I don’t even pause when someone asks me this question. I was 15, in holiday in Corfu with my friend Jennifer. I think it was the first year that I moved on from ‘children’s books’ to ‘adult fiction’. I can’t remember which books I took, but I do remember Jennifer lending me one she brought when she had finished it called ‘Red Leaves’ by Paullina Simons.
When I came home, I searched out for more of her books. It was a girl in my music and English class that lent me her copy of ‘Tully’.
It changed my life. It was the first book where I really identified with the characters. And at this point in my life I was really messed up struggling to understand and feeling a great deal of despair. What I loved about Tully is that she survived – she did not come out a saint or perfect, but she eventually found her way and discovered a will to live on. And so did her best friend Julie.
In the book, Tully ends up being a social worker – it’s a surprise to her, but I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone who has known her since she was a teenager.
I’m pretty sure (although I can’t be certain) that the folks that I have known me since I was a teenager don’t find it a shock that I do what I do now either.
I vividly remember being curled up on my bed, listening to this song and the rest of that particular album, reading Paullina Simons’ words.
I realise that many may expect to me have answered this question with ‘The Bible’, and where it is true that I would say God changed my life when I was 17 it was God that changed me not the bible…I don’t think I would have got to that point of being able to question my non-belief, apply to university, attend church and try praying without having read Tully first.