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Lauren Scharhag is a writer of fiction and poetry. She is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince, and West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her work has appeared in The Voices Project, The Fredericksburg Review, Referential Magazine, A World of Terror anthology, The SNReview, and other publications. She is the recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry and a fellowship from Rockhurst University for fiction. A recent transplant to the Florida Panhandle, she lives with her husband and three cats.
Be sure to check out her author blog for short stories, excerpts, reviews and other writings.
on Oct. 14, 2014 :
Under Julia, is not a nice tale. It’s not about the hero and the damsel. Quite the opposite. This story is based on the encampments of sex offenders that were forced to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway In Miami, FL. The story takes a close look at several characters, who have committed crimes, that many in society find unforgivable. But these men have done their time and are considered free men. Due to harsh sex offender laws, their sentence never really stopped, and they are forced to live under a bridge like the trolls society see’s them as. Under Julia is a powerful piece of work that shows you how truly gray our world is compared to the black and white world we like to believe we live in.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
Elizabeth Audrey Mills
on Oct. 26, 2013 :
The author of 'Under Julia' is gifted writer Lauren Scharhag. She takes us into a surreal, Bosch-like world, with characters that are too real for comfort. The research for this book is pervasive, it is fiction set in an all-too-real place, with actors who know how to get under your skin.
The 'Julia' in the title is the Julia Tuttle Causeway, the bridge by which interstate highway I-195 crosses the Biscayne Bay to Miami Beach. Under it, at the western end, lives a colony of misfits, the lowest of the fallen. It is a harsh place, yet the inhabitants learn to brush along together, sometimes helping each other, sometimes fighting, mostly just surviving, living with their secrets.
Most of the book is told in the voice of Craig Winstead, and Scharhag makes that voice disturbingly real. We join him as he is released from prison, and follow him as he tries to integrate into a changed world, a world that does not want him. I tried to like him, or at least understand him --he's the guy sharing a piece of his life, after all-- but he only opens up so far, and what he reveals is so dark that, sometimes, I wished he had kept it to himself. How the author managed to live with him in her head for long enough to write this excellent, chilling book I cannot imagine.
Although Winstead is the main story-teller, some of the others who live in the constant rumble of traffic and the smell of rejected humanity also get to speak, to share their own version of the events that led them to Julia. You will not bond with these men, but you may begin to understand some of the twists of fate that brought them down, and you will see how society treats these rejects.
The tension is palpable. I am, perhaps, oversensitive, and sometimes I had to force myself to read about things that made me shiver. But, you know, I was glad to have had the priviledge of reading something very special indeed, a work of skill and art that I will always remember.
(reviewed 56 days after purchase)
on Sep. 02, 2013 :
I was first exposed to this novel in St. Louis at the Sigma Tau Delta National Convention. I later approached Scharhag about the novel and was accepted as a beta reader.
This novel is honest, brutal, and touching and sheds light on a real dilemma faced by men and women of this nation. Scharhag's interpretation of the emotional and psychological state of the residents of community under Julia is fascinating and full of vibrant depictions that draw the readers in.
(reviewed the day of purchase)