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 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.