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Middle Grade Novel about Abusive Relationships Honored for Making a Difference in the World

When I worked as a teacher and then a teacher/counselor in different high schools, I was shocked to discover that a significant number of students, both female and male, were trapped in unhealthy relationships that ranged from toxic to downright abusive. Out of care and concern for these adolescents grew Losing Elizabeth. I wanted to reach teens, starting in middle school but older adolescents as well, through a simple story, stripped of extraneous detail that could detract from the message.  I sought to write a tale of fiction that would entertain rather than preach and one that could reach younger adolescents before they begin to date as well as older ones who themselves might be trapped in a controlling relationship. The result was Losing Elizabeth.

In Losing Elizabeth, high school junior Elizabeth Carter is outgoing and confident. When she becomes entwined in a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship with Brad Evans, she begins to lose herself as he takes over her life. Readers travel with Elizabeth on a road filled with both joy and pain that ultimately is a search for love, friendship, and identity.

The book and its theme gained the attention of Storytellers Campfire, an active literary and art group. They invited me onto their radio show in 2012 to discuss unhealthy, abusive relationships and Losing Elizabeth (and again in 2014 to discuss anxiety and My Life in a Nutshell: a Novel), and the show about adolescent relationships was one of their top five most-listened to shows in 2012.

Storytellers Campfire further honored Losing Elizabeth when they awarded it the 2015 Marble Book Award, their most prestigious Marble Award.  The award is bestowed upon the author of a “book which has made a significant difference in the world.” Storytellers Campfire has this to say about Losing Elizabeth: “The staff at Storytellers Campfire highly recommends this book for parents and young teens and young adults. This is a strong story and a necessary one.” —Storytellers Campfire, “Where Literary Art Comes To Life”

Reader Grady Harp with Literary Aficionado states, “Yes, the story is solid and well told, with all the subtleties of teenage attraction and naivete as they approach their first relationship with the opposite sex. [B]ut the important aspect of this novel is in its providing a story to which young adults can relate that warns about abusive relationships….And for that reason, Tanya J. Peterson has performed a social duty in addition to writing a fine little book.”

I couldn’t be more pleased with the honor I received in the Marble Award awarded by Storytellers Campfire and with the inspiring reviews from readers. It is my great hope that this story reach as many adolescents as possible as they embark on their journey into the world of relationships.

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