Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Just Like Elizabeth Taylor" by Lu Ann Brobst Staheli

Just Like Elizabeth Taylor
by Lu Ann Brobst Staheli

"I was named after a movie star. Elizabeth Taylor. Mom didn’t have any idea that my life - and hers - would turn out to be filled with those same unglamorous experiences her idol had faced. Life wasn’t all movie stars and parties."
Twelve-year-old Liz Taylor has known for a long time that she would escape - escape the abuse against herself - escape her mother’s boyfriend Mark. Liz just doesn’t know how or when.
Then the perfect opportunity comes - money left of the table by Mark - and Liz is on the run. But a girl her age doesn’t have many options when it comes to hideouts, making a K.O.A. Kampground and a nearby middle school her perfect choices...
Winner of the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition, Juvenile Division. Winner of the League of Utah Writer’s Juvenile Novel & Diamond Quill Award.
Note: This is a YA coming of age novel. There is some abuse before she escapes her house, but nothing graphic.

Praise for the Book
"The things I liked most about this story are the characterization and voice. There’s an outward feel of innocence and simplicity at first glance, but there’s so much more lying right beneath the surface, and that’s what made it beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. If I could ask for more, it would be for, well, more – I’d love to have been able to spend a little more time with Elizabeth… " ~ Author Annette Lyon
"Very well written. My heart broke for these characters. Elizabeth was amazing. Wonderful story of triumph in difficult situations." ~ Mindy

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Taylor was so named because her mother was - and still is - obsessed with the actress of the same name. Unfortunately, just like the actress, Elizabeth is going through a hard time. He mother is being physically abused by her boyfriend, and Elizabeth herself is being sexually abused by his son Ryan. Elizabeth makes a plan to run away and waits for the perfect moment - when Mark leaves his money on the kitchen bench while he's passed out drunk in the living room. She rides her bike to the next town and finds an empty shed in an abandoned campground, where she proceeds to hide in plain sight by enrolling in the local middle school and changing her name to Beth Burton. She makes a friend, Ida Mae, and she comes to the rescue of the lunch lady, Ms Meyers. But then her old life intrudes on her new life, making it impossible to keep up the charade. Elizabeth discovers that running away can cause more problems than it can solve.
This is a heartbreaking and eye-opening story of what a young girl has to endure when she has no support. From an adult's point-of-view, I found the story to be a bit contrived and predictable. There are too many coincidences, and things seem to work out a bit too easily. I'm also disappointed that Ms. Meyers' situation is never explained. Nevertheless, it is well-suited to the target young adult audience, with no explicit language or sexual content.

About the Author
Friends of Lu Ann Brobst Staheli (1954-2015) are compiling her unfinished collections and putting her published e-books into paperback. All royalties go directly to her husband and five sons.
Lu Ann got her start as a celebrity paparazzi-stalker-chick, which led to her award-winning career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. A masochist at heart, she taught junior high school English for 33 years and then moved to the school library. She once spent two weeks summer vacation backpacking through Europe with 15 of her students. Lu Ann won three Best of State Medals - two for writing and one for teaching.