by Nancy J. Hedin
Release Date: May 8, 2017
Lorraine Tyler is the only queer person in Bend, Minnesota. Or at least that’s what it feels like when the local church preaches so sternly against homosexuality. Which is why she’s fighting so hard to win the McGerber scholarship—her ticket out of Bend—even though her biggest competition is her twin sister, Becky. And even though she’s got no real hope—not with the scholarship’s morality clause and that one time she kissed the preacher’s daughter.
Everything changes when a new girl comes to town. Charity is mysterious, passionate, and—to Lorraine’s delighted surprise—queer too. Now Lorraine may have a chance at freedom and real love.
But then Becky disappears, and Lorraine uncovers an old, painful secret that could tear the family apart. They need each other more than ever now, and somehow it’s Lorraine—the sinner, the black sheep—who holds the power to bring them together. But only if she herself can learn to bend.
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An Excerpt from Bend
It was early morning on a Saturday, and my momma was waking up God. Since the night before, when Momma answered a phone call, she had been beseeching God as if she had him on retainer like a lawyer or on a leash like a dangerous dog.
I stayed in my room. I would have dressed in camouflage or armor if I had any. I didn’t.
Christ, I cringed every time I heard her call my name. It reminded me of everything I hated about being seventeen years old, still in high school, and living in Bend, Minnesota. Why’d I have to be called such an old-fashioned name? For that matter, why were we living like we were some hicks from the Stone Age: no cell phone, no cable TV, and no internet? I was trapped everywhere I turned.
I went to slip through the window, but before I could get completely out of the house and truthfully say I didn’t hear her, Momma called me into the kitchen. She said I should explain what had possibly necessitated a call from the minister and a Saturday morning meeting about “your daughter.”
“That’s what he said to me, Lorraine: ‘your daughter.’ Who do you suppose he meant?”
“It could be Becky.” I said it, but I didn’t believe it for a damn minute. My twin sister, Becky, wouldn’t be the subject of a serious meeting with Pastor Grind unless somebody wanted to name her a saint, and I doubted the Church of Christ went in for saints. That was more of a Catholic thing.
My momma wasn’t Catholic, but she continued the inquisition anyway.
“What would people think to know I’ve been called in to Pastor Grind’s office? Do you think it’s about the scholarship? So help me God if your sister doesn’t win the McGerber scholarship, I’m going to raise holy hell.”
What about me winning the scholarship? That was what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I was smart enough to win a scholarship and smart enough to know I shouldn’t suggest to my momma that anybody but her Becky would win it. It didn’t matter that I wanted the scholarship. It didn’t matter that I wanted out and needed out—out of reach of Momma; out of Bend, Minnesota; and just plain out.
I’d done what I could to earn college money. I saved every penny I made bussing tables at the diner where Momma worked. I raised chickens and rabbits and sold them. I worked with Benjamin “Twitch” Twitchell, my dad’s best friend and the local vet, when Momma would allow it. I had good grades and plans to study pre-veterinary medicine in college. The librarian had helped me apply, and I had already been accepted to an animal sciences program. I hadn’t told anybody. It was on a need-to-know basis, and nobody else needed to know. For that matter, the college didn’t know I didn’t have the money to go unless I won that scholarship, and no matter what Momma thought, I had a real shot at winning a scholarship.
Who’s in trouble with Pastor Grind? I wondered. Then I wondered, Who am I kidding? Becky never did anything wrong. I was in trouble, sure as hell, but which sin had Pastor Grind uncovered? I went outside our farmhouse and gave myself the most complete moral frisking I could muster.
Yes, I had sold my lunch ticket for cash. Yes, I resold candy and pop from my locker between classes. And yes, boys with too many chores and sports practices and too little time and intellect to complete biology worksheets and English compositions had paid me to do their homework. Although these were sins by the book, I doubted that any of that mattered to Pastor Grind. I dug deeper—examined my heart, soul, and hormones. Holy Christ, it had to be the kiss.
About Nancy J. Hedin
I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota. That small town sensibility informs my writing and gives me interesting voices in my head and I strive to choose which voice to bring to the page.
I live in St. Paul with my partner, two daughters, one dog, one bearded dragon, and two cats.
I have worked as a mental health crisis worker for over twenty years.
I love reading and getting my books signed by the author. I daydream about my own stories in book form and having others read them.
Connect with Nancy
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
To celebrate the release of Bend, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 13, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!