• Jessica Cantwell

The Scars We Choose by A. Lee Hughes

Updated: Jan 23

Today I am talking to A. Lee Hughes, author of The Scars We Choose

I could go on for days about how this story has impacted me. I had to step back and give myself time to gather my thoughts and write this review. I cannot believe the similarities between my life experiences and that of the main character, Scarlet. A. Lee Hughes has plucked the essence of the people in my life and dropped them into the characters in this book. EVERYTHING, down to the exact words Faye (Scarlet’s mother) says to her, the things she does to her - WAS my life. Even the love between a boy and a girl of different races. Similarities aside, it is imperative that you know the author does not know me. She has never heard my life story and The Scars We Choose is not based on my life. What you need to know is that a theme throughout this book is the magic of destiny. The power of people uniting because it is “in the cards.” I was meant to cross paths with A. Lee Hughes. I was meant to read this book - so that the scars that I chose, can heal. This is the best book I have read this year. A. Lee Hughe’s writing is impeccable. See for yourself and read this book!

Before we begin, let’s read the synopsis for The Scars we Choose:

Scarlett Elizabeth Nell Waverly has a story to tell and it’s as big as her name. Like most stories, hers is divided into interwoven parts. The first part starts when she’s young and her family buys a beach house on the Florida Gulf Coast. That’s where she meets and falls in love with Julian Rose, a handsome biracial boy with a scarred face and a whacky, secret-keeping family. Just like her own. But not quite. Young Lizzie Nell’s family disapproves of her friendship and budding romance with Julian Rose and they take drastic measures at keeping them apart. Julian also has a story, a story as magical as his haint blue eyes, only he’s still trying to figure out where it starts and how it ends. Not long after he turns nine and learns a little about his mother’s disappearance, Julian sets out to write her messages, stuffing them inside empty rum bottles and tossing them into the Gulf. Although he doesn’t yet know it, there is magic in his words, a magic as remarkable as his connection to the little girl down the beach. As time moves on, and the two blossom into adolescence, Lizzie Nell can no longer live the life her family has chosen for her. She runs away—from school, from her unrelenting mother, and even from her name—setting out for New Orleans where she and Julian have planned to make a life together. But some things have a way of finding us, like our scars, the truth, and despondent mothers. The first book in a two-part series, The Scars We Choose is a coming-of-age story about how we define love, the ways in which we cope when overcoming adversity, and the consequences that can arise when we allow other people, places, and events to affect our decisions, and ultimately, our happiness.

J.C. - Let’s start by having you introduce yourself to our readers!

A. Lee - Hey there! I am Amanda “Mandy” Hughes and I write under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee. If you enjoy women’s and literary fiction, you might enjoy my works by the former, and if you like rom-coms and fan fiction (specifically related to the hit TV show The Office), then you might enjoy the latter. I have over three decades of writing experience and I’ve been an artist since I could hold a pencil. I’m an instructional designer in my Muggle job and a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity. I live in Georgia with my husband of 25 years and our two puppies, Indy and Kirby. I have two sons, Jalan and Devan, who have both recently moved out of the house! My nest is empty and my heart is full.

J.C. - I fell in love with The Scars We Choose. What made you come up with the idea?

A. Lee - As many authors tend to inject themselves into their work, The Scars We Choose is a story that is so very close to my own. The book’s main themes were inspired by true events and while none of the characters are actual, living people, many were crafted after them.

J.C. - The story is loosely based on your own experiences. Tell me, what is the biggest lesson you took away from what you went through?

A. Lee - Be careful the things you do around and say to children and adolescents. My life was shaped by my experiences, both positive and negative; however, much of the negative reflected in the novel might have been avoided had the adults around me been more cognizant, educated, and self-aware.

J.C. - What is one scar that you have chosen?

A. Lee - I have chosen love, no matter what that looks like.

J.C. - There is a smattering of magic in the book. Are you a believer?

A. Lee - Oh yes. Magic is everywhere, if we only seek to experience it.

J.C. - One of the many things that I have taken away from this story is that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and more. A girl with vitiligo, a boy with scars on his face, wild, unruly hair ... What is beautiful to you?

A. Lee - You named them all! But without sounding cliché, the human experience is beautiful. Instances of vulnerability, transparency, bravery, and altruism have shaped who I am and how I express myself creatively.

J.C. - Who has been your biggest support system while on this writing adventure?

A. Lee - My husband and my Tribe. My Tribe is a group of friends I met while living in Florida. They are my cheerleaders, for sure.

J.C. - Finish the sentence. In ten years I’d like to…

A. Lee - attend the opening night of The Scars We Choose as adapted for the big screen.

J.C. - You have been hard at work on book two. What can you tell us about it and all of your other work?

A. Lee - Well, all of my work features strong female lead characters, adventure, magic, and lessons on love. TSWC Book Two includes all those things, while answering the questions Scarlett posed at the ending of Book One. I’m dedicated to tying a satisfying bow around the aspects of the story left unanswered and untold.

J.C. - Lastly, where can readers find you and your work?

Readers can find all of my work on my website at

Thank you for reading about A. Lee Hughes and The Scars We Choose. Do yourself a favor and hop over to Amazon and grab a copy. Like, NOW!

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