Gabriel & Esther


Sometime the distance between suicidal despair and freedom seems like an impossible dream.

From early in her teens, Leah Rebecca struggled with clinical depression. This mental anguish dragged her through more than two decades of crippling despair. Her life was filled with reckless and destructive choices. If only we knew the distant consequences that cannot possibly be anticipated at the moment of our choices.

Inspired by a true story, Gabriel and Esther carries you on a journey of heart and spirit. Diary entries, letters, and Leah’s present day narrative immerse you in this secret story, told from pages hidden from view for over five decades.

As Leah Rebecca’s depressions peaked, GOD stepped in so tangibly that Leah abandons her suicide plan and awaits the healing GOD has promised will be hers.

This woman, plagued by fear, hopelessness, and longing for the release of death, is slowly transformed into a woman of creativity, purpose, and freedom. Healing and redemption prove triumphant.

Gabriel & Esther A Novel Inspired by A True Story by Toni Lisa Brown

An Excerpt from Gabriel & Esther

“… Are there answers to life’s mysteries? If there are, it is not I who can crack concrete and see into their illusive meaning. No, I stand as a reticent girl\woman, wondering why it is my friends, family, and colleagues who lead safe and meaningful lives, while mine is one of quietly torturous despair. My fear is that my despair will become so intolerable that I’ll be sent away permanently to dwell with the truly deranged.

… I feel like a giant embarrassment … a drain, a drag, a dark and ugly canker sore that sucks in the air she doesn’t deserve to breathe and takes up space she doesn’t deserve to claim.

  And then there’s the literal cloud that descends and colors my world a dingy, smoggy, stale, pasty color of coffin gray. It’s the worst. It lets me know that depression is in full swing, and only when it starts to fade by slow-motion degree do I suspect I may make it through another round of crippling depression. You hear all of this, don’t you GOD?

Why sure you do.

…. You know what I want, GOD. I wish to fill these pages with thoughts unconnected to me. To write of the world and its complexities. To offer impressions of people and how they work. To see beyond myself, and use my fertile mind to create strings of words that are useful to other people. Is it an unfulfilled purpose? Or simply the naive wish of a girl exposed to far too many fairy tales?”



“… Samuel says he’ll handle everything and I’m not to worry about the abortion. He might as well have told me not to be brunette or short or Jewish. I have slipped into a combined state of crippling fear with an overlay of numbness.”

” … I can’t even stay with Samuel at night except on weekends because of dorm curfew rules.

This is absurd. I’m old enough to produce a baby and kill it; my high school friends who aren’t in college are old enough to be drafted and kill other kids because of international political nonsense and the global money hustle. But I’m not old enough to stay overnight in the arms of the man who just arranged my abortion.”

” … It is months after the abortion and I begin to feel an “aftermath.” I didn’t even know “aftermaths” existed because I went immediately back to my sophomore college responsibilities and pushed all thoughts of the abortion under the rug in my dorm room.

” … I realize now that denial is a lion-strong, self-protective human device. Its effectiveness is unerringly decisive. If I could have stayed in denial for the rest of my life, I might have unconsciously chosen that. But I wasn’t the one who rattled me out of denial. That was GOD’s handiwork. All His.”

” … For Pete’s sake, I’m just a teenage college student. I have plans. I have dreams and tests to study for and papers to write. A baby just wasn’t on my radar screen. Absolutely not!

I will have a baby after I have at least a couple of degrees, a husband with a bright and lucrative future, a lovely home, and a nursery painted butter-yellow with a drawer full of onesies. PERIOD.”


Critic’s Review of Gabriel & Esther

“… And then the journaling begins. To be savored like fine wine. The words of reflection will startle the reader to reflect, invoking emotion, startled tears and moments of discovery.”

“… Savor her words because they are organic, unrequited and straight from the soul.”

“… Brown speaks of the social faces we wear to hold it all firm and together like psychic Spanx. Perfectionism’s ugly toll is mainlined to this woman’s heart. What an amazing show and tell.”

“… Completely compassionate while excavating the dregs left behind of a well used life.”

“… It’s not mushy melodrama mixed with hormonal moments. It is visceral introspection shared by anyone drawing a breath. It’s healing and palpable and living. It’s what is needed to go to the next level of human maturity.”

“… The account of these journal entries creates a masterpiece of art named self discovery and perseverance. The prose paint word-pictures that confess a life fully lived and yielded to what is true and good. What a tribute to life and its many lessons. Fantastic story!”

-N. Enserat


Toni has been a speech pathologist, a para-legal and an interior designer. Although she has been writing journals since childhood, it was not until the summer of 1985 that she adopted GOD’s principal that: each of us must do what we were created to do; our talent is a gift from our Creator. No longer “just someone who writes,” Toni has exploded into a powerful writer and a person of spiritual depth.

It was depression that fueled this Jewish woman’s life-long quest for TRUTH. Toni was also indelibly stamped by the 1960’s, liberalism and her adventurous choices.

It is especially moving to experience the love, freedom and balance Toni has come to embody through finding that MESSIAH is the TRUTH and the TRUTH is what set her free. AWAKENINGS is a collection of funny, poignant and compelling stories, essays, quips and observations.

Awakenings by Toni Lisa Brown

Excerpts from Awakenings

Packaging Is Just That

“I glance into the mirror as I reach to tell of my essential self. But this reflected image is becoming less of a barometer for both reflection and evaluation. This is the image that has helped create my personality, but not my essence. This is the image that at varying points along the continuum of my forty-five year span has caused me both delight and chagrin. At six I was a graceful, saucer-eyed child who learned the rewards of being cute. But as an adolescent, the mirror’s reflection caused me to struggle with self doubt.

From pony-tails to pimples.
From doll-sized dresses to
pre-teen chubettes.

The pitfalls of less than cute caught me by surprise. And much of the succeeding years represented a struggle between wanting acceptance and not caring. I loathed social standards and the empty games they prompted me to play. As TRUTH emerged in me, I know this form to be simply a package. And I know that the core of Toni Lisa–where THE HOLY SPIRIT dwells.. is:

and is on the threshold of still more wondrous

Critic’s Review of Awakenings

Toni Lisa Brown, Author & Artist

“Ms. Brown’s book is a literary achievement. It is beautifully formatted for ease of reading. It may be a classic in its genre.”
– E. Ramon