When It Hits Too Close to Home
When I finished ENGAGED last year, I was set to start my next contemporary romance series, Surrendering Opinions. God often has other plans, and when both of our children went through adversity that I couldn’t stop or fix, it was our daughter He used to bring a new series to mind.
For Hannah, she was transitioning to junior high, never an easy time. More than that, there were situations when people in her influence chose to tear down instead of build up, and in a matter of months, Hannah went from smiling and joyful to withdrawn and depressed. My husband and I prayed through options and once a plan was in place and things settled, Hannah and I talked about how we handled things. There were choices we thought were wise, and things we thought we could improve on.
As Hannah continued to share, she told me she wished there was a way to encourage girls before they encountered situations like what she went through. She kept talking, and a story began to form. I realized something was there, a tangible message that could help girls of all ages. I promised I would write it if she kept going with the plot and help me through the process.
Hannah plotted a three-book series.
You’re Beautiful is the first book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series. It follows a group involved with a mentoring ministry called Linked. In You’re Beautiful, Hayley is a junior high student who attends Linked with her friends. She is told she is not just “ugly, but pretty ugly.” Hayley believes it, and withdraws from her friends and Linked. At the same time, one of the mentors, Sabrina, is trying to adjust to life as a college graduate. She runs into a family member who reminds her that her chances of finding love and marriage are not good. Both Sabrina and Hayley have to face the lies they believed and surrender them, so they can find freedom in Christ.
Hannah created character names and supervised my writing. One of the chapters involves Hayley going to the mall with her friends. As they try on clothes, Hayley realizes the stores Jazmin and Bethany love don’t feature sizes for her. That’s something I can relate to, even as I approach fifty. I clearly remember a boy raising his hand in gym class during our swim rotation asking the teacher, while pointing at me, “Does fat float?” He could have kicked me and the breathless feeling wouldn’t have been as strong as the pain I felt that day. Knowing all Hannah has been through with her health, her slight delays, and bullying issues made writing that chapter raw, but therapeutic. Hannah never lost sight that this book is to help others, even if we had to hurt first.
We tell people that the book is for girls ages 10-100. We’re finding that grandmothers are remembering times from their childhood and are impacted as much as current tweens and teens. If one reader decides to watch their words and use them to build others up, we believe our experiences were worth it.
You’re Beautiful by Hannah Arduini & Julie Arduini
Hayley Atkinson withdraws from her friends and new opportunities with the new mentoring group, Linked,after she is told a lie that she believes is true about herself. Sabrina Wayson is a mentor in Linked who feels she can’t help encourage girls because she’s struggling as much as they are. Can they surrender the lies and find freedom?
ABOUT HANNAH AND JULIE:
Hannah Arduini is in the eighth grade and lives outside of Youngstown, Ohio. She loves fashion, Starbucks, and serving at church. She has a brother who lives at home, and siblings that live in Wisconsin. She also has two nephews. You’re Beautiful is her first published book.
Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the contemporary romance series Surrendering Time, featuring ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED. FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER is her 30-day devotional using the surrender themes and characters from the series. She shares her infertility story in A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and also is a blogger for Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com.