Lynn Slaughter on her new YA novel, Deadly Setup

"I recall how painful and frustrating it was to feel dismissed and discounted."

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This post was written by Lynn Slaughter, author of Deadly Setup.

I’m super excited about the July 5 release of my YA novel, Deadly Setup. When readers ask me what it’s about, I usually explain it’s about Samantha (Sam), a teenager who goes on trial for the murder of her heiress mother’s fiancé. With the help of her boyfriend’s dad, an ex-homicide cop, she fights to prove her innocence.

All of that is true, but Sam’s problems go way beyond getting accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She lives with a mom who’s never going to win an award for “parent of the year.” And her dying father put Sam in an impossible position when he asked his then-twelve-year-old daughter to “take care of your mother for me.” This is an impossible task for Sam who’s trying to grow up and is not ready to be anybody’s parent. Besides, her mom has never been interested in what Sam has to say. And when Sam gets accused of murder, her mom is unable or unwilling to demonstrate that she believes in her daughter and is on her side. Each time Sam professes her innocence, her mother says things like, “I want to believe you. I really do. And I love you, no matter what you’ve done.” Translation: “I don’t believe you, and I know you did it.”

Are there really parents like Sam’s mom? Of course. Check out the self-help section of any bookstore, and chances are you’ll find books about “recovering from toxic parents.”

My own personal inspiration for the character of Sam’s mom comes both from my own childhood and from counseling my teenage students. I grew up with a single parent dad who was extremely well-intentioned but was quite sure he knew what was best for his daughters and wasn’t terribly interested in our feelings or opinions. I recall how painful and frustrating it was to feel dismissed and discounted. And in counseling my students, I’ve found that few things hurt more than parents uninterested in listening to their teens or supporting their hopes and dreams. It is simply not true that teenagers only care about what their peers think. Parents continue to matter big time.

What makes it so complicated is that young people love and care about their parents, including the toxic ones, even as they typically look for ways to escape from the hurt, as Sam does. I loved immersing myself in her struggles and her world. I hope you will, too!

Get your copy of Deadly Setup by Lynn Slaughter here.

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