THE BEAUTIFUL MISFITS
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Eighty-four seconds can change your life. Or destroy it. Josie Nickels is an Emmy-winning news anchor, poised to rise through the ranks of television journalism. On a bitter March evening on live TV, the pressures and secrets burbling behind the closed doors of her ridiculous Victorian mansion explode and the overwhelmed journalist spills family secrets like a Baptist at altar call. The aftermath costs her much more than a career. It robs her of a beloved son—a preppy, educated millennial trapped in the deadly world of addiction. Desperate for a new start and a way to save her son, Josie packs up her pride, her young daughter, and accepts a new job slinging cosmetics at a department store make-up counter with other disgraced celebs. In the gorgeous mountains of Asheville N.C., known for hippies, healings, and Subarus, Josie is faced with a choice for her son: Take a chance on a bold, out-of-the-ordinary treatment plan for her son or lose him forever. This heart-wrenching and, at times, hilarious novel, will delight fans of book-club women’s fiction and inspire and give hope to those with addicted sons and daughters.
Read an Excerpt
Josie finally managed to reach the woman stroking the La Belleza products as if she were examining the finest porcelain from the Qing dynasty. The jars and hour-glass-shaped bottles, in that rich lapis blue, were where the money grew.
“Hola. May I help you, ma’am?” Josie always gave her customers space, not making them feel the intense pressure they might endure at another counter or from a sales associate who hadn’t hit her goal in a month.
“I was wondering if I might have a sample of this new oil?” she asked. Her lips hardly moved. She had one of those manmade faces, tight and swollen baboon-fanny traits, courtesy of plastic surgery that left her of an undeterminable age and species. Every feature hardened like papier-mâché as if mummified. Oh, and her hair! Josie couldn’t peel her eyes from the woman’s updo, rising hive-like and so stiff with lacquer a gum wrapper was embedded near the top. Two white petals from the Bradford pear trees had blown in and settled near a neck so tight you could all but see her thyroid.
“Why, we certainly can arrange for a sample,” Josie said. “At La Belleza, if you have a seat for a few minutes and give me the honor of demonstrating our award-winning skin care, we are happy to treat you to a gift with your visit.” Into the chair and out with the Brigman’s charge card. Twenty minutes later the woman left with Josie’s personalized skincare guide, three small samples in a lapis-and-white polka-dotted La Belleza cosmetics bag, and nearly five hundred dollars on her card.
About the Author:Susan Reinhardt grew up in LaGrange, GA. and Spartanburg, S.C.where most girls twirled batons, entered beauty pageants, and became debutantes.
Bucking the norm, Susan spent her free time water skiing almost every day, fishing, and pining for a ragamuffin boy who was always up to no good.
Earlier in her college years, she pursued nursing, but most of her patients were terminal and her mastery and frequency of giving enemas had her questioning this line of work, though she adores nurses and often wishes she’d have stuck with the field.
She recently took a part-time job caring for adults with disabilities and loves the work, figuring it would at least make up for past misdeeds and get her a better shot at the Pearly Gates.
Writing has always been her first love. And she became good enough at it to earn many dozens of awards, including three Best of Gannetts for her feature stories and columns. Along with a bunch of other junk that really doesn't matter in the end.
What matters to Reinhardt is making people laugh. And think. And love others.
She is married to her second and final husband, country and genius lawyer Donny Laws who is bald but has a ponytail and loves to ride a bike. She has two adult kids, three steps, and a granddaughter.
She’s been on national TV, has modeled for one glossy magazine, and was the subject of a British documentary on aging and body image. She hopes that the documentary is lost and never resurfaces.
She once had a radio show called Susan Uncensored; a sold-out one-woman show called “From Hilarity to Insanity and Back.”
She no longer water skis but performs fairly decent front and backflips from a diving board and half-ass rides a unicycle and twirls a baton simultaneously.
Her hobbies include a vintage camper obsession and she’s owned three. Recently she’s settled on her 1968 Scotsman, which she hopes to paint pink and teal with polka-dots and haul on book tours.
She has two rescue cats who vehemently hate each other.
In her next life, she’d like to be a figure skater.
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