At the fifth grade honors program, three eleven-year-old boys are captivated by a brilliant little red-haired girl named Jeana Russell as she recites the poem she wrote. They know Jeana is special, and each boy secretly vows to win her heart. As these four unconventional teenagers grow up together on the Alabama Gulf Coast in the late 1970s, they become bound to each other in relationships as volatile as they are complex.
Jeana is an unpretentious heroine who refuses to be anyone but herself: a smart girl who thinks she'll never find a boy like the men in the books she loves to read. But when Mickey moves back to Alabama from Washington after the death of his father, Jeana is baffled by her instant attraction to this three-sport athlete with the bluest eyes she's ever seen. When she discovers he is also honest, dedicated, and a whiz at math, she realizes she's guilty of stereotyping--something she despises. As she and Mickey grow closer, Jeana believes she's finally found the hero of her dreams.
Wade Strickland is Jeana's childhood friend and the first boy she ever kissed, but something happens over the summer between fifth and sixth grades, and Wade breaks Jeana's heart with a cruel remark. He becomes an arrogant jerk and is the reigning football phenom until Mickey arrives, setting them on a path to violence from their first encounter. Billy Joe DuBose is Jeana's wise-cracking best friend who bonds with Mickey instantly because of their shared dislike for Wade. Jeana doesn't know how Billy Joe really feels about her, but his love for her is clear to everyone else.
How will the lives of these four teenagers be changed on their journey to adulthood, and which boy will succeed in winning Jeana's heart?
A savory Southern blend of love, friendship, rivalry, and raging hormones, served up on a richly satisfying nostalgic setting, True Blue Forever is comfort food for the soul. This emotional journey back to the days of first loves and first kisses, tough choices and temptations makes the reader believe fairy tale love is truly possible and that the most romantic heroes can be found where you'd least expect them, even in your own hometown.
The little red-haired girl stood at the podium and looked out at the teachers, parents and her classmates assembled in the cafeteria of Peter Joe Hamilton Elementary for the fifth grade honors program. She took a deep breath and smiled before she began speaking.
“If You Should Fall
by Jeana Russell
“Never give up on your goals
No matter how hard or how small
It’s not as impossible as it seems
Get up if you should fall
“Always be the best you can be
Don’t be afraid to give it your all
Even when failure is all you can see
Get up if you should fall
“No one can take away your dreams
Stand up proud, brave, and tall
No one can make you fail except you
Get up if you should fall
“We have inside us the will to win
God gives it to us all
Use your gifts to make Him proud
And He’ll never let you fall.”
Three of Jeana’s listeners were captivated by the girl who recited with such presence the words she had written. Eleven-year-old boys are notorious for hating girls, and yet three of them sat on metal folding chairs in the stuffy, overcrowded room permeated with the smell of corn dogs they would be served later for lunch and felt their hearts quicken at the luminescence of Jeana’s smile. They knew this girl was special, and each of them fell in love with her. Eleven-year-old love that could be felt but not admitted. Not yet, anyway.
And the three boys shared a thought: Someday, she’ll be my girl.
He clasped his hands at the small of her back and pulled her closer, and she realized his heart was beating as fast as her own. He leaned slowly toward her, and she watched the blue brilliance of his eyes gradually disappear under his eyelids. When his lips touched hers and she tasted the sublime sweetness of his mouth, she wondered how she had ever lived without his kiss, and how she would survive when he let her go.
She’d never felt so aware of every cell in her body as she did while in Mickey’s arms, and she marveled at how right it felt to be there, as if she had just come home from a long journey. She was where she belonged, and she never wanted to leave. The hero from her fantasies had a face at last, and she knew she would see it in her dreams for the rest of her life.
When their lips parted, he held her face in his hands. “Tell me you’re mine, Jeana.”
“I’ve always been yours, Mickey. I just didn’t know it until now.”
He wrapped his arms around her tightly. “I knew we were meant for each other.”
“I can’t breathe...”
Professional Reviews From Sara Weis (www.sarasays.com)
True Blue Forever has it all: romance, adventure, humor, jealousy, and heart-warming moments. It is the story of a smart young Jeana Russell and her unassuming effect on three teenage boys. "One of the boys becomes Jeana's best friend, one breaks her heart, and one becomes the love of her life." They all have such strong intense feelings for Jeana that it made me wonder if they could be true. However, the reader is reminded that this is high school, where love is young and innocent, feelings are uninhibited with the zest of believing that you can do anything. We witness the roles these three boys have in Jeana's life, and how they help her grow up and make some difficult adult decisions. Joyce Sterling Scarbrough does an amazing job with character development. As the story ended, I found myself wanting to be able to continue on with Jeana, Mickey, and Billy Joe. They all had their endearing qualities that were adequately portrayed in True Blue Forever. This book will definitely take you back in time and stir up some of your own memories. Once you get started reading this book, it is extremely difficult to put down until the end is reached.
WOW! This is wonderful I haven't read anything like this since . . . since . . . well, ever. It's inspiring and touching.
Reviewed by Tom Elkins (Reader)
Joyce Scarbrough knows all the emotional buttons to push. Reading her fast-moving tale of four teens working their ways through those difficult years, I laughed and wept. I pulled for the protagonists and railed at the villains. And I was thoroughly entertained. It even has a happy ending.
Of course, the characters are too good to be true. As a father of four who went through their teens at precisely the same time, I found myself comparing Jeanna and Mickey to Skip, Wendy, Jeff and Marty, all of whom are now productive and responsible adults in their 40’s. But back then their language was vile, they all experimented with drugs and took GED tests to get out of high school early, and protested for or against whatever the cause celebre of the day was.
So True Blue Forever is fiction, which is precisely what the author claims it to be. Jeanna and Mickey are more virtuous than real life; Billy Joe funnier; Wade meaner, although through an interesting twist he undergoes a transformation before the story ends.
Read True Blue Forever for pleasure. I would rate it suitable for anybody over the age of 12, considering the times we live in.
Mrs. Scarbrough has a wonderful story-telling skill that is evident from the first page of this delightful little gem, True Blue Forever. The characters are three-dimensional, completely believable...and I know I will miss them once the book is complete.
Mrs. Scarbrough has a wonderful grasp on the structure of dialogue between her characters...and one forgets, while reading...that he is, in fact, reading...one of the great true tests of a good writer...and the character development is as good as I've seen from any author...even the most well known in our pop culture.
The many emotional and psychological layers explored in the lives of her characters and in the relationships they share add so much depth to this story...and render every relationship in this book full of life and color. Wade is reprehensible...we know that...but Wade has a history with Jeana...one that transcends a flippant tossing him off as a thug or a jerk...we care about Wade...even in his imperfection. And Mrs. Scarborough's natural ability to weave such a spectacular and multi-layered story is to blame. It's her fault. :)
Great novel, Mrs. Scarbrough, and I imagine you will have much success with your writing.
"Wesley Harris and the Rotten Patterson Kids"
Reviewed by Annalee Collier (Reader)
Tired of bills, traffic, telemarketers, and--my biggest pet peeve--those dad-blasted blister packs that require The Jaws of Life for opening and always end up sticking me under a fingernail? Well, forget about it all for a few hours and read True Blue Forever. You'll find yourself in a world of first loves and first kisses, surrounded by blue-eyed hunks, cool muscle cars, moonlit nights on Gulf Coast beaches, and so much 70's music and culture it'll have you sporting a 'fro and searching for that Heatwave 8-track so you can listen to "Always and Forever" while you read.
Whether you're in high school now or it's a distant memory, and regardless of whether you loved it or hated it, you'll love meeting Jeana, Mickey, Wade, and Billy Joe: four atypical teens who will each win your heart in their own way. They deal with plenty of teenage angst, just none of the banalities featured in so many books--like the dreaded zit on picture day and having two dates for the prom. These are teens who make mistakes and are subject to raging hormones like everyone else, but they're smart enough to look at the big picture and take responsibility for the choices they make. You'll laugh and cry with them, seethe and long to soothe them, and when you get to the end of the book, you'll want to go back and read it again so you can visit with them a little longer.
True Blue Forever is more than just a novel: It's an introduction for readers to four new lifelong friends.
True Blue Forever is the tale of Jeana and the three men who loved her. Billy Joe the fun loving prankster, Wade the man we each have probably loved for looking so perfect, and Mickey the one beautiful inside and out. A beautifully woven story that will capture your heart, mind, and soul and even have you laughing out loud! The plot is thick with true to life characters that I found myself cheering for. I laughed at times, cried at others, and ultimately cheered throughout the entire book, it will effect you that deeply! The characters are truly unforgettable and written with such intensity that you will feel like you’ve meet them and in fact they will feel like your very best friends. True Blue Forever is a must read for anyone who carries love in their heart. This novel is a winner from beginning to end and won’t let you down with its happy yet surprisingly original ending that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile that will make you unable to put it down! Joyce Scarbrough is sure to go far with her endlessly romantic story of true love one that is True Blue Forever.
Reviewed by ME Taylor (Reader)
True Blue Forever is an excellent read. The characters transport you back in time to your own High School days. The fast moving pace keeps you riveted as you turn each page. Your soul is touched by each one of the four High School characters leaving you rooting for each. The author makes the story of young love poignant and believable while conveying each characters nuance. Joyce Sterling Scarbrough is truly a gifted writer and I can’t wait to read her next novel.
Emotionally charged nostalgia that touches the heart. With characters that come alive through their everyday prejudice, friendship, love and hate, "True Blue Forever" is a delightful read. The author does a professional job of bringing out the vanity and ego in the various characters making them completely believable. Definitely not your average Romance novel, puppy love is not just for children. As the title implies, love can be a lasting and beautiful thing.
Ms. Scarbrough has written a book that will capture your heart as well as your interest.
Characters are interesting, thoughtfully drawn and easy to like.
Dialogue is extremely well written, the plot flows smoothly, editing is well done and there are no loose ends.
The story line, intriguing at the very first and even more intriguing as it goes along makes the book hard to put down for either gender.
Of special note are the well paced last chapters which are quite stunning and not at all what I expected.
Sometimes, a coming of age book like this one is perceived by many as a book that follows a rather standard plot, but you’ll find this book to be considerably different.
Ms. Scarbrough - at least it seems to me - knows of what she speaks.
I am looking forward to her next book.
Reviewed by Dana George
The love that is between Jeana and Mickey just melts my heart. We women dream about that kind of dedication from our spouse. I cried so near the end and had to stop to let my eyes clear up before continuing. My
husband waited patiently for me to finish the book before I cooked him dinner for
It was neat to be able to picture the characters at each of the places in
Mobile County. Thanks for bringing this close to home. There are many lessons in this book - I hope many teenagers see themselves in your writings.
Congratulations on your first printed book! Good job!
Reviewed by Lisa Young (Reader)
True Blue Forever juggles the personalities and lives of four unique individuals growing up together (and sometimes apart) in the 70's. As I read, I was taken on a journey back to my own childhood as I grew up again with Jeana's challenges and decisions. A fast, smooth read.
Reviewed by Lisa Young (Reader)
From the prologue and the blurb, I was uncertain about the book being one I'd enjoy. However, I tried out the first chapter preview, and found it to be a very good read...will have to try and pick up a copy...
Reviewed by Darrell J. Durggin
As I read the first chapter, I was wisked back to those high school days of fun and excitement! I can't wait to read the entire book! Excellent work Joyce!
Reviewed by Djuna McDuffie-Jackson
I think chapter one is great! It is so vividly wirtten. As I read it I felt like I was back in the halls of Vigor and reliving Mrs. Gates and Mrs. Barnes English classes. Keep the good work up Joyce!
Reviewed by Donnie Mills
I am so proud of Joyce..we grew up in this time period around each other and I always knew that she would reach her goals one day...BRAVO Joyce, BRAVO!!!!
Reviewed by Tim Johnson (Reader)
Superbly imagined...poetically written...it'll bring back those memories of school life indefinitely. Way to go Joyce, way to go!
Author of Twisted Oak: Eyes of Discernment
Reviewed by Gail Bellenger (Reader)
Good storyline and dialogue. I loved it. Very well put together story and leaves the reader wanting more. Takes the reader back to the teen years with wonderful imagery.
Reviewed by Doris Arau
What a wonderful book, it made you laugh, cry. Once you start reading it you can't put it down. Great work Ms Scarbrough!!
True Blue Forever is a powerful story of adolescent love that is compelling and heart-breaking at times. This novel is well-written and so believeable, you never want the story to end. If you enjoy five star novels that grab you from the beginning and fail to let go of you long after the book has ended, then True Blue Forever is a must read. Bravo, Joyce!
The sweetness and innocence of the excerpt pulls you in but doesn't overpower. You can tell that things will get serious, but that somehow the sweetness will remain...Can't wait to read all of True Blue Forever!
Reviewed by Martin Edwardes
There is a tendency, when writing the poems of children in fiction, to write an adult poem and dumb it down. This is a poem by an 11-year-old, and certainly good enough for an honours programme. It is convincing, and that is what best fiction should be.
I really enjoyed the preview. What a well written, captivating story. It immediately took me back to high school (for better or worse). The characters and scenes are very well drawn and bring the whole thing to life. Great job!
A well-written story that chronicles the essence of youth, love, and life in the 70's. The author does a great job painting vivid scenes that glow within your mind as you read. A great book for readers of all ages!
Reviewed by Susan Weekley (Reader)
A beautifully written novel for all ages. Ms. Scarbrough captures the spirit and energy of youth in the seventies. Her characters are not only well developed they come alive for the reader. You will laugh and cry over this love story!