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Janiece gets an education in just three short months. In October she learns tolerance from her fatherâ€™s new helper Jay Sims. In November she learns to forgive her parents for being human. In December she learns patience from Doug Sherman when he finally kisses her for the first time on Christmas day.
Just as the seasons change, so does Janiece. She changes from a silly girl to a teenager with real problems, and yet, she finds a way to deal with each one of them.
"Can I have a ride?â€
Janiece faced Linda, and frowned at the seventh grader that had caused her so many problems.
"Donâ€™t you know itâ€™s rude to invite yourself? Aw, get in, itâ€™s too cold for anyone to be walking, even a pain in the rear like you!â€
Both Lindaâ€™s and Jessieâ€™s homes had pretty Christmas trees in their front windows, and Janiece bragged on them when she let them out.
The lights from the windows in her house werenâ€™t twinkling blue and red, but the light shining through her living room let her know someone was there waiting for her. When she opened the front door, smells of their evening meal greeted her.
She didnâ€™t know why she felt like crying but she did, and she wanted to hug someone. Her mother stepped into the living room, drying her hands on the apron fastened around her waist.
Janiece hugged her mother. "Oh, Mama I just love you so much,â€ Janiece told her with her eyes closed, and she heard her motherâ€™s soft chuckle.
"Now what have you done?â€ Her mother asked, kissing the top of Janieceâ€™s head.
"Nothing,â€ she answered going to her bedroom. She pitched her coat across the chair and sat on the edge of the bed, and looked at the wall of her room covered with pictures of her teen idols.
Sheâ€™d been mad at her mother ever since the night of the "big fight,â€ and sheâ€™d wondered who her "realâ€ daddy was. Other times, like last week when her mother had berated a girl in school for "having to get married,â€ she wanted to shout, and tell her she wasnâ€™t any better after what sheâ€™d done. But, she didnâ€™t know for sure what her mother had done, and she was afraid to ask. Now that anger was gone and she felt relieved.
Sheâ€™d been angry with her father because he wasnâ€™t her father. It hurt her feelings when he told her mother to take her when she ran off with that man, but he wanted Donna to stay there with him. Sheâ€™d always felt her father was partial to Donna and Nickie, and now she knew why. He didnâ€™t love her as much because she reminded him of the man her mother ran away with, and she wasnâ€™t his daughter. But now, she didnâ€™t feel angry with him. Of course a man wouldnâ€™t want someone elseâ€™s little girl.
But she wasnâ€™t a little girl any longer. She was nearly grown and he had let her stay. Soon she would be old enough to marry and leave his house forever. She looked in the mirror over her dresser, and wondered if she looked like her "realâ€ father.
"Janiece! Come help me!â€
She jumped when she heard her brotherâ€™s voice followed by a crash from the living room. When she rushed into the living room, she couldnâ€™t believe her eyes. Standing in the doorway was Nickie with a Christmas tree. The tree was wedged between the small rocker by the door and the blonde drum table in front of the double windows facing the street. The trees limbs knocked off some of their motherâ€™s whatnots from the table but, thankfully, only one was broken.
She rushed across the room and met him at the door just as their mother entered from the kitchen side. "What have you done?â€ Janiece asked looking at him in amazement.
"What in the hell is this?â€ Faye shouted at them. "I donâ€™t feel like messing with a stupid tree! You know Iâ€™m sick. Why did you bring that sticky thing in here?â€
His eyes pleaded Janiece to help him pull it into the room.
Janiece stared at him. "Oh, youâ€™re going to be in so much trouble.â€ She took the top part of the tree in both hands and tugged while he pushed on the trunk. Suddenly the tree lunged forward it nearly knocked her over.
Chandler, Oklahoma has been the home of Kowanda Stroud for twenty-eight years. However, she grew up in the small town of Fletcher located in southwestern Oklahoma. For many years she entertained friends by telling stories about some of Fletcherâ€™s more colorful characters. After a published author and friend read some of her short stories, she encouraged and mentored Kowanda to write a novel. Kowanda never dreamed that sheâ€™d be able to write an entire book about growing up in Fletcher during the 1950s. Much to her amazement, she has written four adult novels, Killing Time, Icey May, Too Small For A Gate, and The Best Of The Worst Times.
She married her high school sweetheart Dewey forty-five years ago in Fletcher. They have two daughters, Kathy and Kim, and seven grandchildren. Kowanda is very proud both of her daughters are schoolteachers.
Kowanda is also an artist and finds inspiration for her writing from painting.
The Best of the Worst Times is a delightful depiction of life in a small Oklahoma town in a simpler time, when everyone knew their neighbors and doors were left unlocked. Kowanda Stroud weaves the story of Janiece Addisonâ€™s coming of age amid the struggles and joys of everyday life. Those of us who grew up in any small town in the late fifties will remember fondly our days at the local movie theatre and sodas shared at the Rexall. Stroudâ€™s story will leave others longing for memories of life in a town like Love, Oklahoma. --Linda Rettstatt, And the Truth Will Set You Free, Wings ePress
Polish up those saddle oxfords and shake out your poodle skirt! In The Best of the Worst Times, author Kowanda Stroud takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of small town life in the 1950â€™s. In Love, Oklahoma everyone has a secret or two and teen-ager Janiece Addison knows most of them. Though her life is full of the teen trials of the day, such as winning a lock of Elvisâ€™ hair, getting a brand new mouton coat, or getting a kiss from the cutest guy she knows, others in Love donâ€™t have it so easy. Many of the small-town folk who pass through Janieceâ€™s life are flawed but possess the strength to remain hopeful and, as a reader, you find yourself cheering for them. Ms. Stroud has a wonderful mastery of the language and tone of the times and captures the essence of small town life beautifully. I heartily recommend this wonderful book. --Rita Thedford, Author of Tempted (Wings ePress), One Dependable Man (The Wild
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 322
Paper Weight (lb): 13.4
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