Author’s debut novel about love and loss set in Dayton and Centerville

Courtney Turcotte Bond will sign copies of her book on Saturday

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Though it may be her debut novel, author Courtney Turcotte Bond has managed to craft a poignant and deeply personal story about love and loss set in Dayton.

Turcotte Bond’s debut novel, “Breathtaking,” tells the story of Cara, a young girl who struggles to overcome the turmoil in her home, and the special relationship she shares with her best friend and next door neighbor, Adam. Throughout the novel, Cara struggles to overcome even more challenges that are heartbreakingly unique.

The novel is set in Dayton, Canterville (or Centerville, according to Turcotte Bond) and Wilmington, North Carolina during the late 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Throughout the novel, Turcotte Bond mentions Bill’s Donuts, Marion’s Piazza, the Oregon District and many other points of interest in Dayton.

Though Turcotte Bond is originally from Lawrence, Kansas, she moved to Centerville when she was 10 years old and spent her formative years exploring Dayton and its various neighborhoods. When Turcotte Bond sat down to write her first novel, she decided to pay homage to the area.

“I wanted a place I was familiar with and I just have such fond memories of growing up in Dayton,” Turcotte Bond said. “I also wanted the book to be nostalgic for other people who’ve grown up in Dayton. I mean, when I read things that reference places that I’ve been before, I’ve just always enjoyed that as a reader myself. I wanted that connection with my readers.”

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Turcotte Bond has been an English teacher in Lawrence, Kansas for 17 years. In 2015, she became a homebound teacher for Madison Taliaferro, a high school freshman at Washburn Rural High School with cystic fibrosis who was unable to attend classes in person. Three years before entering high school, Taliaferro received a lung transplant to help her cope with symptoms from cystic fibrosis.

Over the course of two years, Turcotte Bond spent two or three nights a week getting to know Taliaferro and her family. The family eventually revealed the tragic story behind the lung transplant. When she was just 12 years old, Taliaferro received a transplant from Mississippi high school senior Alex Lott who died when his spinal cord was injured during a game of touch football. Turcotte Bond recounted the time in which Lott’s parents visited Taliaferro.

“Lott’s family came to listen to their son’s lungs in Madison,” she said. “That happened right around when I first started working with her. Alex just was this incredible kid and organ donation was really important to him. I am around teenage boys all the time and I don’t hear teenage boys talking about organ donation, but he actually told his mom that he wanted to be an organ donor when he got his license.”

Turcotte Bond was actually suffering through a bout of writer’s block while working on another novel when she was Taliaferro’s homebound teacher. However, she was so inspired by Taliaferro and Lott that she switched gears to write a book loosely based on their story instead.

“I started writing ‘Breathtaking’ in October of 2017,” Turcotte Bond said. “I told Madison that I was starting to write this book and that she had inspired it. She was just so excited about that.”

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Credit: Courtney Turcotte Bond

Unfortunately, Taliaferro passed away in December 2018. After her death, Turcotte Bond made it her mission to complete “Breathtaking” as an ode to Taliaferro. After working on the book for over three years, “Breathtaking” was released in September 2020.

A portion of the proceeds from the book goes towards the Madison Taliaferro Memorial Scholarship and the Alex Lott Memorial Scholarship. In fact, according to Turcotte Bond, the sales from her book amounted to approximately 80 percent of the scholarships given away from both memorial funds this past year.

This summer, Turcotte Bond hopes to begin working on her next book, which will be a biography of Taliaferro and Lott. “Breathtaking” and the joint biography both work to raise awareness about the power of organ donation.

“Alex was able to save a total of five lives from his organ donation,” Turcotte Bond said. “[Taliaferro] lived six extra years of life because of that organ donation. I don’t think I grasped the gravity of that until she passed away.”

Turcotte Bond will sign copies of her books for fans at Tastefully Roasted Coffee, located at 6 Oakwood Ave. in Dayton, on Saturday, June 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Breathtaking” can be purchased on Amazon.

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