What started out as a short story “rattling around the brain” of Karen Forester, has turned into a two-story book 19 years in the making.
Forester of Defiance has published her first work of Christian fiction titled, “Joletta’s Dreams,” which chronicles the life of a young, high-school-aged girl named Joletta. The idea for the story first came to Forester about 20 years ago, and over time, with many starts and stops, morphed into a Christian book.
“It wasn’t supposed to be a book, it was a short story that just kept growing,” said Forester who grew up in southwest Missouri before moving to Defiance 45 years ago with her husband, Wayne. “I’d write a little bit, then I’d get away from it because we were foster parents who fostered 48 kids the last 18 years. When my husband retired, (not long ago), we decided we were going to make time for us, and that’s when I really got back to the story.”
Forester shared that the book wasn’t going to be a Christian book at first, but as time went on, she felt God calling her to write it that way. It’s her hope the book will be an encouragement for anyone who reads it. Forester also admitted that there’s a little bit of some of her foster children in Joletta.
“When we were foster parents, I was a little distracted as far as the book, but we never got bored,” laughed Forester, who has two grown kids, six grandkids and two great-grandkids. “At first, this was just a story, but as it grew, I felt I was being called to add the Christian aspect and share my faith. There’s bits and pieces of the kids we’ve connected with over the years in Joletta, too, so all of that coming together has made it fun and interesting.”
Forester describes the story of her heroine, Joletta (which is split into two stories in one book), this way:
“Joletta returns home to find her mother passed out on the couch, again! Jo is frightened not only for herself, but for her baby sister, Annie. Joletta knows it is not right, mothers are supposed to take care of their children, not the other way around.
“Just because Sam, Annie’s father, left them it does not excuse her mother’s behavior. Mom even spent the money they receive from Social Services, and missed the appointment with the WIC program, which provides extra food supplements for children in need.
“Joletta is hurt and angry with mom, but that will not buy food for Annie, so she decides her only option is to ask the neighbor, Mrs. Taylor, if she will lend them some money. She has to tell a lie, which she knows isn’t right, but she certainly does not want to tell the neighbor the ‘true story.’
“Susan Taylor, who was widowed as a young mother, raised her children in her big Victorian house and although the neighborhood is not what it used to be, refuses to leave her home.
“She senses something seems a little off when the girl asks for a loan, but readily agrees to give Joletta the $10. As time goes by, she will become an important part of, not only Joletta’s life, but she will become very special to the entire family.
“Jim Benning is the social worker who Sandi (Joletta’s mom) resents, but she realizes she must cooperate with in order to get the state assistance the family needs. The story follows Joletta and her family through the next few years as the young girl grows and matures into a young woman.
“What do her dreams mean? Where will her hopes take her, and what life challenges will she meet along her journey?”
At this point, Forester believes that she’s not done with the character of Joletta, in fact she already has a title for the next book, “Where Dreams Go.”
“I would love to do a third story (second book) about Joletta, and what happens next as she makes her way into young adulthood,” Forester said.