Sunday, December 02, 2007

FIRST Post: The Minor Protection Act

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour!
(Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we
will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

The Minor Protection

Musterion (December 1, 2005)


Jodi Cowles
caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first
international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30
countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night
train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in
South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid
bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter
eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th
birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about
publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


If the politically correct set was searching for a
poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn
Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate
speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested
once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed
him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven
years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her
career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to
pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if
it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a
few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling
bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new
curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program
of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide
rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country,
applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this
groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district
authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30
minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag
about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told
her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there
was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla
calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and
teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter,
Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she
had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest,
courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive
and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a
pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered
high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother.
Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old
senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw
the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart
"sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to
have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the
east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any
loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow
to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a
first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so
strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents
unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another
dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction.
Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours
either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had
enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for
teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming
around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace.
They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning
they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka
laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered
around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They
dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all.
What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick
had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible
verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God.
Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her
relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was
she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents
have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to
the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way
to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the
end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and
hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students
from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A
year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In
the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by
litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

1 comment:

M. C. Pearson said...

Thanks for posting!