At six years old, Mary Alice Lydell is consumed by fear. No one can protect her from the monster she cannot name. Even if she understood the monster, she couldn’t tell Momma or Aunt Jean or her best friend Carolyn, because if she did, they would know she was bad and wouldn’t love her. She sits inside her closet, talking to Birdhouse Jesus, a crucifix she stole from Aunt Jean, hoping he will make Daddy be nice to her and not behave in ways that terrify her.
In her teens, filled with self-loathing, Mary Alice falls quickly and deeply in love with a man who touches her gently and makes her feel worthy. Soon, she has another secret – and a baby on the way. The baby’s father also has a secret: he’s married to someone else.
Family ties – the ones that bind and nurture, and the ones that strangle and suffocate – shape Mary Alice’s life in profound ways. Although Birdhouse Jesus is a story of trauma and betrayal, it is also one of resilience and hope, as Mary Alice struggles to become the woman that a part of her has always known she could be.
Terri was born on February 27, 1957 in Rome, Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree from Berry College in Rome in 1979. She and her husband, Joseph Wayne Chastain, raised three children: Brian, Michelle, and Winter.
Terri was passionate about her work in the nonprofit community. She spent twenty-five years in the Orlando area fundraising and teaching fundraising. Terri also was active in the creative writing community for over thirty years with several poems published. Terri loved Central Florida and had a passion for the Canadian Rockies and her special place, St. Augustine, Florida
Birdhouse Jesus is her first novel.