

Practice make perfect-Julie James
Thank for the giveaway

Kristia said...

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally.
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Donna Smith said...

Wow, your story brought tears to my eyes. As a mother of an 11 year old who has had to go through his share of teasing in school, my heart just went out to that little girl. It's wonderful how you've used all of that as a way to reach out to other kids in similar situations.

My favorite contemporary book this year so far has been The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Thanks for sharing your story and for the giveaway!

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It was very emotional to read, I couldn't imagine how it would have felt to have to experience that.
My favorite contemporary book this year is probably Pushing the Limits, I also really loved Keep Holding On.

Patrice said...

lola and the boy next door.

Ileana A. said...

Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips!
Thanks you for the giveaway! :D

Anubha said...

i don't have any favourite... :)

Destiny said...

Very touching story, great post!!

makix3 said...

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma!!
Thank you for the giveaway! :)
Marijana Sitar

SacredmOOn said...

I don't have a favorite. I really don't read that much contemporary.
It's always so hard to read stories like this. I just don't understand how peeps can be so cruel to peeps and animals.
Thank you for the chance to win!
DeAnna Schultz

Angela said...

Pushing the Limits or Such a Rush :) Thanks!!!

I Talk books! said...

Easy by Tammara Webber. I love that book.

Alba said...

I'm stunned speechless. This post has taken my breath away.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love love this post, to the point of pain. I have tears in my eyes, sitting at my desk at work... Wondering and thinking... You Colleen Clayton are a hero to be looked up to.
I'll save this post to show every other single person I know that has been, still is, or god please no, will be bullied.

I was bullied for quite some time in middle and high school... Then some in college and now from time to time inside my family.
It hurts, it never goes away from your mind. BUT. It passes.

I have too many contemporary fave novels.
But Dark Song by Gail Giles
Easy by Tammara Webber
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Forbidden by Tabitha S. and sooo many more!!!

Abby Flores said...

The Summer I turned pretty>>:D

Heather C. (The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl) said...

Sovereign Hope by Frankie Rose is my favourite contemporary read =)


Dani Marie said...

Right now I love Beautiful Disaster.

Mia Castile said...

The Unbecoming of Mara Dryer

Froze8 said...

I Hunt Killers .... does that sound creepy?


Natasha Areena said...

My Favorite is Catching Jordan :)


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