Thirteen-year-old Oksana lives on the streets of Russia with her pregnant mama and abusive aunt—both prostitutes. When Mama swells into labor, Oksana makes a decision to save herself from abandonment, a decision that torments her forever. When her plan fails and her aunt dumps her in an orphanage, she never has the chance to say goodbye to her mama or tell her the secret that haunts her.
Scattered Links is a story of family and the consequences that come from never learning how to love, of a girl’s inability to bond with her adopted family and the frustrations that follow.
How can a child understand the mechanics of forming a healthy relationship when she never had a mother who answered her cries, held her when she was frightened, fed her when she was hungry, or loved her unconditionally?
Only when the child meets a rescued abused horse, and recognizes the pain in his eyes, does she begin to trust again.
Scattered Links, (initially titled Love is Just a Word), was the winner of the 2013 Aspiring Writers Competition, sponsored by Write on Con and The Reading Room. Scattered Links was intended to show a glimpse into the life of a child with RAD, reactive attachment disorder, so prevalent in children who never had unconditional love in infancy.
This novel was inspired by Michelle’s journey to Russia to adopt her orphan daughter. Upon seeing the neglect of orphanage children and learning of the effects of RAD in post-institutionalized children, Michelle researched this disorder, committed to giving her daughter the best chance at a healthy life. Sadly, many parents can’t cope with the behavior from kids with RAD and re-home their children like pets.
Scattered Links Excerpt
Stealing is common here. It’s survival.
The vendors know this and are suspicious of everyone, including me, even though I’m only thirteen. Rows of displayed goods on tables line the dusty streets between tall run-down buildings, their walls swirled with fat graffiti. Mama’s sister, Aunt Ludmila, and I are careful not to go to the same vendor twice and have learned to playact.
Today, a black crow caws overhead like he’s mocking me. He perches on a shattered streetlamp and watches with his beady eyes. It’s like he knows what I’m about to do. Like he’s tattling to the vendor, daring me to get caught. I don’t want to steal, but I must.
The cool shadows give me a reason to wear my coat with the inside pocket. A harsh breeze causes dirt tornadoes at the side of the road, filling my nostrils and making me thirsty. The wind carries the smell of the subway up through the traffic.
Aunt Ludmila nods toward the fruit stand and distracts the lady vendor who has plump peaches on her table. I can almost taste their sweetness and feel the juice dribble down my chin. I reach for two, fit them in the palm of my hand, and curl them toward my pocket.
“Hey, girl!” a man shouts.
The peaches tumble from my grasp and roll into the dirt. The gray-haired man steps toward me from the back of the stand. “You can’t take those without paying for them.” The crow cries again, laughing at me. I want to throw a stone at him.
Aunt Ludmila slaps me across the face, knocking my head back. My flaxen hair spills out of my hood. “What are you doing, child? Apologize to these nice people.”
Michelle grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting—without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which might come in handy with book reviews.
Michelle blogs at Random Writing Rants where she teaches and encourages writers how to get published.
Blog link: http://www.randomwritingrants.com
Random Writing Rants
Teaching adults and teens how to get published
Website link: http://www.mweidenbenner.com
Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/randomwritingrants
Twitter link: @MWeidenbenner1
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7171873.M_Weidenbenner
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