Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review Tour - In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Welcome to my stop on Terri Giuliano Long's Review Tour for In Leah's Wake.  Please be sure to leave Terri a comment a question below to let her know you were here and also to enter her tour wide giveaway of a $100 Holiday Cash Amazon Gift Card, which will be awarded to a random commenter during her tour.  You can follow all of her tour stops here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.


 In Leah's Wake
 by Terri Giuliano Long
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Published by: Terri Giuliano Long
ISBN: 978-0-615608-32-7
Length:370 Pages


A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace

At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.

As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.

Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share—by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.

WINNER, Global eBook Award, Popular Literature, 2012

WINNER, Indie Discovery Award, Literary Fiction, 2012
Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place 

Praise for In Leah’s Wake

“An astounding story of a family in transition." -- Tracy Riva, Midwest Reviews

"A powerful and intimate portrait of a family in disarray." -- Margot Livesey, award-winning author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"Terri Long's accomplished first novel takes the reader on a passionate roller-coaster ride through contemporary parenthood and marriage. Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, always tender." -- Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author of Take One Candle, Light A Room

"An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts." -- Naomi Blackburn, top Goodreads reviewer worldwide, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

“A very moving and, at times, heartbreaking story which will be loved by many, whether they are parents or not.”-- A. Rose, Amazon UK, TOP 100 REVIEWER

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.”-- Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

"A masterpiece of psychological tension and unbearable suspense, a portrait of America in the present day." -- Frederick Lee Brooke, author of Doing Max Vinyl

“Multiple ripples of meaning contribute to the overall intensity of this deeply moving psychological drama.”-- Cynthia Harrison, author of The Paris Notebook



On their way home from the workshop, Leah said, “I’m impressed, Ma.”

They were stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to change. Zoe looked at her daughter and smiled. “Thank you, honey. That’s sweet.” This is my daughter, she thought. This is my Leah.

“I mean it.” Leah turned the radio up. “You’re great with them.”

Why in the world were they constantly fighting? Getting along required only this: mutual respect.

The car behind them honked. The light had turned. Startled, Zoe stepped too heavily on the gas. The car jerked into the intersection.

Leah grabbed the handhold above her door, letting out a yelp.

“Sorry,” Zoe said sheepishly. “Think there’s a Success Skills workshop for driving?”

“Driver’s Ed,” Leah said, giggling. When they finally stopped laughing, she said, “Can I ask you something, Mom?”

“Certainly, sweetheart. Anything.”

“What made you do it? The seminars, I mean.”

“Tough question.” She’d been unhappy. No, unhappy was the wrong word. Frustrated. Discontented, maybe. “Something,” Zoe said quietly, “was missing.” She signaled their turn onto Main Street. Don’t get her wrong: she loved her family. She squeezed Leah’s forearm. Most days, she enjoyed her job. “How can I explain it?” She wanted to make a difference. “I thought if I could help people make important changes in their lives, I’d be doing something worthwhile.”

“Was it hard?” Leah reminded her of the long hours she’d spent developing, organizing, and marketing her workshops. She reminded Zoe of her so-called friends and colleagues, who’d warned her that in a tiny suburb like theirs she’d never attract enough attendees to make the venture worthwhile, who’d insisted that she was wasting her time. “Don’t you get tired? Do you ever think about quitting?”

“Sure,” Zoe admitted. “Sometimes. Then I think about the women I’m helping and I get excited again.” She told Leah about the cards and letters she received after the workshops, thanking her, telling her—she laughed—she was an angel. “The confidence I see in their eyes at the end of the day. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

After that, Leah grew quiet.

They passed a cornfield, the harvested stalks lying in the furrows, to be shredded for compost. Soon the fields gave way to forest.

Leah yawned. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Zoe turned off the radio and plugged a CD into the changer. The Liszt piano solos had been a gift from a student. “You’ll like the freethinking music,” the woman had said, and she had been right.

Zoe stroked Leah’s temples, pushing the hair out of her daughter’s eyes. Zoe felt sick about their blowout yesterday. The business with this Todd was her fault as much as Leah’s. If she’d paid closer attention to her daughter, instead of allowing herself to be driven by the demands of work, Leah would not have looked for affirmation from a person like Corbett. That’s all in the past, Zoe vowed. From now on, she planned to be available for her children. She’d rearrange her patient schedule so that she was there when Justine came home from school. She’d pick up Leah after practice; she’d attend every game. She would set aside at least four hours of individual, quality time, per week, for each of the girls. She’d pack healthy, appetizing lunches. Bake cookies. Sew Halloween outfits. She’d be the perfect mother. Better than perfect, she thought, and brought herself up short. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take this one step at a time.

On Old Orchard Road, a mile from home, Leah opened her eyes, yawning. “I was having this crazy dream,” she said, yawning again.

“What were you dreaming about?”

Leah rubbed her eyes. “I can’t remember. What’s this music?”

“Liszt. Hungarian Rhapsodies. A student gave it to me. Like it?”

“It’s cool,” Leah said, fingering her belly ring. “Kind of—wild.”

“It’s gypsy music.” Zoe eyed the ring. “Did it hurt? Getting pierced?”

“Not too much. You still mad?”

Zoe squeezed Leah’s thigh. “No, sweets. But I wish you’d talked to me first.”

“You weren’t home,” Leah said, a hint of accusation in her tone.

“Sorry. I’d like to have been there for you. That’s all I meant.”

“Dad was pissed.” Leah scraped her thumbnail, chipping the garish blue polish.

Zoe remembered. Will had been angry with her, too. In the Tyler household, by order of both parents, belly rings were forbidden. If you’d stay on top of things, she might not have done this, he’d charged, after the girls had gone to bed. “So it’s my fault?” Zoe shot back. “Like you’re ever around?” The argument ended in a stalemate. “Dad doesn’t mean to be so hard on you, honey. He just worries.”

Slouching, Leah slid her hands under her thighs. “He doesn’t need to.” She wasn’t a baby.

“I know, sweetie.” Zoe signaled their turn onto Lily Farm Road. “It’s just, it’s scary being a parent. The decisions you make now—”

“Will affect the rest of my life. God, Mom. Can’t you say something different for once?”

“We’re your parents, sweetie. It’s our job to provide guidance.”

Leah bolted upright. “You are such a hypocrite. All day long you tell those women to make their own decisions. Then you tell your own daughter she’s supposed to listen to you?”

Zoe tightened her grip on the wheel. True, she advised her students to take control of their lives. But that was advice for adults. “You’ll be an adult soon enough, Leah. Then you can make all your own decisions. For now—”

“I’m an adult already.”

“You’re sixteen, honey. I know you feel like an adult—”

“Well, guess what, Mom?“ Leah shifted aggressively toward her door. “In November, I’ll be seventeen. You’ll have no say over me then.”

Zoe’s jaw clenched. A therapist, she was well aware of the state law governing the legal age of adulthood. “Until you’re a responsible adult—living on your own—your father and I make the rules.”

“So I’m irresponsible now?”

Zoe caught herself, before she went on a rant about Corbett. She felt closer to Leah today than she’d felt in ages. She refused to end the day with a fight. She reached for Leah’s arm. “Honey, listen. All I said is—”

Leah jerked away. “You said I’m a baby.”

Patience, Zoe told herself. Take a breath. She eased the Volvo alongside the mailbox, pulled out the mail and set it on the console, then turned into their driveway. “Honey,” she said, forcing a smile, “think about it. How would you feel if your daughter came in at three—”

“Oh my God,” Leah spat. “That’s why you were so big on me coming.” She scooped her team jacket from the floor. “So you could get me alone. Try to get me to dump him. I hate to break it to you, Mom. You wasted your time. It’s up to me who I go out with.”

“Leah, please.” Zoe stopped at the foot of the drive and pressed the button to lift the garage door. Leah’s dollhouse sat on the metal shelf at the back of the garage. When Leah was six, Zoe and Will had bought two houses, one for each of the girls, at a yard sale. At night, after the kids had gone to bed, they’d decorated the houses, painting and papering the walls. She’d cut squares from scatter rugs to carpet the floors, sewed tiny Cape Cod curtains for the miniature windows. Until last summer, Leah had kept the dollhouse on a table next to her bed. One day, she’d decided that she was too old for a dollhouse, and carried it down here. Leah wasn’t a baby. Zoe knew that. She wanted to protect her daughter; keep her safe. “I didn’t say a word about your boyfriend.”

“Right, so lie to me now.”

“Well, honey, admit it, he’s not exactly a person any parent—”

Leah clapped her hands over her ears.

“—wants to see their child—”

“La, la, la, la, la,” Leah sang.

“Listen to me.” Zoe pried her daughter’s hands away from her head. “He’s not good for you, honey. He’ll hurt you—”

“La, la, la, la, la,” Leah trilled, her voice drowning Zoe’s.

“Damn it, Leah. He used to be a roadie. This is not a good guy.”

“I don’t need this.” Leah flipped the lock on her door.

Zoe caught Leah’s wrist. “The kid sells drugs, for God’s sake.”

“You tricked me,” Leah spat. “I’m done with you,” she shouted, wrenching free. “I’m never going with you again. Anywhere. Ever.”

“No problem,” Zoe spat back. She was sorry she’d talked the little brat into coming. Big mistake. She should have known this would happen. “Believe me, I have no intention of asking again.”

“I hate you,” Leah cried. “I hate you. I’m not pretending I don’t anymore.”

Leah slammed the door, and went hurtling into the house.

The histrionic gypsy music rang in Zoe’s ears. She slapped the dash, her fingers fumbling with the dial, and cut the music off.

She’d lost her cool, said all the wrong things. Leah was spewing words, trying to hurt Zoe as much as Zoe had hurt her. Leah wanted reassurance. She wanted to be told she was capable and smart. She wanted to know that Zoe was proud of her, that she trusted her to make her own decisions. Zoe had let her down. She’d seen the ache in her daughter’s eyes, the disappointment. Maybe this was what people meant by the term “growing pains,” not the pain children experienced in their joints as their limbs grew, but the ache they felt in their hearts.

Zoe stared at the discarded playthings in their garage, Leah’s dollhouse, her tricycle, her wooden blocks dissolving in a watery blur. If only you knew how hard it is to watch you stumble, to see you in pain. Pull yourself together, Zoe told herself. Don’t let your failures defeat you. Yet here she was, her failures an anchor, sucking her under the sea.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest, with appearances on hundreds of blogs. She’s written news and feature articles for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. Her debut novel, In Leah's Wake, was a Kindle bestseller for more than 6 months. For information, please visit her website:

Twitter: @tglong


My Review: 

With the message that growing pains are as difficult on parents as they are on children, Terri Giuliano Long gives us In Leah's Wake.  An emotionally engaging tale with complex characters, realistic and occasionally frank dialogue, and a well paced plot, this take on modern family life in suburbia deals with teenage rebellion and a marriage in crisis.  It was more than what I expected.

A picture of the typical American family, Will, Zoe, Leah and Justine Tyler are a family in flux.  Allowing distance and a lack of communication to grow between them, Will and Zoe find themselves unprepared for the challenges of dealing with a rebellious teen bent on testing all of the boundaries in their lives.  When Leah, their 16 year old daughter goes from being the star of the soccer team and an above average student to skipping class, smoking weed and hanging out with the wrong crowd, Will becomes the parent who believes in ultimate discipline while Zoe wants to try a laid back approach to try to get in touch with the girl she used to be.  Almost ignoring their younger daughter, Justine, Will and Zoe soon find themselves at odds with each other and with both of their kids.

Giving us insight into the mind of all four main characters, Ms. Long gives her characters one challenge after another.  While open and honest communication is what they all desperately need, Will, Zoe, Leah and even Justine, are caught in an emotional roller coaster full of accusations, guilt, anger and loneliness.  Taking the reader along for the ride, Ms. Long treats the reader to all of the emotional angst these characters suffers.  There were actually times where I wanted to put them all in a room, tie each of them to a chair and force them to talk and really listen to each other.  Of course there were also plenty of times when I wanted to lock Leah in her room and throw away the key.

Will Will and Zoe be able to resolve their problems before their family life goes up in smoke?  Will Leah realize the destructive path she's been on will only lead to something worse?  You'll have to read In Leah's Wake to find out.  

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Don't forget to leave Terri a comment a question below to let her know you were here and to enter her tour wide giveaway of a $100 Holiday Cash Amazon Gift Card, which will be awarded to a random commenter during her tour. You can follow all of her tour stops here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.


  1. Sounds like a complex and intriguing story. Can I ask what the inspiration was?

    1. Hi Nancy - I was inspired by reading many stories of teen pressure and the difficulties it can create within the family dynamic. I think it's so hard to be a teen these days, but that said, Leah still made me want to scream at times!

    2. Yeah I imagine that it is hard for a teen these days. I have a fourteen year old and he's going through a rough patch of peer pressure.

  2. Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful write up! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and review the book so thoughtfully!

    My best,

  3. The comments on the story were great, and i loved the review. Ithink this excerpt was awesome.

  4. Thank you for the great review. I enjoyed the excerpt, it sounds like a good read.

  5. Wow from the little incerpt sounds like this story is full of emotion - which is great for a book.
    From the review it sounds like this book is a total keeper. When a book engages the readers emotions I call it a keeper.

  6. Great review! The emotions in this story are captivating!

    lyra.lucky7 at gmail dot com

  7. Congratulations on the high awards you have already recieved. As a result I am highly anicipating checking out this story,though I think I might need a box of tissues handy

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  8. The excerpt really gives a great feel for the tone and style of the book--exploring a full range of family emotions and dynamics. It's not always easy for the reader to share.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  9. That was a nice excerpt and review.


  10. So much pain & hurt in the excerpt. Such a great read.


  11. I love your review. I think you nailed all the aspects of this book. It is such an amazing read, i recommend it for anyone with a family. Young, old, we can all learn from this

    Carrie dot rogozinski at

  12. Reading the review makes me want to read the book again.

    Thanks for sharing.

    kybunnies -at- gmail -dot- com

  13. Thank you for the review. I'm looking forward to reading the book.


  14. I felt so bad for the Tyler family. I mean everybody had some sort of struggle in that novel, which made it an emotional read. Thanks for sharing.