Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Ticket by Debra Jeter - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Ticket
Firefly Southern Fiction (May 20, 2015)
Debra Jeter


A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, "Recovery," won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book "Pshaw, It's Me Grandson": Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of her grandmother, Effie Shultz McClain (1900 to 1985).


Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school but, she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit. The only person who understands Tray's need for acceptance is her grandmother, but when Tray wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.

My Thoughts:

We’re fighters….Whether we’re making crops or sales or dress designs; we’re made of the same stuff.  It’s a tough fiber, and it can withstand all the things that weigh us down and make us nearly give up.”  (p. 192)

Tough is a good word to describe the things that Tray Dunaway must face in Debra Coleman Jeter’s novel The Ticket.  At first, I thought this was a young adult novel dealing with typical young adult problems.  Fourteen is a tough age!  Then I realize that Tray’s family is dealing with a lot more than the typical dysfunction of family life.  When the lottery ticket comes into the picture, everything seems to be magnified ten-fold!

The lottery win is dealt with in a totally unexpected way, and Tray must work out her own identity as she is almost simultaneously embraced and rejected by peers with dollar signs in their eyes.  They she deals with the underbelly of her best friend’s family while also dealing with one of the most horrific violations perpetrated by an adult onto a child.  This novel throws some very unexpected and heavy blows to the reader’s heart and mind!

Jeter deals with many universal scenarios that all young people face – body image, crushes, friendships - but she kicks up the reality a notch and makes the reader gasp at the depth of strength and love that can exist in a family – side by side with some pretty brutal circumstances. 

This is a well-written, thought-provoking read.  The tender poignancy at the end…well, just have your tissue ready!  

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ticket, go HERE.

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