Good Reads / Art / Video

Type to search

Mystery Selves

Mystery Selves Premieres on ArtProfiler 3/1/18!

Randi Turkin February 22, 2018

Mystery Selves

A novella by Nicole Jeffords

It’s high summer and in a small house deep in the Vermont woods, two teenage girls witness a terrible tragedy that forces them to keep dark secrets from their mothers, middle-aged ladies who’ve been best friends since early childhood and have untellable secrets of their own. Sex, drugs, first love, infidelity, feelings of displacement, are all in this morality tale about loss of innocence and what happens if the thing you dread most should befall you.

mystery selves


From the beginning, even before she could articulate words, Julie had known she came from somewhere else. “You grew like a little fish in another lady’s tummy,” Gail would say, determined to protect Julie from any nastiness or shock regarding the truth of her origins. “Daddy and I cried with happiness and love when the social worker carried you off the plane from Korea and put you in our arms.” Until quite recently Gail would stop whatever she was doing, stare at Julie misty-eyed and say: “We love you probably even more than a child of our own flesh.”

Love was the point that was stressed. Love, love, love, love. Growing up in Vermont, usually the only Asian girl in her class, Julie was made to feel she needed far more love than most other children, gobs and gobs of it, like extra padding against the cold. In time, Julie came to resent this love not only because it set her apart, but because it was like a giant, sticky net tripping her up, impeding forward movement. Gail and Frank insisted on scrutinizing every inch of her life to be sure there weren’t any rough spots or shadows that might blow up in her face. They worried about drinking and drugs (Gail could have sworn on several occasions that the smell of marijuana wafted up from Julie’s long black hair), about self-esteem, Julie’s occasionally low grades, the possibility of her getting in a car with the wrong person, or falling in love with the wrong boy. The summer she was sixteen she did fall in love with the wrong boy, but it was a while before her parents found out about it.