Soon after I met my husband I learned he’d attended a military boarding school. But it wasn’t until a few years ago when we talked in detail that I realized how traumatic and difficult this experience had been.
When I was in my early teens I read this series about a couple of twins attending a boarding school. The stories sort of glorified the adventures ‘inside,’ lots of fun, a great social life, pranks and the occasional misfit that was swiftly dealt with. It all sounded so good, I wouldn’t have minded attending myself.
The reality looked and probably still looks much different, especially when attending a military prep school. My husband was sent away by this family at the age of 14, a difficult time for any teenager, but horribly hard when one is poor and then cast among a group of boys from wealthy and powerful families.
The plot of A DIFFERENT TRUTH is a historical mystery and fictitious. It has nothing to do with an actual school. However, the feelings the protagonist, Andy Olson, experiences are quite realistic. Knowing what I learned from my husband’s history, I realize I’d been utterly miserable in such a school.
This is not to say that some individuals don’t thrive in such an environment. Students are certainly taught to study and follow rules. But at what cost? And I don’t mean the exorbitant tuition such schools charge.
I used the late 1960s, the height of the Vietnam War era and the polarized nation as the catalyst, though the story addresses a number of issues still prevalent in high schools and boarding schools today, themes like bullying, hazing and obedience versus truth. By writing in first person, present tense, the first time I tried this point of view/tense combination, I created more immediacy, allowing the reader to feel and experience along with Andy.
I’m lucky my husband gave me the procedural insight of what happened behind the walls of an all boys’ military school. Being female I’d have no chance to ever know or understand the degree of structure, control and authority exhibited by faculty and upper classmen. Nor would I have learned what anxiety and angst this environment created.
To celebrate the 2nd edition, A DIFFERENT TRUTH will be FREE on Amazon on July 14 and 15.