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Here is what Christina Pearson, founding director of the Trichotillomania Learning Center, said about SYMMETRY:
"Joyce Sterling Scarbrough’s SYMMETRY is a wonderful book! Both evocative and touching in its depiction of a difficult period in a marriage, it also conveys a sense of transformation and discovery as the main character, Jess, discovers there is real help for a hair-pulling disorder she has. The story is one of healing, in both an interpersonal relationship and in living with trichotillomania, an often chronic and potentially debilitating compulsive behavior. Jess is a hero of mine!"
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When Jessica Cassady's husband attends a sportswriters' convention and she calls his hotel room in the middle of the night, another woman answers the phone. Lee swears things aren't what they seem, but Jess still kicks him out. While she's deciding whether or not to forgive him, she realizes her hair pulling is more than just a nervous habit and finds out she has a condition called trichotillomania. As if that's not enough to deal with, her domineering mother shows up for a surprise visit!
While Lee works to win Jess back, things grow even more complicated when she runs into Noah Hamilton, a sweet, unassuming history teacher from her past. Jess's interest in Noah makes her think that maybe--as her best friend Deb loves to tell her--she needs to forego the beefcake brigade and give the sensitive type a try, but it also makes Lee realize just how much he's lost in losing his wife. Sparks fly as these two polar opposites on the testosterone scale compete for Jess's affection.
Will Jess be able to find her emotional center, decide which man is right for her and finally achieve the symmetry she craves in every aspect of her life?
NOTE FROM AUTHOR: Like the heroine in this book, I have trichotillomania (TTM), which means compulsive hair pulling. Contrary to what you might have heard about it--if you've heard about it at all--I don't consider it a mental illness. It's a physical condition caused by a sensory imbalance in the nervous system, and approximately 8 million people in the U.S. and 40 million worldwide have it.
Rather than writing a non-fiction book about my own experiences with TTM, I decided to give it to Jess and put her in a book of humorous women's fiction--one I like to call chick lit for women who own more books than shoes. I did this because I'm not trying to educate anyone about TTM. There are already many wonderful resource books out there to do that. I wanted to raise awareness of TTM in the general public, and I also wanted to present a character who is a positive role model for the millions of people suffering alone, some of whom don't even know that what they do has a name.
Jess always woke a second before she could complete the castration. Curses, foiled again.
She blinked at the red numbers projected onto her ceiling by the clock on her night stand--4:23 a.m. Plenty of time to go back to sleep and finish the job, but she knew it was useless. She'd only end up dreaming about giving birth to a canned ham or grocery shopping in her pajamas, and Lee's manhood would escape the knife again.
She snuggled against the body pillow occupying his place beside her in bed and got an indignant rowl from the Siamese cat curled up there. Jess smiled at the thought of what Lee would say about letting Ming sleep with her and thought maybe she'd tell him he'd been replaced by his feline nemesis when she saw him at the meeting later that morning.
She fell asleep reminding herself how much better off she was without her two-timing, cat-hating, conceited jerk of a husband, and she dreamed he made love to her on the conference table at work, castration the furthest thing from her mind.
God, she hated him.
Lisa Haselton Reviews
Author Joyce Scarbrough knows how to bring out the details of relationships. She's able to show the mixed emotions and confusing feelings people experience when in a relationship. She finds a nice balance between the good and the bad, the pros and cons, as it were, when a person is deciding whether the stay or leave. By including a real affliction, trichotillomania, she's expanding her readers' horizons by sharing a true-to-her experience. The book is fiction, but the facts about TTM are real. Scarbrough uses TTM as conflict in the story, and it works well. Too much detail could cause readers to close the book, but her writing style keeps the conflicts and positive points, symmetrical.
I enjoyed Symmetry for the writing. The characters pulled me right in and kept me engaged. I felt for Jessica and her turmoil. Learning about TTM, which I had no knowledge of before opening the book, was a bonus. It's a recommended read for those interested in romance, those who are somehow touched by trichotillomania, and those who simply enjoy a well-told story.
Midwest Book Reviews--Laurel Johnson
I know before reading even one page of Joyce Scarbrough's novels that they will be well-written, absorbing, and feature fascinating characters. To my list of descriptive terms for her latest book I can add "helpful and educational." In addition to her usual fine fiction, this time she shines a sensitive light on trichotillomania, a mental condition that is not as rare as readers might think.
Jessica Cassady is married to a delicious male animal. Lee Cassady has it all - rugged good looks, a delightful sense of humor, a successful career, and the sort of raw sensuality Jess finds irresistible. Recently, however, cracks have developed in Lee's glorious persona. Jess is tired of being the head groupie in his Road to Glory tour. She's tired of Lee's ceaseless drive to climb the ladder of success as a sports journalist, tired of what she sees as his total self-involvement, tired of playing second fiddle to his whims. All her resentments come to an explosive head when she calls Lee's hotel room and a drowsy woman answers the phone. Jess doesn't want to hear Lee's explanation. By the time he gets home from the conference, she's moved all his clothes out of the house and filed for divorce.
Jess is a strong-willed woman, but the shock of thinking Lee was unfaithful brings an increase in her hair pulling. She researches trichotillomania on the internet and embarks on a proven self-improvement plan. Jess pampers herself, renews an acquaintance with a man from her past, and struggles to ignore Lee's attempts at reconciliation. "Symmetry" has always been an important framework of Jess's life, but can she find any sort of balance without Lee? The outcome depends on Lee. Does he have a greater understanding of her needs than Jess thinks? And does she have some misconceptions of her own to work through? A suicidal young girl and Jess's domineering mother bring unexpected enlightenment.
Joyce Scarbrough has written this story of a troubled woman and a crumbling marriage with sensitivity and grace. It's a helpful, hopeful, and ultimately uplifting novel. Highly recommended to mature adolescents and adult readers.
Reviews for "Symmetry"
|Reviewed by Sylvia Hamilton
|Symmetry is one of the most compelling books I've ever read. The plot, the theme, the wording and Joyce's voice are substantiated by her excellent writing and gifted voice. The characters are so real you'll swear they're you nextdoor neighbors or maybe even kin. Jess and Lee's relationship starts out sad and their conflict rages. Sadder still is Jess's devestating desease, Trichotillomania and how she deals with it. To define this story simply as a romance would be a grave mistake. It offers much more. Symmetry is an all around, down to earth, entertaining story. I'm here to tell you, you'd ' be foolish to miss this one. I guarantee it will stimulate your interest to the very end. Oh yes, the ending...when Jess and...well, you'll just have to read the outcome for yourself.
S.K. Hamilton - Author of
The Kahills of Willow Walk
For the Love of Willow Walk
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Joyce Sterling Scarbrough