Author: Pavarti K Tyler
Published: July 2013
Word Count: 65,000
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming of Age
Content Warning: Adult themes and sexual content
Age Recommendation: 15+
~ Synopsis ~Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.
Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.
When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.
Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.
Outside, the sun bore down. I’d hoped being outside would make it easier to breathe, but as we made our way to his truck, the heat sucked all the remaining energy out of me. Sweat beaded on my back where Troy’s arm rested. June had never been this hot before.
I inhaled, trying to fill my lungs, but the faint scent of Langston’s fire still lingered in the air. He’d died—killed himself over nothing more than throwing a party. What did Langston know about trouble? What gave him the right to just die while I was stuck here, forced to live, fighting for each breath?
An oily residue covered every surface in town, due to the drifting of particles from the fire—something about the oil floating away with the ash, spreading itself through town. I liked that idea—letting yourself disintegrate into pieces, only to suffocate everything with your presence.
Troy opened the passenger side door for me, and even leaned in to buckle my seatbelt. I laughed, but no sound came out. It must have just been in my head, but my body shook nonetheless.
Someone had seen me at the hotel. Everyone knew.
Troy started the car and pulled out of the parking lot without saying a word. His hand finally settled on my thigh.
This was something I’d dreamed about for months—maybe even my entire life—but I couldn’t feel it. My nerve endings had all burned away with the realization that there was nothing special about me at all. Not for Mr. Harris. Not for Troy. Not for my parents.
Everyone had someone or something else that was more important.
I leaned against the window, the heat from the sun beating down on my head, my dark hair absorbing it and passing it onto my brain. Maybe if I let it boil in my skull, I wouldn’t have to feel like this anymore.
I longed for the cold, for winter, for a time before Troy came, when it was just Morgan and me and nothing else mattered. I longed for anything but this slow, suffocating death.
Troy’s thumb beat out a silent rhythm on my leg.
As we pulled into my neighborhood, I realized my day could always get worse.
“Shit,” Troy muttered, stopping his truck in the middle of the road. My father’s car sat in the driveway. “What do you want to do?”
I shook my head, unable to make words. I couldn’t go home or deal with him. The last time he’d been home, he’d punched Troy. Part of me believed he’d never come back, and that the end had finally come. But there he was sitting in my house, on the couch, drinking beer and waiting for me or Ma to come home.
“I can’t….” The words tumbled out and I slammed my hand over my mouth, terrified of what might follow. Instead, I continued to shake my head, letting the momentum carry me away until my entire torso swayed back and forth, slamming against the door.
“Shit. Okay, um, let’s… we can go to my place, but Shauna’s there with the kids and—” He glanced at me, brows pulled together.
I saw a glimpse of what he’d look like when he got older, with a furrowed brow and lips turned down—someday when worry and work and stress ate away at his beauty.
Review by Renee
White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler is a deep, heavy book. It took a lot out of me and will stay with me forever. It is one of those books that is completely gut wrenching. It pulls every emotion from you, and tears out your heart! I didn't just cry, I ugly cried! Tyler takes you such an emotional ride right along with Chelle.
Tyler's character's have so many layers, but her main character Chelle gets the shining star. Chelle is a 13 year old girl with issues to say the very least. She isn't like other 13 year old girls, she can't allow herself to be that free to feel. Chelle was forced to grow up way too fast. My heart went out to her, her self image really bothered at first. Until her story evolved, I just couldn't understand anyone in those early teen years that down on themselves. Then as Tyler starts to unravel Chelle complicated life, you truly see why and how anyone in her situation would be the same way, if not even worst. Chelle seeks attention anywhere she can find it.. (Isn't this the case in a lot of our young women these days? This book gave me the desire to do something to encourage our young teenage girls. Give them confidence. I think I'm going to have to research on a way to help.)
Not everyone out there in our world gets tucked in at night, kissed on the check, and mom tells them sweet dreams. It's just a hard fact that in a lot of cases that is just a fairytale to kids, boys or girls. Tyler does a splendid job of letting us see the ugly side of things. Not everything out there (in real life) is all rich guys, fast cars and roses, so why should books be any different. This is more true life than we want to admit. Just because it isn't happening in your own family doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Tyler should be applauded, she had the guts to write about something out of the norm. Not what's popular right now in books. This isn't what the masses are saying oooh I gotta read! But let me tell you my friend right now, this is a book you should read. Tyler in my opinion deserves an award! You did an awesome job Pavarti Tyler, this book should be on EVERYONE'S TBR list!
I give White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler 5 Platypires
Bama Love! Roll Tide!! and Keep Reading Y'all
Review by Keagan Rae
This is a very very hard book to review.
First, I really think there should be a trigger warning, or at the very least a content warning. This is not an easy read due to the nature of what is happening to Chelle-self harm, pedophila, and abuse. You need to be mentally prepared to read this book.
With that said, it's not an enjoyable read. It's not fun to read about the horrors Chelle is going through. Yet, it's so amazingly written that I could barely put it down.
It's hard to find the right words for this book. It's overwhelming and gut-wrenching, and very real feeling. This could actually be happening to someone and that thought alone is really heartbreaking.
5/5 heartbreaking platypires from me.
Review by Valesha
I cannot actually say I enjoyed this book. In fact, I can truthfully say that I did not like it at all. What this poor child went through was heartbreaking; the emotional equivalent to a major disaster - like an earthquake. That said, it is EXTREMELY well-written and paints a vivid (too vivid) picture of the life of Chelle, a 13 (then 14) year old girl forced to endure a painful existence that no child should ever have to know about - much less live through. Some of it was self-inflicted, and make no mistake: Chelle's self-image was heartbreakingly poor. The rest was outside her control, but no less horrendous. I spent much of the book wishing I could just grab her from the pages and save her from her situation myself. The raw emotion expressed in the book is just... incredible. If you are looking for a dark and gritty read about the darker side of life, and enjoy many controversial or taboo topics, then this book is for you. I, however, enjoy reading as an escape from the worst parts of reality and found that this book is going to require me to find a therapist to put my broken psyche back together again.
I rate this book 4 platypires. I had a hard time deciding. As I said, it was well-written and was a smooth read, but due to the content I could not bring myself to enjoy it. Also, I really, really, really, absolutely, positively, REALLY, think this book needs to have a content warning in the synopsis. The topics covered are tough, gritty, and could serve as triggers for some people. I would have rated it a 3 based on my enjoyment of this story, BUT the technical merits gained it an extra platypire back.
Review by J. Hooligan
First of all, it was hard for me to put into words what I thought of this book. I can normally come up with my thoughts within an hour after finishing the book. I finished it 36 hours ago, and it's still difficult. This is not as easy book to read. I had to shut it many times. One page took me two hours to read. Not because it is bad, because it is an exceptional book. It was the content. There are things in this book that I wish I was warned about before starting. I figured it out pretty quickly - puked within the first 10% of the story. And again a little more than halfway into it.
I was drawn to the main character, Chelle, for a number of reasons. Not all of which I feel comfortable listing in a public review. She felt so real, and my heart ached for her as I read this story. I have seen similar things happen, and that is one big reason why I applaud this book.
Abuse is real. It happens every day, all over the world. Whether it is bullying, neglect, sexual, or otherwise - it is happening everywhere around you. And to all sorts of people. Closing your eyes and ignoring it won't make it go away. White Chalk took things many people are overlooking, and showed the consequences.
I do highly recommend this book, but with a warning. The content it rough and it will hurt.
About the Author
Award-winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K. Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry for several international law firms.
She now lives with her husband, two daughters, and two terrible dogs. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity, and by penning her next novel.
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