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"i Colored Her Pretty"

"i Colored Her Pretty"

2020 . Stephen Tosha, Kristin Cicciarelli



"i Colored Her Pretty"
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About the book

In 1970s southern California, young Stephen Tosha lives in a cramped apartment with his mother, Barbara, and three older brothers. Barbara is an opera-singing, narcissistic, hypochondriac who leaves every weekend to be with her boyfriend. She frequently reminds her sons that she works very hard to provide for them.His father, AL, is a rough-and tumble, chain-smoking, alcoholic--a man who spends most of his time at the race track betting on horses, rather than his children's futures. When Barbara tells Al she wants a divorce, he quits his lucrative corporate job in lieu of a bartending gig at his brother's seedy dive and refuses to pay child support.At age nine, Stephen takes action by getting a job at a local bowling alley. He has already realized he will have to get out of his home situation on his own. He is overweight, bullied at school, and knows that he is gay. A caring teacher senses problems at home and takes him under her wing. When the teacher questions Barbara regarding her negligence, Barbara explodes.During final custody negotiations, Stephen's oldest brother, age 12, tells Barbara he has a secret about Al and he no longer wants to spend weekends with him. The next time Al arrives to pick up his sons, Barbara hands him a letter stating that she knows Al tried to molest their oldest son and the boy was willing to testify against him. As a result, Al agrees that his two oldest sons no longer have to visit him--but the two youngest sons, Stephen and Anthony, are not spared that decision. Al remarries and has two step-sons--the older one, in-and-out of jail; the younger one, morbidly obese and home-schooled.Stephen also has a secret, mistakenly believing he is the only one being sexually abused by his father--until he walks in on Al abusing his obese step-son. At age 11, Stephen suffers a breakdown and is hospitalized. When he recovers, he tells Barbara he won't go to Al's house anymore. For the first time in his young life, he experiences hope. At age 17, he moves out of his mother's apartment.Years later, Stephen is finally ready to tell his mother he is gay (Anthony has already come out). She steals his thunder by telling him a secret of her own: Anthony is not Al's biological son. She asks Stephen to keep her secret and he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, Anthony is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.When his step-brother dies by overdose, Stephen realizes that he, too, could easily fall prey to the devastating effects of sexual abuse. He finds a therapist and begins the healing process, determined not to let his past destroy his future.Stephen confronts Barbara regarding her knowledge of her children's sexual abuse but she refuses to take any responsibility. With no resolution from her, Stephen confronts Al, who also denies any wrongdoing. Still, Stephen walks away from Al triumphantly, knowing that because he stood up for himself, he is no longer controlled by the memory of his father's horrific acts.Barbara reunites with her former lover, who is Anthony's biological father. She now wants to tell Anthony the truth. Anthony is devastated, and angry with Stephen for keeping her secret.Anthony continues to struggle with addiction, finally getting sober in his late 30s. But when the two brothers get together for Barbara's 75th birthday party, Stephen notices Anthony's erratic behavior. Days later, Anthony disappears and Stephen frantically searches for him, fearing he is dead. Anthony's body is found in an Ohio hotel room, the victim of an accidental overdose.Gradually, and up until Barbara's death, Stephen realizes that no matter how much he tries to help his mother, she will never change and he must accept her as she is. But it is in this acceptance that Stephen heals his childhood wounds and finds true happiness.






Independently Published



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