If i was a real little girl i would laugh and tell Him He better put me down or else. And He would tickle me and throw me on the bed so that i bounce up and down. Then He’d read from the book, which is whole and which He gave to me only because He loves me, until i would yawn and stretch my arms and start to fall asleep. Then He’d kiss my forehead and tuck me in and turn out the lights.
But i’m not a real little girl. And we’re not a real family.
Twelve-year-old Frankie used to go out to the clearing in the forest behind her house and sit by the beautiful linden tree in the middle of it. Frankie used to laugh and read and play there with her older sister Susan and their friends, sisters Lindsey and Miranda. She used to feel God there, and be happy with all of the good things in her life.
But that was before her mother killed herself. Before Lindsey stopped talking and Miranda started lying to them and dating around. Before Susan stopped eating and put her romance novels in a moldy box in the attic. It was before Frankie started acting out in class. And before her father started doing things to Frankie that’s nothing like what’s in those romance novels.
In this novel that explores emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, Frankie struggles to make sense of the violence in her life and struggles to get her friends to open up about their abuse so that they can try to once again find that place of peace in their lives. Somewhere Only We Know shows that despite the pain, silence, and scars of abuse, there is still hope, and a new story can be told.
Somewhere Only We Know – available now from GenZ Publishing!
The First Scene
After Mama died, Susan gathered all of her romance novels and lined them up with the spines down in an old cardboard box she found in the neighbor’s garbage. When i saw her doing it, i pointed out that the box had mold growing on its side and would probably end up ruining the books. She murmured that she didn’t care as she pushed me aside and carried the box past me up into the attic.
i forgot about the books for a while. It was strange not to see Susan with her nose in one of them—the ones with the shirtless men and pretty women on the cover and with titles that always had the word “love” in them—but i got used to how she was then. Quiet. Secluded. i thought Mama dying was what did it to her, but then i realized how wrong i was.
i make my way up to the attic now after He and Susan fall asleep. i can’t remember the last time i was up here. We haven’t decorated for Christmas in years, and the only other things up here are old clothes and school work, so there hasn’t been any reason to come to the attic.
It’s dark on the stairs. i don’t turn the lights on because i don’t want them to know i’m up here. i pull the flashlight out that i had hidden in my shirt and light my path. Spiders scurry out of the beam of light, their webs swaying from their sudden movement. i remember how scared of them Susan and i used to be, how we’d stand on our beds and scream for Mama when He wasn’t home and beg her to kill them for us. Spiders don’t scare me anymore. Nothing small like that scares me anymore.
i reach the top of the stairs and start scanning the rows of boxes with the light. Of course Mama would have kept it this way, with everything neat and ordered and labeled. Row one: Susan and Frankie baby clothes. Row two: Emma’s maternity clothes and Susan and Frankie elementary school art. Our lives are organized in this space, a place He hardly ever entered. i remember looking for Mama one day to ask her a question and Susan shushing me and telling me that Mama was in the attic and i should leave her alone. In the flashlight i see the old rocking chair in one corner. Stacked next to it are a Bible, my old baby blanket, and a couple of half-empty orange prescription bottles. A photo album is opened on the chair to a page of pictures from when they brought me home from the hospital. He and Mama look so happy in the pictures, with a five-year-old Susan straining on her tippy toes to look at me in the car seat. i can see why Mama chose this to be one of the last things she looked at.
Finally, in the back of the attic i see the moldy box. Susan tried to hide it, i think. It’s tucked under an old blanket, but it sticks out because it’s not organized like the rest. i put the flashlight between my teeth so that i can use both hands to pull it out. It’s heavy, like i thought, and it makes a loud scraping noise on the wooden floor. i freeze and try to hear any movement from His room below me, but all i can hear is the sound of my heart pounding in my chest. After a couple minutes go by and i can be sure He isn’t coming, i take the flashlight out of my mouth and stretch my jaw. Then i pull back the slightly rotting flaps of cardboard and look at the books inside.
It hasn’t been long enough for them to rot too, so the books still look as she left them, a sea of cream and white pages, rolling in waves of the different heights of the books. i guess she didn’t want to see their covers, didn’t want to be reminded of what these books contain. But i need to know what’s in these books. i need to know that what He’s doing to me, to us, isn’t normal. i need to know what this is supposed to be like, what love should actually feel like. And i begin to read the pages of Susan’s books to assure myself that this isn’t normal, this isn’t right. This isn’t normal. This isn’t right.
Behind the Scenes
- Inspiration – Find out what inspired the book.
- Setting– Get an in-depth look at the three main settings.
- Cover – Find out what I love about the cover.
- Title – Hear the song that inspired the title of the book.
- Extra Scene – See a scene from the book from Susan’s point of view.
- Capitalization – Learn why I changed up the book’s capitalization.
- Writing a New Story – Find out what I want readers to take away from reading the book.
- The Books Frankie Reads – Learn why I chose the books that Frankie reads in Somewhere Only We Know.
- Fun Facts – Find out some fun little facts about the making of the book.
- 7 Questions of Creativity Interview with Jeff Leisawitz
- Interview with GenZ Publishing
- IndieView with The Indie View
“Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane
“Mended” by Matthew West
“There’s a Place for Us” by Carrie Underwood
“Grace Wins” by Matthew West
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
“Stand Strong” by Moriah Peters
Get a Hope Bracelet to help spread Somewhere Only We Know’s message of hope. I’ll be donating part of every purchase to a local domestic violence shelter. Learn more here.