About the Book
Would life have been different for Johnnie if she'd been named after a woman rather than her dead uncle? Or if her mama hadn't been quite so beautiful or flighty? The grandparents who raised her were loving, but they didn't understand the turmoil roiling within her. And they had so many, many secrets.
Why did her mama leave? Would she ever return? How did her Uncle Johnny really die? Who was her father? Now Johnnie Kitchen is a 43-year-old woman with three beautiful children, two of them grown. She has a handsome, hardworking husband who adores her, and they live in the historic North Texas town of Portion in a charming bungalow. But she never finished college and her only creative outlet is a journal of letters addressed to both the living and the dead. Although she has conquered the bulimia that almost killed her, Johnnie can never let down her guard, lest the old demons return. Or perhaps they never went away to begin with. For Johnnie has secrets of her own, and her worst fear is that the life she's always wanted--the one where she gets to pursue her own dreams--will never begin.
Not until her ghosts reveal themselves.
Bulimia is a disease often associated with teenage girls, but for Johnnie Kitchen it's something she's been struggling with almost her entire life.
Growing up, the temptation to binge and purge constantly surrounded her since the grandmother who raised her bakes mouth-watering cakes for a living. Now her son mocks her, trivializing what she's going through. Even her husband who pays for her treatment wants to know why she's not better yet.
But Johnnie knows:
"Even when you think you've won the battle, you can never let your guard down."
Because the cause isn't physical, it's psychological.
Her mother took off when she was eight when the problems at home became too hard to bear, and Johnnie ended up blaming herself for the reason she disappeared. While her friends' moms get all dolled up to drop their daughters off at ballet and tap, Johnnie's mom was off God knows where turning tricks for a living. Her mom didn't even keep a baby book about her. All she knew about her birthday was that it fell in 1964 somewhere between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Later when she looked up her birth certificate online, she found her paternity simply listed as "father unknown."
"I spewed you out, Mama, along with gallons of ice cream, bags of potato chips, leftovers I'd rescued from the back of the fridge. Cast you out like a bad demon. All your excuses, all the times you left me high and dry."
The harsh reality that a bulimic faces is unflinchingly portrayed. From shoving the bristles of a toothbrush too far down her throat in order to make herself gag to getting caught by her husband scarfing down an entire skillet full of hamburger meat, a bulimic's shame and humiliation are ever apparent.
And the disorder continues to follow Johnnie through all stages of her life.
At eight, she is pudgy and unsure of herself, hiding under a winter coat to pretend to be thin. As a teenager, she's a lonely girl who just wants to shed fifteen pounds in order to have a boyfriend. In early adulthood, Johnnie looks at someone like the singer Karen Carpenter and how she died of anorexia and wonders:
"If someone rich and famous can get sick how can a nineteen-year-old college girl get well?"
It's only when after she gets married and her husband takes an interest in her condition that she starts to make strides in her recovery. For years, she never understood why she does what she does, choosing to view it as a dark, evil thing taking over her body.
But as she reaches middle age, she has a breakthrough as she starts to grasp the foundation of her illness.
"When I binged, I stuffed all emotions down, not just food. And when I threw up, anger and rage spewed out, too. For years, I internalized these normal human feelings—and I acted them out through bulimia."
After going back to college in her forties, she meets another woman suffering with bulimia in one of her classes. Her teeth are rotten from constant vomiting. Her eyes are bloodshot and her face sallow. She asks Johnnie for the magic pill, telling her how to quit. But Johnnie explains, it's not that easy. It's only going to work if she wants to stop bad enough. There's no other way around it.
It's a fitting message to bulimic women out there who might be reading this book—who are just as desperate to make a change, but don't know how. Johnnie's story shows them to never give up, living a healthy life with this disease can be done.
Johnnie Come Lately can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble
Special $2.99 ebook sale!
now through July 31, 2015
Genres: Military Family, Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction
Release: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
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About the Author
Award-winning author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle magazine and Military Times. Her work has also appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. Deer Hawk Publications reissued the novel in e-book and paperback September of 2014.
Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, released from Camel Press February 1, 2015. Barnes and Noble in Southlake, TX hosted the official launch on February 7, and Kathleen signed copies of both novels for three hours straight. In 2014, she was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus.
She is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas, a graduate of University of North Texas and a working artist in Denton, TX, and J.P., a graduate of Texas Tech University and a former Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in 2014 in Afghanistan. Kathleen’s husband, Tom, is a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and they reside in Colleyville, TX with their rescue dog, Denton. Kathleen is working on a new novel titled Seven Wings to Glory and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.
Links to connect with Kathleen:
Blog Tour Site
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