Kennedy Sawyer is the valedictorian of her upper middle class, liberal high school.
Roland Abbot is the charismatic, attractive televangelist from New Life Church with a dark past and an illegitimate child.
Ignoring the cautions of her mother and the confusion of her Ivy League-bound friends, Kennedy enrolls at the conservative Christian Carter University where her sights are set on Roland Abbot—her birth father.
Kennedy’s intentions are to learn more about her father than the Bible. However, roommates who are quick to evangelize to strangers, an RA who seems to be hiding something, and friends in the most unlikely places challenge everything she’s ever held as true in the raging battle of us vs. them.
Mom turns the car left and we pass through the gates of the main entrance to the university. Excitement triples inside me as I swallow the beauty of the grounds. I visited probably ten public and private universities between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, and nothing was as shiny as this campus. I can’t even believe it’s real grass, and I almost ask my mom to stop the car so I can touch it.
I grin as I plan one more gentle act of rebellion from the passenger seat of the car. Reaching forward, I press the “6” on the stereo, and suddenly the sounds of Casting Crowns— a wildly popular Christian band—fill the car. My mom’s eye-roll and turning down of the volume elicits a laugh from me.
She hastily pushes another button, and Boy George serenades us. I laugh harder, and she finally joins in.
“Kennedy,” she says in a moment of seriousness when the song ends. “I don’t understand how you’re being so calm about all of this. There isn’t even anything here you want to do.”
I lean my head back on the headrest. “No, Mom. There’s nothing here that you want me to do. I’m undecided, remember? Anyway, I don’t now why you’re being so insane. I’m an adult.” “These kids…” she starts in a wide-eyed whisper as if we’ve taken a detour onto another planet.
“Are people,” I cut in.
“Who can vote,” she snaps back. I ignore her. “They’re people with parents and high school diplomas and dreams for the future. Besides, they’ll probably be more afraid of me than I am of them.” I barely believe what I’m saying. Politics aside, the kids who enroll at Carter University are bona fide Jesus Freaks. Capital J. Capital F. I might be Christian as far as the outside world is concerned, but my fledgling knowledge of the Bible and sporadic church attendance won’t fly inside this lion’s den. Which is why I’m keeping it all a secret.
My knowledge of the Bible (which is slim) and my commitment to walking with Christ on a daily basis (I don’t even really know what that means) will be on silent lockdown while I acclimate to my new surroundings. Most importantly, though, no one—and I mean no one—will know that Roland Abbot is my birth father until I’m good and ready. Which might be never
The morning after Kennedy Sawyer confirmed to the world that she is the daughter of internationally renowned televangelist Roland Abbot, she’s faced with a new challenge: What kind of daughter does she want to be to him? The sometimes kind, the title kind, or the all-in kind?
In the months following her decision, Kennedy is faced with sex, drugs, extended family, lying, threats, booze, strip clubs, and wavering faith among her family and friends.
Exploring how much honesty is too much, Kennedy pushes the boundaries of all of the relationships around her to see if God really lies somewhere beneath it all.
I’ve never seen the inside of a strip club. Not on TV, the internet, or in magazines. And, certainly not in person. But, I guess the negative discussion surrounding places like this always led me to believe it would be kind of dark and smoky. Walking past men who look about the size of the trucks they drove here, I slide into a table in the back. “Coffee or coke?” A young woman who can’t be that much older than me—if she’s older than me at all—stands in front of me with her hip jutting out to once side, and her hand resting on it. Lifting my eyes, I’m forced to immediately lower them. She’s barely wearing anything. I swear I see more clothing at the public swimming pool. Spandex “shorts” show the sides of her butt, and her bra-looking top reveals her entire midsection, which is speckled with star and fairy tattoos. When I’m finally able to train my eyes on her face, I notice that she also has a large tattoo across her chest. Twisting thorns and vines with roses every other inch. “Coffee or coke?” she repeats. It seems, as she stands there trying not to look bored, that I feel more naked than she does. “Coke.” “You been here before?” Her eyes wrinkle at the sides in amusement. I stare back, unable to say anything. She snaps some gum between her teeth. “Thought so. I’ll be right back with your Coke, sweetie.” Before she turns around, I notice her name tag says “Destiny.” I run my hand over my face, trying to reason if that’s her real name, or not. If you worked in a place like this, would you want people calling you by your real name all day? Or, would you want to pretend. Use another name to make you feel like this was all just make-believe, and not your real life at all. As she walks away, shaking her hips, I spot matching angel wing tattoos on her shoulder blades. Cute. If anyone asked my dad’s name, I wonder, staring at my hands, did he give it? Did he tell them that he was happily married with two children at home? Would he preach the gospel to them as they dangled their breasts in his face? God, I hope not.
I started writing poetry long before writing fiction. I firmly believe Poetry is a solid foundation for all other forms of writing. It taught me that a single word can make or break the world.
I write fiction because my characters have a story and they want me to tell it.
I hope you enjoy the pieces of my soul that I share with you.