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Debut YA Novel Charts Journey of Surviving Intimate Partner Violence

Book cover
Mary Cecilia Jackson's new book, Sparrow, addresses intimate partner violence.

A new young adult book tackles the issue of intimate partner violence and generational trauma. “Sparrow” was written by Mary Cecilia Jackson, who grew up in Virginia and previously worked for VPM. Phil Liles spoke to her remotely and a warning before we start - this conversation includes references to fictional traumatic events. Phil started by asking Mary to describe the main character.


Mary Jackson: Sparrow is the story of Savannah Dorsey Rose..she's a brilliant ballerina, who suffers physical and emotional violence at the hands of her boyfriend and so in order to find a path to healing after he assaults her one night has to learn to confront the ghosts who haunt her past and heal herself and cobble together a positive future in spite of her grief and pain, and her rage.

Phil liles: What does she confront as she responds to being assaulted by her boyfriend?

Jackson: Well, she wakes up in the hospital to a body that is broken beyond recognition and she has to confront that she may not in fact ever dance again, so she's very angry, she has to deal with her own anger, but she also determines that she is going to silence herself, as so many women and boys and men do after trauma, but she literally stops speaking,she won't talk to her family and she won't talk to her friends, she refuses to talk to the psychiatrist that her family in desperation bring her to and after this sort of gentle prodding by the psychriatrist she realizes that she has to speak and say all her terrible words out loud. Because that's the only way she going to get past and or learn to live a life that emcompasses the trauma that allows her to heal herself.

Liles: Did you interview survivors of abuse and assault?

Jackson: I didn't, I didn't want to approach a woman who had been through a trauma like this and expect her and ask her to relive or recount the worst moment of her life, simply because I was writing a novel, I felt that would be disrespectful and intrusive and possibly hurtful and didn't want to hurt these women anymore than they have already been hurt.

Liles: Is this book for parents and guardians too?

Jackson: Absolutely, I would hope so, I think the book will resonate not only with teens, but with adults as well...Somebody asked me the other day if I thought the book would be good for therapists, wow, I hadn't thought about that but I would love to know the book would have a larger audience to help people through their own trauma.

Liles: What do you hope people will take from this book.

Jackson: I think if I have to sum it up I would want teens and adults who are going through difficult times in their relationships, who maybe traumatized or hurt, I would like them to know that they are not alone, that are seen and that I see them and their are resources out there that care for young men and young women going through trauma and are trying to heal, people to know they are not alone...

That was Mary Cecilia Jackson speaking about her new young adult novel Sparrow.

Phil Liles is VPM's morning news host.
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