CENTIPEDE is the story of an eleven year old child, who when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, survives and succeeds in obtaining the life every child deserves.
Willa Cather Jennings, who detests her given name and therefore goes by Willie, is the lone survivor of her family’s harrowing murder. Consumed with emotion, she finds herself traveling with Thomas, the manic depressive stranger, who stepped in to save her.
The two travel together through North Alabama, the Appalachia to the Outer Banks in North Carolina before arriving in Savannah, Georgia where they join his sister Jane. Along the way, Willie’s dependency on Thomas turns to trust; he, in turn, finds new meaning in life through his friendship with the child.
In Savannah, Willie -who grew up in a fragmented and impoverished family -finds comfort, happiness and belonging. But, just as she comes to terms with her past and embraces her future, Thomas returns to Alabama seeking vengeance and Detective Nicholas Cox, an old friend of Willie’s mother who has been searching for the missing child, pieces the past and present together.
~Several years ago, my students asked why I had not written a book for them; it was then that the idea for Centipede was born.
As a teacher, the majority of my time is spent with children. At the end of the day, many return home to ideal family settings; many more do not. There are some who rarely see their parent or guardian and so they’ve learned to fend for themselves. Willie is one of those children. You know the kind -the kid who is self-resilient, who harnesses the magical power of imagination to make it through the especially rough times.
Many children live in a low socio-economic area; the poor are quietly poor. When I read parts of Centipede to my students, I saw recognition as they acknowledged the similarities between the heroine’s life and theirs, and how her indomitable spirit mirrors their own.
I hope you enjoy the novel!