Prelude To An Empire by Terry J. Benton
“At 23, how the hell did I get to this point?” Russell Wright asks himself as he sits in his car with a handful of pills, ready to commit suicide. Russell’s life has been a roller coaster ride for as long as he can remember and today he wants to get off – forever.
While growing up in rural Georgia, Russell shares an unusual friendship with his mother, Charlene Wright. Charlene and Russell bond over their private struggle with Russell’s abusive father – a situation that climaxes the night that Russell’s father tries to murder their entire family.
As if things weren’t bad enough with his family issues, Russell has to endure relentless bullying surrounding suspicions about his sexuality – something he has yet to determine for himself. As a result of bullying and conflict with his spirituality, Russell’s personal growth is hindered and he struggles to find himself and his place in the world.
The one bright spot in Russell’s life is his best friend, Mercedes. She is beautiful, a diva, and sometimes a bit too ghetto – but most importantly, she provides comedic relief, strength, and support for Russell… and she’s also a lesbian. Russell and Mercedes’ relationship strengthens over her struggle for acceptance of her lifestyle and they vow to be best friends forever – until they leave for college and their friendship takes a dramatic turn for the worst.
As Russell’s story progresses, he fights to understand himself and the motives of the people in his life, as he experiences the lows and highs of friendships and relationships. In the end, this powerful and dramatic journey comes full circle to resolve the issue of whether he will indeed end his life.
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