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Written Dreams Publishing

Thistles & Thorns by Jessica Lee Peterson

A true crime story about one mom's hard journey after her three daughters are murdered.
Product Details

Thistles & Thorns

by Jessica Lee Peterson

Award-winner of the Reader's Choice Favorite Book Award, and Finalist of the Eric Hoffer Award and Midwest Book Awards (MIPA).

Thistles &Thorns is a mother’s personal memoir of surviving murdered children, seeking justice, rejecting revenge, and persisting through love.

This true crime memoir will wreak havoc on the status quo of how to survive and grieve. On July 10, 2012, Jessica Lee Peterson woke up as a single mother of three complicated creatures named Amara, Sophie, and Cecilia. By the end of that bright summer day, she had empty arms and broken dreams due to domestic violence. Her journey of survival would start from the deepest pit of despair, a world in which her daughters had been murdered by their father. This is her story about the people she made, how they were taken from the world, and how she survived without them.

Jessica was not alone in her grief. The small-town Wisconsin community the girls had grown up in was rocked to its core and rose up to support her family. Her battles would take her from court rooms to playgrounds to the edges of the world. Tragedy and suffering are endemic in this world, but Jessica shows how it can be overcome by grace and love.

Author Bio:

Jessica Lee Peterson is, first and foremost, a mother who has built her life around raising children. While developing her family, she also pursued a career in social work. She has been a licensed social worker since 2001, helping people and their families navigate complex systems and work through the hardships of life. In July of 2012, Jessica lost her three daughters Amara, Sophie, and Cecilia to domestic violence. Since then, she has used her grief as fuel to make the world a better place, embracing a philosophy of choosing light over darkness.

She works for Washington County as an adult protection investigator and resides in River Falls, Wisconsin with her husband Matthew, stepdaughters Ellianna and Maya, and their children Trinity and Flint. You can find Jessica at her website:

Category/Genre: True Crime Memoir

Page Count: 238 Pages

Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Ebook

ISBNs: Hardcover: 978-1-951375-76-8; Trade Paperback: 978-1-951375-77-5;

Ebook: 978-1-951375-78-2

Prices: Hardcover: $25.99; Trade Paperback $15.99; Ebook: $8.99

Advance Reviews:

“In a world where tragedy looms and grief is inevitable, we must all find a way to thrive. In her heartfelt true crime memoir, Thistles & Thorns, Jessica Lee Peterson shares her dark tale of living with a dangerous, narcissistic man and the courage and strength it takes to move on after her entire life is shattered. A true survivor’s story that you will not forget. Well worth the read!”

—Edward S. Scott, Author of Dark Daze & Foggy Nights and Detective of Ashwaubenon Public Safety, Retired

Thistles and Thorns recalls the tragic events of Jessica Lee Peterson’s life in the most uplifting way. She reminded me that even in the face of grief, we can heal, survive, and continue living.”

—Jeanne Gruehn, Brown Deer Police Officer (Retired)

“How does someone recover from the unthinkable? One heartbreaking, unflinchingly humane answer mourns and defiantly lives within these pages. Jessica Lee Peterson bravely and honestly shares the horror and hope of going on.”

—Paul Tremblay, Author of A Head Full of Ghosts

“Jessica Lee Peterson tells a heartbreaking story of unimaginable shock and unthinkable grief after her three children are murdered by their father. A story of survival with unseen wounds that never heal.”

C. C. Harrison, Award-winning Mystery Author of Death by G-String: A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery

“I give Jessica Lee Peterson a huge amount of credit for sharing some very private moments with the world in her book, Thistles & Thorns. It takes a strong person and a bonded family to share about some of those harder moments. Jessica is an incredibly strong woman and I am in awe of her ability to dig deep and find the drive to move forward.”

—Billi Jo Baneck, Brown County, Wisconsin 911 Dispatcher Supervisor

Thistles & Thorns by Jessica Lee Peterson is a gut-wrenching true crime story of the horrendous murders of three beautiful little girls. Her girls. But, the book goes beyond these murders, delving into how a mother can survive such a catastrophe and maintain her faith in her fellow humans. This is a must read, for not only true crime fans, but readers seeking to renew their faith in humankind, as well as a testament to a mother’s resilience.”

—Steve Daniels, High-Risk Parole Agent, Retired, and True Crime Author

“Jessica Lee Peterson's story is an intimate and raw look into her life as a mother. It is a collage of sharp fragments and soft pieces, threaded together by a mother's eternal love and commitment to her children. Jessica beautifully weaves a tapestry of memories, interchanging fibers of warmth and humor with loss and grief. Avoid the temptation to pretend the book is fiction, you will come to love Jessica and her girls too much to cheat them of this. Let the words seep into your bones and allow your heart to swell even in knowing it will inevitably create more shards as it shatters; as a mother does, Jessica will stitch the pieces together again, though never in the same way that it was. Thistles & Thorns is a testament to the healing power of community and a reminder that there is life beyond grief if we dare to keep living.”

—Callie J. Trautmiller, Award-winning Author of Becoming American

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