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Sweet Tea
by Wendy Lynn Decker
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<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">GENRE</b>: Coming of
Age/Christian fiction</div>

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BLURB:
The
fourth anniversary of Olivia’s daddy and John Lennon’s death is approaching.
Like the shot heard ’round the world, TV and radio stations keep the frenzy
alive and recognize Lennon’s life, while Olivia’s mama remembers Daddy’s death.
Instead of healing, Mama’s strange behavior keeps getting worse.
After
viewing an afternoon talk show, Olivia discovers her mother might have more
than a case of eccentricity – she may be mentally ill. When those fears are
confirmed, Olivia is faced with more decisions than any sixteen-year-old should
have to make. With no adult family members to turn to, she is forced to trust
the only people who’ve offered help: one strange man and a friend her mother
makes at the mental institution.
Facing the
intricacies of her mother’s illness one minute and the decision to have sex
with her new boyfriend the next, Olivia finds that through faith and
determination, she can conquer it all in this poignant story of love,
intuition, compassion, and hope.
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<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Excerpt </b></div>

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Jonzie got up off the bench. She
paced the ground with her head down. I thought she was about to give me another
lecture, like the skiing one.</div>

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“When Michael died, my mama went to
Central State, too. I didn’t tell anyone. My daddy brought her there. She
wouldn’t talk, cook, clean, or do anything. She just lay around like she was
dead but still breathing. I didn’t even care ’cause I felt the same way.” She
stopped pacing and took a deep breath. “But . . . instead, I hurt myself on the
outside so the inside wouldn’t feel so bad.”</div>

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Jonzie pushed up the right leg of
her jeans and exposed the rest of her calf. Scars like ladder rungs ran from
the top of the flame on her tattoo to just above her knee. I’d never noticed
them before, probably because I was always gaping at her tattoo, thinking about
getting one myself, or maybe because Jonzie never exposed her legs completely.
She wore straight legs all the time and cuffed the bottoms so you could only
see her tattoo. In gym, she wore knee socks.</div>

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“Michael and I always talked about our
plans. You know, we were gonna rent a camper and drive across the country after
we finished high school and go to San Francisco. First, we were gonna go to
Alabama, then Mississippi, then stop in Arkansas and visit some friends and
family. We were gonna go to Colorado and try snow skiing, then Vegas and pull
the one arm bandits, and finally, San Francisco and ride the cable cars. And
for our ultimate goal, we planned to roller skate down Lombard Street.”</div>

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Each time Jonzie mentioned one of
these places, she pointed at another deep-lined scar. When she finished, she
let go of her pant leg, and it slid back down to her ankle.</div>

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“Whenever I felt bad, I’d think
about each place that Michael and I were planning to go, and I’d slash the side
of my leg like I was crossing the date off a calendar. Sometimes I still do. I
just ran out of states.”</div>

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