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Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Cult Repercussions and Juvenile Delinquency

Dear Jeannie,

Phoenix was raised in a cult of assassins and trained to be a killer. Despite the violence and death worship around her, she somehow maintained a conscience and a horror for what she was a part of. As a teenager she escaped the cult and now works with a team of CAPES (an occupation similar to a bounty hunter or U. S. Marshall) for whom she deeply cares. It soon becomes clear to Phoenix that her former cult is involved in the case CAPES team is investigating. She would never want her teammates to know her past but to not speak up will put them in danger. Fear makes her want to run from ever again confronting the cult (b/c rejecting the cult is tantamount to a long but certain death) but she also can't abandon her friends, even though if they know the truth about her, they would reject her. Her childhood training made her cautious and calculating but also violent with a will of steel. She is quick tempered, isolated, intensely reserved, and self hating. When the situation comes to a head and they're all forced to run or fight, will she be able to spill her guts and fess up to her friends? How can she possibly cope and face this situation? 

Against a Wall, Somewhere in the Future

Dear Against a Wall,

Phoenix is in a tough spot, for sure. But you mentioned early on that she retained a horror about the things she was trained and carried out to do. That lets me know that her humanity is still in tact. You also said she's come to care for the CAPES team deeply. So she's going to try to protect them at all costs. I believe she'd try to keep her past a secret for as long as she can (out of self-preservation, which we all have)...but when the rubber meets the road and things come to a head, she will protect them by telling them and facing their rejection in order to save them. Because she is already isolative, she won't see this as the great sacrifice it really is, because their safety will mean more than her comfort or security. She's likely remember the choices she didn't make to do the right thing while within the cult, and not want that on her conscious either. I really don't see the other option of running as viable for her. She's more of an anti-hero, but she's still heroic...and running would be the opposite of heroic (and would make for a MUCH shorter book, lol!). Best of luck!

Dear Jeannie, 

Monet is a teenage girl forced to relocate to a new high school after she was expelled. She does have kleptomania and is a bit of a juvenile delinquent, which was an important factor in her expulsion. Because of this, her entire family moved towns and she and her parents have regular fights. How would this affect her in a new school and how would the regular conflicts affect her family life? 


Dear Relocating,

Most juvenile delinquents aren't going to change just because their environment did. If she's into stealing, then that compulsion doesn't go away. However, if she was involved in a "bad" group of kids in her previous town, and she gets in with the right kids in the new town, it's feasible she could change. But operating on the assumption that she is still involved in delinquent acts of stealing, she's going to continue to have school trouble and, of course, arguments with her parents, who aren't going to be able to keep moving b/c of her. Depending on how she views going to a new school, it could be a clean slate, or she could take up the mantle of a "troubled kid." Only you would know which one she'd most likely want. Her family life would deteriorate without intervention, and she'd gravitate toward more delinquent acts without a firm structure in place. Doesn't sound very good! But if you have more information that you'd want to share below that might change things, feel free! Thanks for writing in.

Got Questions?

Maybe I have answers. Leave your question below anonymously using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my answers in future Dear Jeannie columns. The queue is empty!