Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Book Spotlight for The Precious Jules by Shawn Nocher


After nearly 200 years of housing retardants, as they were once known, the Rosewood Institute is closing the doors on its dark history, and the complicated task of reassigning residents has begun. An adult Ella Jules, having arrived decades earlier at the tender age of seven, must rely on the state to decide her future. Ella’s aging parents have requested she be returned to her childhood home, much to the distress of Ella’s siblings, but more so to Lynetta, her beloved caretaker who has been by her side for decades. The five adult Jules children haunted by the earliest memories of their sister, each dealing with the trauma of her banishment in their own flawed way, are converging on the family home, secrets in tow, arriving from the far corners of the country to talk some sense into their aging parents and get to the root of this inexplicable change of heart.


The Precious Jules examines the thin line between selfishness and what passes for love. This family story asks what is best for one child in light of what is perceived as the greater good, and just what is the collective legacy of deep family secrets, shame, and helplessness. The Precious Jules is a deeply felt family narrative that will make you fall in love with these flawed and imperfect characters standing on the threshold of an awakening they never expected.

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Meet Shawn

I was raised on forty acres of land in the northern part of Baltimore County, Maryland. It was lovely and idyllic and could be easily romanticized, but it was also a bit lonely. I had horses, dogs, cats, pet rabbits, mice, and snakes as well as siblings and probably preferred them in that order, but I also had books and a mother who loved them. Seems a small thing, but she gave me access to her extensive library and nourished my soul with Willa Cather, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, O. Henry and more. She read voraciously and wasn’t too good for a romp with a Jackie Collins novel. If it was in print, she would read it, and likewise so did I. She was especially proud of the fact that she had smuggled an unabridged copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover from Europe in the late 50s. 

I was lucky enough to learn to read by way of an experimental phonetic alphabet and so, by the age of six, I was able to “write” anything that popped in my head without much of a struggle. And thus, the storytelling began. 


I earned my bachelor’s degree at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and my Master of Arts in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. In between the two degrees there were amusing stints as a freelance copywriter, a bookstore clerk, and a florist. I raised a family, adopted a menagerie of stray animals, and gave wings to two children. But always, I was writing. 


My short stories have appeared in a number of literary publications and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to the tireless efforts of generous staff readers and editors who often volunteer their time to gather the best works from around the world and then present them, beautifully formatted and often free to the larger world. Their gift is my blessing. 


I live with my husband and an assortment of sassy rescue animals in Baltimore City where I write novels and short stories in a room of my own. These are stories I am compelled to tell, my way of examining the ways in which our hearts are tethered to one another. 

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