The Eyes Have It

THE BOOK: The Eyes Have It.

PUBLISHED IN: September 2019

THE AUTHOR: Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

THE EDITOR: Dog Ear Publishing

THE PUBLISHER: This new novel by Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse pairs young love with current events in an unforgettable journey exploring family loyalty and the hope for a better life.

SUMMARY: SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – High school senior Olivia had no idea that requesting a senior picture from soccer star Ethan Alexander would change her life. It’s as if she’s been struck by lightning when she’s the focus of his megawatt smile. The Eyes Have It tells the story of the young lovers and an event that forever shatters their world.

In “The Eyes Have It,” Olivia and Ethan start a whirlwind romance, becoming absorbed with their new relationship and shutting out the rest of the world. When her father finally meets Ethan, he seems to take an instant dislike to him, leaving the teens puzzled by his behavior. Her father is typically an easy-going man.

Ethan’s family, on the other hand, is much more welcoming, including his Muslim mother, who once lived in Saudi Arabia. The exception is his older brother Jamail, who seems committed to converting Ethan to Islam from Catholicism and has nothing good to say about Olivia.

During a traditional family outing with Olivia’s family and Ethan, disaster strikes, and dozens of lives are affected. Although Ethan, Olivia and her brother are not injured, things will change dramatically in the aftermath of the horrific event, a terrorist attack. As authorities begin to pepper both families with questions, long-held secrets eventually come to light, rippling through the two families with devastating emotional impact.

“The Eyes Have It” takes readers on a journey that could play out in any number of U.S. cities, drawing readers in with its relentless action. Whether the young lovers can survive what life has thrown their way remains to be seen. But sacrifice and love of family can’t always guarantee a happy ending.

THE BACK STORY: My first time at the Saratoga Race Course was many years ago, but post 9/11. I understand security has improved in recent years, but at the time of my visit, people dragged in coolers and rolling luggage presumably filled with treats and entertainment for the day between races—and no one looked inside the containers. The next time I went, several years later, the visitors were checked, but employees were waved through. I got to thinking, “what if?”

WHY THIS TITLE: Eyes play a big role! In the first scene with Olivia and Ethan, she’s fascinated by his eyes. And there’s another connection that I can’t share, since it gives away part of the story line!

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a Romeo and Juliet type story brought into the 21st century. Unlike my previous novels, it doesn’t have an unambiguously happy ending. It’s bittersweet, even a bit sad.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Lots of favorable (4 & 5 star) reviews on Amazon. Here are a few other review excerpts:

“Lajeunesse constructs a powder keg of family secrets, featuring plenty of dramatic irony…. Olivia remains a vulnerable and realistic heroine throughout, and Lajeunesse pays close attention to her emotional oscillations between yearning and disappointment. A fiery family drama. . . .” — “Kirkus Reviews”

“With her new novel, Dawn Lajeunesse proves she understands the human heart as well as any writer working today, and she knows how to make a reader’s heart thump hard—with anticipation, with sorrow, with fear and with joy. The Eyes Have It is an intelligent, poignant, rewarding experience.” — Mark Spencer, author of A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House.

“Fast paced, engaging, heart-wrenching, all describe THE EYES HAVE It, a third novel for author Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse.  Tender, as first loves often are-a young couple’s sweet romance is besought by old family secrets and the volatility of religious extremism tears this American family apart. The characters are so real. I could feel Olivia’s heart beating.  We just might see “The Eyes Have It” go to film one day.” — Review by Author Gloria Waldron Hukle, author of historical fiction.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse grew up in Troy, NY, and hoped to turn her love of English into a writing career. But her guidance counselor and parents had other, more practical ideas. In those days most girls became a nurse or a teacher. She chose nursing. She never made it through surgery without passing out. Great career planning, huh?

After years in health care she pursued her writing passion. She says, “I create stories from ordinary lives, about relationships, families and other life connections. I love animals, and my novels usually include them. Recently I’ve renewed my connection with my Armenian heritage, unburying the history of the Armenian church and its members near where I grew up for a planned historical fiction.

“Married to Dennis for over half my lifetime, I’m fortunate to have found a man who’s a great friend and playmate. We live with our energetic Russell Terrier, Dubby, in South Glens Falls, NY.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: My Amazon book page ( has a “look inside” feature. Readers can check out the first few chapters there!

LOCAL OUTLETS: Copies of my paperback are available at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY. They can be ordered at any bookstore using the ISBN: 978-145757-110-7.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon ( or Barnes & Noble ( The online sources have soft and hard cover as well as e-books.

PRICE: Soft cover $14.99; e-book $4.99.


Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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