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Kathleen Taylor is Grant and Lainie Taylor’s teenage daughter who appears in both Learning to Live Again and Unexpected Surprises. She is 15 in the first book and almost 16 in the second. Kathleen is also unquestionably one of my most controversial and in my opinion, misunderstood characters.

Kathleen is one of those characters that seems to inspire strong feeling. Based on the reactions of readers that I have heard from, readers either really like her and find her to be a realistic portrayal of what a modern teenager might make of the concept of DD or a place like Corbin’s Bend. That’s who don’t like her find her obnoxious and a brat of the highest order. Truth be told, I can’t fault either observation. I very much wanted Kathleen to present a normal teenager thrown into a very unfamiliar place and way of life. On the other hand, she can certainly be obnoxious and more than a little bratty on occasion. (What teenager isn’t?) At the same time, it was never my intention for Kathleen to come off as seriously unlikable. Whether I succeeded or failed, my intention was to show a very confused teenager, not as she has been called on more than one occasion, a brat or a bitch. She’s angry at having to leave her home and all her friends behind. She’s furious and jealous that her sister is making friends in their new community while everyone she mets seems incredibly lame. More than anything else, she’s incredibly confused about the whole idea of domestic discipline. Kathleen has been fairly well educated with regard to dating violence, but she like many people, struggles with the difference between DD and abuse.The following excerpt is one of my favorite Kathleen moments and also, to my mind at least, one of the clearest examples that Kathleen is really struggling and confused.


 

Lainie rubbed a hand across her forehead, not bothering to engage in what she knew would be both a fruitless and pointless argument. “Secondly, it wouldn’t hurt for you to at least try to make friends with some of the teenagers around here.”

“Why would I want to do that? Everyone here is lame,” she huffed.

“How do you know that?” Lainie persisted. “They can’t be all bad. Besides, didn’t I see you talking to a boy at the pool last weekend?”

“No you did not,” Kathleen informed her haughtily, flinging her hair back over her shoulders and blowing impatiently at the blonde streaked with hot pink locks that fell in her face. “You saw him talking to me. That doesn’t mean I was talking back. Maybe at first.  He seemed cool. I thought I might have finally found someone who lives here who was sane.Turns out, he actually thinks all this crazy spanking stuff is perfectly normal. He had the nerve to tell me he expected to be allowed to spank any girl who was his girlfriend.”

“Honey, for the kids who have grown up here, This is normal,” Lainie explained gently.

“No, it’s not!” Kathleen shouted, throwing both knife and potato down on the table. “This is not normal! No going is ever going to hit me!” She erupted out of her chair, sending it clattering across the floor. “It’s abuse, and I know it even if you don’t. Everyone in the real world says so.” Before Lainie could respond, Kathleen had fled up the stairs. Seconds later, her bedroom door slammed, echoing through the house like an explosion.

“What was that all about?” Grant asked, coming in from work on the heels of Kathleen’s exit.

Sighing, Lainie righted the chair, picked up the discarded knife, and told him. Before she had even finished the story, Grant came over and put his arms around her, letting her drop her head back against his chest. “I wish this wasn’t so hard for her,” she said when she had finished recounting.

“I do too,” Grant replied, “but we can’t help her understand if she refuses to even consider another point of view.”

“That’s a point,” Lainie conceded, “but I wonder if we are not asking too much of a 15-year-old. I’m just beginning to understand this lifestyle myself, and I entered into it as a consenting – it naïve – adult. She didn’t really have much of a choice.”

“She did,” Grant insisted. “We talked about this together as a family. She had as much opportunity as anybody else to raise concerns.”

“She’s 15, Grant,” Lainie said. “How much real understanding can she possibly have? I knew your father and grandfather and had at least had conversations with you about this lifestyle before I agreed to it. The girls don’t even have that, not really.”


Learning-to-Live-Again-Final-200Tired of increasing chaos in his family life and the distance that is growing between him and his wife, Lainie, Grant Taylor decides the only way to save his marriage is to get back to the domestic discipline lifestyle he grew up with. When he finds Corbin’s Bend on the Internet, he is certain it is the perfect place for them to start over.

Exhausted and tired of juggling everything herself, Lainie reluctantly agrees to her husband’s suggestion. However, she is new to the lifestyle and more than a little uncertain about it. To make matters worse, their 15-year-old daughter Kathleen is convinced they had moved her into some kind of weird spanking cult. She is miserable and not at all shy about letting everybody know it.

Will moving to Corbin’s Bend be their saving grace, or will it be the final straw that tears them apart?

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