The Novel

Thirteen-year-old Virginia has never seen a dead body before.  That is, not until she and her best friend Amelia are the only witnesses to the death of their friend Jeremiah.  Terrified of being blamed for the accident, Amelia convinces Virginia that they should hide Jeremiah’s body and return to their lives as though nothing happened.

 

Martin Levine. The Waste Land, 1974. Etching and aquatint.

Lies don’t come easy to Virginia, but she learns.  She longs to talk to someone about Jeremiah, but Amelia keeps a close watch on her, threatening to pin Jeremiah’s death on Virginia if she tells anyone what she knows.  And there’s a persistent voice in the back of Virginia’s head, insisting that if she ignores the truth about Jeremiah long enough, her life will go back to normal.

 

When Jonah, the dead boy’s older brother, calls Virginia to talk about Jeremiah’s disappearance, she can’t resist.  She needs someone to talk to and Amelia’s gone off the deep end.  Virginia doesn’t tell Jonah her secret, but through their friendship, she does see the damage her lies inflict.  Jonah’s family is collapsing under the strain of Jeremiah’s disappearance.  He loses sleep worrying about what happened to the little brother he was supposed to protect. Virginia can’t help wondering if the truth would help her new friend or drive him further into depression.

 

Virginia’s lies grow more desperate as suspicions surrounding the girls stack up.  She worries that the end may be near, but she doesn’t know how to prepare for it.  Will she find the courage to tell the truth?  Or will Jeremiah’s death remain a secret forever?

Wasteland, 91,000 words, is my first novel.