Jesse-Ray Lewis, 19, enters a West Virginia “safe house” with few possessions beyond the kerchiefs that identify him as a gang member. An aged-out foster child, he lands in Bluefield, where a charity gives him food. What follows is the personal, dramatic story of two people who intervene in the life of a homeless, drug-abusing teen with a background of violence and neglect. In their next-door suite called the safe house, they impose three rules: “No alcohol or drugs. You have to work. You have to go to school.”
Jesse-Ray expresses gratitude for shelter and a middle-aged couple concerned with his welfare. But what does he want? The couple struggle to determine his true motives, especially after he admits being high on meth at their first meeting. At night he writes verse reflecting trauma and violence, shame and love, even despair. Author Andrea Brunais sees more than just a street-smart boy who can write. She sees a soul who can be saved from a downward spiral. But will Jesse-Ray accept the help of strangers, as glimmers of hope expressed in his writings suggest? Will the couple succeed in steering him toward a new life? And how will the ordeal transform everyone?
ISBN 978-1-60808-203-2 (Paperback)
6 x 9, 175 pages
Publication date: December 1, 2018
Award-winning journalist and author Andrea Brunais spent 30 years as an editor, reporter, and columnist for Media General, Creative Loafing, and Knight Ridder newspapers. A freelance writer and author of both fiction and nonfiction, she has won awards including Silver medalist, fiction, in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association nationwide contest, 2015.
Her freelance work has appeared in outlets such as the Christian Science Monitor, TravelPulse.com, DuPont Registry, and Appalachian Voice. Her newspaper honors include first place in Commentary from the Florida Press Club, a Robert Kennedy Journalism Award, and first place in the annual Southern Newspaper Publishers competition.
She works in higher-education communications and is the creator and executive producer of the web-episode series Save Our Towns. For more about Brunais and Hillbilly Drug Baby: The Story, please visit hillbillydrugbaby.com.
Award-winning journalist Andrea Brunais offers a glimpse of the story of Jesse-Ray Lewis and the Appalachian town that tried to help him turn his life around.