Jessica Toft was raised in a religion that didn’t value women’s choices. Maybe that’s why she has such a hard time making the right ones.
Now an adult, Jessica is working with her therapist Melinda to gain control of her life. Born with a natural curiosity and love for science, the strict belief system of Jessica’s youth has grown alongside her like a weed, strangling her future and her dreams of studying at MIT. When Christopher, her high school boyfriend and a member of the same religious organization, proposes, she feels pressured to accept in order to please her loved ones and quiet her moral conscience. But Jessica soon learns she’s not the only one torn between two worlds. Although she is ready to break free from old beliefs in order to pursue the life she really loves, Christopher is not. He is trapped between a sexuality he can no longer deny and a religion that will damn him if he acknowledges it. With no outlet for his anguish, Jessica becomes the scapegoat of his sorrow and the object of his abuse. With a young child and another baby on the way, Jessica must make heart wrenching decisions that will either save or destroy them both.
In the spirit of Roxane Gay and Joan Didion, this novel takes a fearless look at complicated aspects of womanhood, such as education, marriage, and reproduction. In a fearless examination of complex spirituality and human rights, THE THINGS WE LOSE WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES is both timely and provocative, exploring the nature of free will and good intentions, risk and regret, and the possibility that some mistakes might be worth making.
"Becoming a woman didn’t just happen. Womanhood wasn’t this perfect pearl that suddenly existed, but rather, in much the same way as a pearl itself is made, it existed only after great and deep and very personal struggle. "
- Jessica Toft
THE SUNSHINE BAR is a sensational journey that takes the protagonist across the globe as she comes to terms with the gravity of her sometimes selfish actions.
Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Rosie Lincoln follows in her wealthy father’s footsteps as a drug developer for his company, Allegiant Pharmaceuticals. Her goal is to create a groundbreaking treatment for depression, an experiment she believes will help her fix what had been broken with her mother. When Rosie stumbles across what might be an actual inoculation for depression, her father angrily shuts down her research. He has too much to gain financially by treating depression instead of preventing it, and sends Rosie on a forced sabbatical in Costa Rica, making her promise to abandon her research. It’s a promise she won’t intend to keep.
To pass the time in her new tropical climate, Rosie gets a job at a local bar. She enjoys the rhythm of mixing drinks because it reminds her of being in the lab. Before long, Rosie succumbs to her desire to continue working on the treatment, but there’s a catch: banned from Allegiant and her father’s good graces, she starts using the patrons at the bar as test subjects...without telling them. What began as part-philanthropy, part-experiment turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse when her father discovers what she's doing and will do anything to stop her.
“The world is your classroom,” my mother said, but I wondered if instead of “classroom” what she really meant was “mother.” I imagined what it might feel like to walk into a classroom carrying a tray of cupcakes that my mom had made the night before. In reality, I snuck flutes of champagne off silver trays at parties where my mother, my beautiful mother, was swathed three people deep on all sides; her glittering smile always present, and always distant, like the beacon of a lighthouse, as comforting as it was unreachable.”
Out Winter 2020 by Blydyn Square Books
Women's Literary Fiction
Current work in progress
Projected completion 2018