CHINO VALLY, Arizona – “It was not my intention to write a novel about sexual abuse,” according to Amazon author Gene Twaronite. “Each story has a life all its own, and sometimes you just have to follow it to whatever places it takes you—even if those places make you uncomfortable. But my novel is not just about sexual abuse. It’s also about how we confront the problem of evil and the hells we create inside ourselves.”
My Vacation in Hell is a darkly humorous young adult fantasy and satire. Set in the mid-1960s, it is narrated by a 15-year-old writer named John Boggle. A troubled nerdy misfit and a frequent flyer of his imagination, John is inspired by a book report reading of Dante Alighieri’s the Inferno. In the eternity of the five minutes before summer vacation, he embarks on a pilgrimage based upon his own free-wheeling interpretation of the work.
Following Dante’s lead, John populates his hell with all the people who have wronged him over the years, inventing deliciously cruel punishments for each of them in his teenage version of cosmic retribution. Aided by his best friend Virgil, a trusty guide in this shared imagination, John also struggles to come to terms with the world’s many evils. And as he descends further into this realm, he constructs his own hierarchy of evildoers, assigning them to the levels he believes they deserve.
But it is the evil perpetrated upon John, a victim of sexual abuse, which poses the most difficult challenge. The deeper he goes, the more he encounters obstacles, some of whom in the guise of colorful demon characters try their best to keep him there. But the worst obstacle of all is his own self-image, forged out of guilt and shame. He will not leave this hell of his own making, Virgil tells him, until he learns how to deal with the abuse inflicted upon him and finds the true center of his being. Though disturbing at times due to its mature theme, My Vacation in Hell delivers a message of hope with a large dose of humor.
The author first introduced the theme of sexual abuse in his previous novel The Family That Wasn’t—the prequel to My Vacation in Hell. In his words: “I felt I needed to help my character John resolve his issues. So I tried to imagine as best I could the horror experienced by a sexual abuse victim and how he might deal with it. It is my hope that in some small way my novel helps to address the needs of all who seek to find their own way out of hell.”
Gene Twaronite is an Arizona author whose fiction has been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies, including Avatar Review, Fast Forward Press, Highlights for Children, Heinemann, and Read (Weekly Reader). He offers interactive PowerPoint writing programs, based on his two novels, free of charge to any school or library in Arizona.
The book is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book and paperback as well as a Barnes and Noble Nook e-book. Find out more about the book at the author’s web site: http://www.myvacationinhell.com.
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