As easily as Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) accepts the fact that her third novel, Exposure — in bookstores tomorrow, May 3, 2011 –, was meant to be, she also shrugs off early reviews that describe her writing as brave.
Every fictional story begins with an idea of truth and, while the author’s truth came from her son’s arrest for what the media dubbed a sexting crime, Exposure is entirely fictional. However Therese is a Mother, sociologist, and novelist who knows the power of words and what books can do. Writing this cautionary tale was necessary not only to address human mistakes but to hopefully make a difference in what happens afterwards. Also she wanted to provide hours of good reading.
Randy Susan Meyers’ quote describes how well the novelist succeeded: “Headlines rarely reveal the truth. Exposure does. I couldn’t put it down.”
Here’s the synopsis for Exposure:
In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.
Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.
Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.
As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all. A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.
Now an Excerpt — The first three chapters of the novel.
A love story, a coming-of-age story in the 21st century, Exposure works because Therese created two honest-to-goodness adolescents who — though anything but average — are still in the developing stage of life. In other words, they have a great deal to learn. Anthony has a slight chip on his shoulder but his kindness and determination to succeed prevail. And Amelia, for all she has, hides her own background flaws. Both are real, likable, and even understandable. But where did they come from? The Divining Wand asked the author and she said:
“The teens were inspired first by a good friend’s daughter who lives in Amelia’s world of dance and drama, combined with my own past (community) theater experience. Because I love Shakespeare and because I knew this would be a story about young love, I used a Romeo and Juliet framework, and that helped shape the parents’ roles. But the particulars of each character–Anthony’s chip, Amelia’s stutter, Harlan and Kim’s pasts and occupations and beliefs–arrived organically.”
Another significant characteristic is the shared individual passion/dream that both teens have for life. This energy and goal-oriented perspective makes them a bit different from their classmates and inevitably attracts them to each other. It’s an essential message to note, explaining why the book is about the powerful bond of pure, first love rather than sex. In fact sex, except for the criminal charges of sexting, is neither steamy nor seamy. There is no reason it needs to be.
Instead the compelling elements of Exposure focus on Amelia and Anthony’s love, parental (over)reaction, others’ assumptions, and the law’s interpretation. When these things collide, the plot takes on an out-of-control force of its own. And, to the author’s credit, she guides the events that follow without getting in the way. For the truth is that this author’s Fairy Godmother was stunned when, with merely fifty pages left to read, there appeared to be no resolution in sight.
While Therese admits that the book almost flowed by itself, she also says:
“I should note that in some ways the teens were also responsible for how dire the situation became–their youth and naivete led them in a direction that made sense to them but may not have been so wise. We think we know so much at that age…”
Adolescents think they know as do parents, educators, and the legal system. However, in this brave new world, do any of us know how to maintain privacy and protect ourselves from blurred lines?
Indeed it requires caution, yet is there a solution when caution isn’t taken?
According to the author, “Every situation will demand its own solution. Foremost, I would say everyone involved should take a step back and look at what’s really going on. The consequences of overreaction from any quarter are potentially huge.”
“Huge” is also THE word to describe Exposure. With perfect timing of telling life behind sensational headlines, Therese Fowler has written her BEST novel yet. Remember this “must read” is fiction, yet oh too true!
[For those who may not know, Therese and Exposure were featured/reviewed -- Fowler gives 'Exposure' to dangers of teen sexting -- in USA Today last Thursday, April 28, 2011.]
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.