About Maggie's Turn
Maggie Harrison is a devoted wife and mother, always putting the needs of her family ahead of her own. Then, one day, without planning to, she drives away, leaving behind an indifferent husband and two sulking teenagers. Maggie goes off on a quest of self-exploration, enjoying adventures, meeting new people, and rediscovering her passions. For the first time in years, she dreams about what she wants out of life, and she realizes that her deteriorating marriage can no longer continue as it is. Can she and Andrew repair their floundering relationship, or is their marriage over?
Andrew Harrison likes his life to be in perfect order. He enjoys his work and status in the community, leaving Maggie to take care of everything at home. He knows his marriage isn’t perfect, but after twenty-three years and two kids, whose marriage is? When Maggie leaves without a word, he is forced to start paying more attention to his home life and his almost grown children, and he begins to do a little self-exploration of his own. Slowly, he begins to understand what drove Maggie away, and how important she is in his life. Is it too late to resolve their differences and save their marriage? Or will Andrew lose Maggie forever?
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Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Author: Deanna Lynn Sletten
Maggie Harrison gives everything to her family and friends. So much so, that she forgets to take care of herself. When she reaches her breaking point, as much a surprise to her as everyone else, she takes off and keeps going.
Her husband, Andrew, is initially blindsided. But once his anger begins to fade and he sees everything crumbling without his wife, he realizes he's about to lose the best thing that has ever happened to him. But is he too late?
Although a simple story, one that doesn't requite twists and turns and shock value, Maggie's Turn packs an emotional punch. It really spoke to me. As a reader, I can't predict where other people are when they read something, but I was in a place to really immerse myself in Maggie's life. Character-driven stories appeal to me, especially when I care about what happens to them.
Sometimes a real story, one with everyday feelings and emotions, is like a warm chocolate chip cookie for the soul. Maggie's Turn is that story. At least, I can honestly say it touched my heart and reminded me to live every day to its fullest.
Rating: 4.5 stars
First Chapter Reveal
It had not been a good morning at the Harrison household. At least not for Maggie. Her nineteen-year-old son, Kyle, had slept in late, which meant he was late showering and would be late to one of the four college courses he was intent upon failing. Because he was running behind, her fourteen-year-old daughter, Kaia, was late getting ready for school, which meant Maggie’s husband, Andrew, had to rush to shower for work. And, of course, Maggie had to rush too since she was always the last person to use the bathroom.
Kaia was pouting and stomping around, because she’d wanted to get to school early to “hang” with her friends. Kyle rolled his eyes as he went out the door to his rusted pickup truck, mumbling that it really didn’t matter if he made it to class or not. And Andrew ran through his schedule with Maggie as he rushed out the door to work.
“Remember, I have a seven o’clock meeting tonight, so make sure dinner is on time so I’m not late,” he instructed Maggie and was gone a second later.
All Maggie had time for was one long sigh as she slipped a light sweater over her head, pulled on khaki pants, and grabbed her short, red wool jacket and purse, then ran out the door, hoping Kaia wouldn’t be late for school.
Maggie stole a glance at her sulking daughter as she maneuvered her minivan through the morning traffic. Kaia was a pretty girl with long, thick auburn hair and brilliant blue eyes. Her clear skin was still lightly tanned from summer vacation. She’d be even prettier, Maggie thought, if she’d smile once in a while. Maggie couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen Kaia smile. Or joke, or tease. It seemed, in one instant, she’d gone from a happy, young girl to a sulking teenager. But Maggie couldn’t complain. Despite Kaia’s constant irritation with her, she was a good student, had nice friends, and wasn’t a troublemaker. Maggie knew she was fortunate for that. Both her children had turned out to be decent people, if not a little confused about life. But who wasn’t confused at their ages? Fourteen and nineteen weren’t easy. Maggie tried to understand and give them room to figure things out, but sometimes, it was so difficult. Kyle had gone from a high school honor graduate to a flunking college student, and he didn’t seem to care one bit. All he seemed to enjoy was his part-time job at the local motorcycle shop. Seven-fifty an hour seemed fine to him. He had no financial obligations other than keeping gas in his pickup and going out with friends. Maggie sometimes wondered how he thought he’d make it on his own without a decent education, but she forced herself not to obsess over it. She had so many other things she could choose to worry about.
The traffic was heavy despite the fact that Woodroe was a small, northern Minnesota town of about twenty thousand people. Maggie couldn’t help but sigh again as she followed the parade of parents in minivans and SUVs in a rush to drop their children off at school. It was only the third week of school, and she was already tired of the morning traffic in and out of the much-too-small middle school parking lot. There was no doubt at all in Maggie’s mind, parents in minivans and SUVs were the worst drivers on the planet. She found herself in near-accidents at least three times daily upon entering or driving through the parking lot. Everyone had somewhere better to be and needed to get there faster than the next person. It was the same old story, year after year.
Maggie followed the other parents in the long line entering the parking lot, waiting her turn to drop Kaia off at the front entrance. Country music blared from the minivan’s speakers—Kaia’s choice. Maggie always let Kaia choose the music when they rode together. It was much easier than fighting over the radio. Soon enough, Maggie would be able to pop in the CD of her choice as she headed home.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t get here earlier,” Maggie offered, as they pulled up in front of the school and stopped.
“Whatever,” Kaia said under her breath, as she gathered her book bag and tennis racket. “Remind Dad to pick me up after tennis practice tonight,” were her last words before slamming the van’s door and stalking off. She didn’t give her mother time to say goodbye or even wish her a good day.
Maggie tried not to take it personally, but her heart felt heavy as she turned AM to CD on the stereo and listened to Bob Seger sing “Roll Me Away”, a song about escaping down a western highway on his big two-wheeler. Maggie had bought the CD on a whim two weeks ago, remembering how much she’d loved listening to Seger years ago, before marriage, before kids, and before life took control of her instead of the other way around. His music had a freeing effect, and she’d been listening to it continuously ever since.
Maggie dutifully followed the line of cars out of the parking lot to go home. She was relieved she didn’t have to work today. Three days a week, she worked at a group home with developmentally challenged adults. It was gratifying working with her challenged friends, and she enjoyed it, but sometimes, it was exhausting meeting their needs all day, then going home to care for the needs of her family. Lately, she’d felt overwhelmed by it all—home, work, Andrew, and the kids. There never seemed to be a break in everyone’s needs and wants.
Once, a long time ago, Maggie had dreamt of being a professional photographer and owning her own shop, where she could sell photos and artwork by area artists. When she and Andrew were newlyweds, they’d talked about this often, and Andrew had said that once they were settled and had some money, it might be a possibility. But the years went by, and Maggie became so enveloped in the children’s lives, and in Andrew’s, that her dreams had been put on the backburner, long forgotten. Today, though, as Maggie sat in traffic behind other mothers and fathers leaving the middle school, she thought about her old dreams and wondered if they would ever come true.
As the music played and traffic crawled along, she let her mind drift back to the morning rush at home. Andrew hadn’t kissed her goodbye. Not even a peck on the cheek. When was the last time he had? She really couldn’t remember. Was it a year ago, two years ago? The heaviness in her chest swelled. Their relationship had changed greatly in the twenty-three years they’d been married. She remembered back to when they first began dating in college in Seattle, Washington. He’d moved there for school to experience something different from his small-town upbringing. Her father had been stationed there at a military base. Andrew had been a communications major, and she’d majored in art, focusing on photography. He’d been very conservative then, but her impulsive nature had brought out the fun side in him. She’d planned trips on a whim, dragging him along with her and her camera to rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and romantic parks on Puget Sound. Sometimes, they drove to Lake Tahoe and stayed the weekend without even a second thought. She made him promise on the day they married that they would always allow a little wanderlust in their lives, no matter how conventional they became. And she’d believed him when he said they would.
Maggie pulled up and stopped at the red light where she was to turn north to go home. She hit the back button on the stereo to once again play “Roll Me Away”. She didn’t switch her right blinker on to signal her turn. She just sat there, looking straight ahead. The lane headed west, just as Bob said he was doing in the song. West, across the plains, over the mountains, to the ocean. She glanced at the back seat, where her Cannon camera lay in its case. Beside it, her laptop computer also sat. Wouldn’t it be fun, just for a little while, to drive a different direction and take a few snapshots? Just a few miles, not too far, not for too long. Maggie’s heavy heart lightened at the thought, and a smile lit up her blue eyes. North or west? One direction meant home, the other, adventure. North or west?
The light changed to green, and Maggie didn’t give it another thought. She turned up her stereo, smiled wide, and said out loud to no one but herself, “Roll me away.” And she rolled clean out of sight.
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About the Author
Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.
Deanna’s romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara’s Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.
Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.
Her latest book is the contemporary women’s fiction, Maggie’s Turn.
Visit Deanna at her website at www.deannalsletten.com. Or, you can connect via Twitter and Facebook.
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Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for including me on this blog tour.
Note: I received a complimentary copy from Pump Up Your Book for review purposes. No other compensation was received. A positive review was not guaranteed or requested; the views expressed are my own.