Thursday, March 21, 2013

Portrait of Dawn by BJ Young

Only one person knows Bethany’s secret. After she tells her boyfriend, Ryan, of the abuse she and her mother continually suffer at the hands of her alcoholic father, he tenderly holds and comforts her. At sixteen, Bethany needs more than anything, to feel loved and safe. But one night with Ryan changes her life forever.

After Bethany discovers she’s pregnant, Ryan drops her off at an abortion clinic. She is forced to face her cold, harsh reality without him. In a split-second decision, she decides to trust her heart and have the baby. With her mother’s support, she begins a painful journey that eventually leads her to choose adoption for the child she loves, but cannot raise alone.

After many years of struggling to push past the pain of her dark childhood, Bethany begins to rebuild her life…based upon love, faith, and hope with the husband of her dreams. Suddenly, her past catches up with her.

A Portrait of Dawn is the poignant, inspirational tale of one young woman’s pilgrimage through life as she bravely faces the consequences of her actions and learns that every child is born for a reason.


Chapter 1

The course of a person’s life can be altered in just a day, sometimes in a matter of minutes.
 The letter I received in the mail yesterday carried me back, to the day my life took a drastic turn. It began like every other day in my somewhat routine life, but this one ended with my life changed forever. It was sixteen years ago, but I haven’t forgotten it. How could I? It will forever, be stored in that one private alcove of my mind. The one reserved for the memories of those early years. Memories I don’t want, but they are mine and must be stored somewhere.
Unlike some people, I know the exact day I became pregnant. It was a Friday. One week before my sixteenth birthday.
 Momma was in the kitchen fixing dinner. That’s where she was every day when I returned home from school. She knew Dad would be home at exactly five thirty and would expect dinner on the table at six o clock.
“I’m home, Momma.” I gave her a hug and she leaned over to give me a kiss on the cheek.
“How was your day?”
“Not bad. I aced that history exam.”
“That’s my girl!”
I went to my room and put my books on my desk, as I’d been trained to do. It had been pounded into my head. There’s a place for everything and everything should be in its place.  While I was there, I pulled on a warm sweatshirt. Dad didn’t allow us to turn the heat up past sixty-five degrees, so it was always cool in our house. He refused to “pad the pockets of the electric company.”
Momma had already set the table perfectly and was at the sink making the salad. I watched as she broke the lettuce into small precise pieces. Taking a tomato out of the refrigerator, she placed it on the cutting board and diced it perfectly. Little squares of red, sprinkled on the finely torn lettuce would be put back into the refrigerator so it would be cold and crisp when it was served. Right before serving it, she would sprinkle sunflower seeds and finely grated cheese evenly across the top of it. Dad insisted everything, even his salad, be perfect.
 “What can I do to help, Momma?”
“Nothing in here, but can you make sure the TV remote back in its holder? You know how upset your dad gets if he can’t find it.”
“Can do.”
“Why don’t you get started on your homework too? You may not have time later.”
“We doin’ something special tonight?”
“You never know around here.”
I gave her another quick hug before going to my room. “Love you, Momma. I hope he had a good day today.” 
“I love you too, baby. And if your daddy had a bad day, we’ll just have to humor him. It’s what we do best, you know.”
I checked to make sure the remote was in the holder beside his recliner before I went back to my room. I hated this time of the day. The waiting, to see if your dad’s in a good mood or a bad one, gets tiresome.
Momma always sent me to my room before he came home. I missed my brother Joel at this time of the day. Before he left, we spent the hours before supper doing our homework together.
 I would stay in my room until Momma called me for dinner; or until I was summoned to the living room by Dad.
 I looked at my watch right before Dad got home that day. In our home, everything was done the same way and at the same time every day.  Rituals done daily are not easily forgotten.
The sound of the garage door grinding open and the increase in my heart rate, occurred simultaneously. I could see the kitchen from my bedroom, and I watched as he came through the door. I saw him walk over to Momma at the sink and put his arms around her. He kissed her neck and whispered something in her ear.
She turned around, smiled, and kissed him back.
 How can she do that? My nails were digging into the palms of my hands and my teeth were clenched so tightly, my head ached.  
He walked to the refrigerator and took his beer mug out of the freezer. Making sure it was frosted was another one of those things he insisted Momma do for him. He opened the refrigerator and within seconds I heard the snap of a tab and the fizz as he poured his first beer of the night. He always drank the first one from the frosted mug, the rest of them he drank straight from the can. He would drink at least a dozen before the night was over.
“Supper at six?” he asked Momma. I saw her smile at him again and assure him it would be ready. He made his way to his recliner, found his remote where it was supposed to be, and settled in.
So far, so good. But if the five-thirty news doesn’t please him, things could change quickly.
I heard the snap of the tab on his second beer. I forgot all about my homework as I listened for the sound of the weather reporter’s voice. If he predicted rain, it could change the course of our evening. Dad hated working construction. He hated it even more, if he had to work it in the rain.
I knew how the evening would turn out when I heard the empty beer can hit the television. I wanted to go to the kitchen right then, grab Momma’s hand and run as fast as we could run. But I knew he would catch us.  When he did, Momma might die. 
“Bethany!” The sound of his roar made me jump. 
I got up from my desk and walked into the living room, stopping a few feet from his chair. “Hi, Daddy. You’re home.” I used my quiet timid voice, the one he seemed to like.
“Well of course I’m home. Why do you act so stupid sometimes? Go get me a couple more beers out of the fridge.”
I went to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and got the beers. When I turned to go back to the living room, Momma was getting the roast out of the oven. There were tears in her eyes.
In the living room, I handed him the beers. He looked at me through eyes already bleary. “Come over here and sit on your daddy’s lap, little girl,” he purred.
What choice did I have?  Not obeying, would only make things worse. Perhaps that’s how Momma could still kiss him. But did she hate him like I did?
I sat down on his lap and did my best not to cringe when he pulled me close. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t mean to yell at you. You aren’t stupid. You’re smart like your daddy.”  His speech was becoming slurred. “Someday you can be the architect in the family. Tell me how school was today. Did you pass that geometry test? Geometry was always my favorite subject.”
It was a history test, Dad! Not that you really care.
He rattled on through the sports cast and I sat quietly, listening to him talk about himself. He has always thought the world revolved around him.
That was one of the strange things about him; after he would lash out at us, he would become remorseful and apologetic. Then his focus would return to his own life. I know now, that’s common behavior for people like my dad.
It was a relief when Momma came to the living room and told us dinner was on the table. Things went smoothly while we ate. He’d had five beers by then. That many tended to mellow him out.
If he would have stopped with five beers that night, my life would probably be different today. But he didn’t.
Years later, I would see how it all worked out for the best. 

About the Author

Brenda Young writes under the name of B.J.Young. After retiring from a rewarding career in nursing, she continued to feel a need to nurture those who are hurting. She remembered that as a young woman, good books were a positive influence on her life, especially when she herself needed help. Her prayer is that every thing she writes will inspire and encourage others to make the best of the life given to them. She began to write short stories and devotionals for two local magazines. She has been a contributing author to anthologies, devotional books, Guidepost and Angels on Earth. Her debut novel, A Portrait of Dawn was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest and she is working on the sequel to it. She and her husband live in Northwest Ohio, where she enjoys her children and grandchildren. She is a member of ACFW and Northwest Ohio Christian Writers. 

Purchase Portrait of Dawn at:

Barnes & Noble

[Proceeds from this book will benefit my local Crisis Pregnancy Center and an organization called Children’s Lantern whose mission it is to assist with adoptions]

BJ Young is giving away a copy of Portrait of DawnTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine living with a person with his problem. That would be bad enough without the drinking. And, feel so sorry for the ones who have to live like this. I would like to win to win this book. Thanks for this chance. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

cjajsmommy said...

How many Bethanys do we meet in our lives and don't realize the pain they are going through? How many of us hold secrets that we ourselves will never tell? I would very much like to read this book. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Jean Smith said...

I feel so sorry for people being abused. They don't know what to do about it. They are afraid to tell anybody.

Library Lady said...

I would love to win the book, "Portrait of Dawn".
Thanks for the giveaway.
Janet E.

Marianne Barkman said...

Wow! I didn't want to quit reading, but that was the end of the excerpt, and I don't even like to read excerpts. This is phenomenal! Thanks for the chance to win!


Cindi A said...

Thanks for the opportunity to enter the contest for Portrait of Dawn.


squiresj said...

Would love to win this. If I do, I will also review it. God Bless you for writing this.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Teela said...

Please put me in for winning this book. I would love to read it!Thank you,

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Bethany said...

I'd love to be entered!

Cbus.blogger at gmail dot com

karenk said...

what a moving story...thanks for the chance to read this novel

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


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