Tag Archives: young adult

A YA superhero breath of fresh air from the pen of TJ Klune

TJ ExtraordinariesThe Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think if I was a teenager, queer, or had grown up under difficult circumstances, this book would be like a breath of fresh air, a lifebelt in the sea of turmoil and something to bring hope and a feeling of “normalcy” as it is an encouraging homage to the great superhero stories of the Golden Era of Comic Books.

For Nick, his fanfiction is something vitally important, a connection to the Extraordinary he has a huge crush on and there were lots of “Superman/Lois Lane” vibes in his queering of the relationship between Shadow Star and a character who may be just a tiny bit like Nick.

It’s TJ Klune, so there is all the hilarity and wonderful use of language you’d expect to find in any book from this author. And, because it’s TJ Klune, there’s so many more layers and depth to the story being told.

It’s YA superhero fiction so as a 50-year-old woman, I’m not the key demographic for reading it, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t relate to the struggles Nick goes through in his day-to-day life as he juggles with his best friend (and possible love of his so-far very short life) Seth, his unfailing desire to become an Extraordinary, his ADHD, and his dad’s fears.

The relationship at the heart of this teen romance is just a hug in a sweetie wrapper. The depiction of how the ADHD affects everything Nick does felt honest and true to me even though I am not experienced with the condition myself, I have friends with atypical children and it rang similar to their lives.

It ends with a cliffhanger, as this is a trilogy of books being published by TOR Teen, and it didn’t surprise me as this is basically your typical Sci-Fi/Fantasy superhero book – but queered up, which I absolutely love. I love that this book will be on the shelves of all the major bookstores not hidden away in some online only corner of the internet.

I love that a big five publisher, (and the most respected name in Sci-Fi/Fantasy publishing in the industry), picked this series up and is putting all its considerable weight behind it. For any teenager wondering if they’re ever going to see themselves represented in a superhero book, The Extraordinaries is that book.

ARC kindly received from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

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New Release Blitz: Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? |Andy V. Roamer

The Pizza Chronicles #1

Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Blurb

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules.

Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.

Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole.

But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Excerpt

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One—Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Why can’t life be like pizza?

I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.

What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.

Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.

I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.

And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?

I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.

What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess.

Mom always tried to comfort me. “Nesirūpink,” she would say. “Esi gabus. Kai užaugsi, visiems nušluostysi nuosis.” We talk Lithuanian at home. Translated, that sentence means, “Don’t worry. You’re smart. When you grow up, you’ll show them.” Actually, not “you’ll show them,” but “you’ll wipe all their noses.” Lithuanians have a funny way of expressing themselves. Not sure I aspire to wiping anyone’s nose when I get older, but that’s what they say.

Whatever. I’m determined to put all that behind me. I’m starting a new life. My new life. Today was the first day of high school. I’m going to Boston Latin School. You have to take an exam to go there, so it’s full of smart kids. Besides smart kids, it has heavy-duty history too. It was founded in 1635, a year before Harvard. They already gave us a speech about that.

And about pressure. The pressure to succeed with all this history breathing down our necks. Pressure, ha! Doesn’t scare me. I know all about pressure. I’ve gotten pressure from cretinous bullies at school. I get it from cretinous Lith a-holes, who Mom and Dad keep pushing me to hang around with because they say it’s important to be part of the immigrant community. And I even get pressure from cretinous jerks in the neighborhood.

Cretinous. A good word. That’s something else about me. I like words. Real words and made-up ones. There’s something cool about them. Yeah, yeah, I know what people would say. You think words are cool? Kid, you’ve got more problems than you thought.

Well, I’m sorry. I do think words are cool. There’s something fun about making them up or learning a new one. Kind of unlocks something in the world. And I like the world despite all my worrying. It can be an okay place sometimes.

Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind.

The first person I met at school today was Carole. Carole Higginbottom. She’s in my homeroom. She was sitting in the first row, first seat, and I was sitting right behind her. We started talking. She’s from West Roxbury, too, which is where we live.

West Roxbury is part of Boston. You have to live somewhere in Boston in order to go to Latin school. West Roxbury is a nice neighborhood, for the most part, with houses, trees, grass, and people going to work and coming home. Kind of an all-American place, I guess. We used to live in a different, tougher part of Boston, but Mom and Dad moved away from there because they said the neighborhood was getting too rough. They promised I wouldn’t get beat up so much in West Roxbury. I don’t know. West Roxbury is better, but I still have gotten a few black-and-blue marks with “made in West Roxbury” on them, so as far as I’m concerned it isn’t any perfect place either.

Carole lives in another part of West Roxbury, near Centre Street, which is the main street in the area. People like to hang out there. Mom says that part of West Roxbury is a little dicey. (Mom thinks a lot of neighborhoods are too dicey. Maybe that’s where I get my worrying from.) Anyway, Carole sure doesn’t seem dicey. As a matter of fact, she’s a little goofy. Tall and skinny with red hair, red cheeks, and a million freckles. And she has a really sharp nose that curves up like those special ski slopes you see in the Olympics. But I get the feeling she’s smart. She says she likes science. That’s good because I might need help with science. I’m better with other subjects like history and English.

Our homeroom teacher is Mr. Bologna, Carmine Bologna. He’s a little scary with slicked-back dark hair and even darker eyes that stare at you forever. He looks like he’s part of the organization we’re not supposed to talk about—you know, the scary one from Italy that’s into murder, racketeering, and drugs. Two guys were horsing around in the back of the class and Mr. Bologna came right up to them, said a few words under his breath, and just stared at them. Boy, did they settle down fast. I’m no troublemaker, but I’ll really have to watch myself. Don’t want to deal with the Bologna stare if I can help it.

Today was mostly about walking around, learning about our subjects, and meeting teachers. Besides all the regular subjects, I have to take Latin. I don’t have anything against it per se, but is it really necessary to learn a dead language? And then there’s the teacher, Mr. Aniso. He’s kind of light in his loafers. That’s another new phrase I learned recently. It refers to gay guys, and Mr. Aniso is so gay it hurts. I just hope he can’t tell anything about me. I don’t wave my wrist around the way he does, do I?

Yeah, that’s something else I have to come to terms with. I might be heading in that direction. Yeah, me. I can hardly believe it. Me! Why? It can’t be true, can it? I’ve been praying to God, asking Him not to make me gay, but I don’t think He’s listening. If He exists, that is. Maybe He’s not answering because He doesn’t exist.

I don’t know. People on TV and in books say being gay is okay. Movie stars and rock stars are gay. There are gay mayors and other gay political types. That’s fine for them, but they don’t live with my family. Mom’s a heavy-duty Catholic. Dad’s a macho, “what-me-cry?” kind of guy. And my younger brother, Ray, well, Ray probably doesn’t care one way or another, but he doesn’t count anyway since he hates everybody. And then there are all those Lith immigrants, the community that’s so important to Mom and Dad. Most of them are so Old World and conservative. I don’t think being gay would go down well with them.

Not that I am gay for certain. I’m just saying it’s crossed my mind because…well, because I think about guys sometimes. And I notice them. Notice how they look when they’re coming down the street. Notice their eyes or their hair or the way they move. Just notice them.

Oh, I notice girls, too, but something about guys is different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think about them as much or maybe more than girls. And I want to be with them. Is that normal? What’s normal anyway? To be honest, I’m so inexperienced. Never dated. Never even kissed anyone. Not like that anyway. No, I’ve spent my time worrying about communism, terrorism, and global warming. Like I said, I’ve always felt a little out of step with the rest of humanity.

Dealing with all this is just too much. To be nervous about things the way I am. To be speaking a language most people haven’t heard of. To have a strange name. To wear glasses and look nerdy. And now I might be gay? It’s all too confusing. I might as well start on antidepressants, or something stronger, right now.

But no. I try to look on the bright side of things. Take Carole for instance. She seems nice and fun, and maybe we’ll be friends. And if she likes me, I can’t be too weird, can I? I guess I’ll find out. I better not think about it. There’s enough to worry about as it is. I just have to take a breath and focus on my homework. Yeah, we got homework already. At least that’s one thing I’m good at. And when I go to Joe’s, well, life’s not so bad, at least while I’m eating my chicken and cheese or super jalapeno slice.

About the Author

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats.

This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships.

He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

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Anniversary Blitz: The Aviary by Emily Shore

The Aviary | Emily Shore

The Uncaged Series #1

AviaryAnniversaryBlitz

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing

Publication date: March 5th 2019

Buy Links:

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Blurb

“Gentlemen, we have a special treat for you today. Feast your eyes on this pure-blooded beauty!”

Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding to protect her from this exact moment. In a world where beauty is bought and sold on the streets like a corporate commodity, Serenity’s natural assets are more like liabilities. Despite her parents’ best efforts, she’s been taken—ripped from her home and the only life she’s ever known—to find herself on sale to the highest bidder. And that bidder?

Enigmatic and dangerous, Luc is the director of The Aviary—an elite museum where girls are displayed as living art by day…and cater to the lascivious whims of the highest bidder by night. In this elaborate and competitive world, girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale, and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.

Luc comes to idolize Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time—The Swan. In no time, she becomes one of the most coveted exhibits in Aviary history. When she discovers Luc holds the key to finding her parents, she must learn to play The Swan to perfection…to win his heart and earn his trust. But she doesn’t anticipate falling for him in the process.

Now she faces an impossible choice: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents—or become Luc’s Swan for good and lose her identity forever.

I-Am-Serenity

Excerpt

On the way over in his self-driving-limousine, which is Family-branded so they have immunity, Luc gave me a digital tour of his Aviary, but seeing the building from the vehicles one-way windows was completely different than up close. Against the darkness, it was like a diamond sitting in a bed of ash. Grand spotlights and high-tech holographic images of birds light the entrance.

Now, it just looks like a giant glass dollhouse. From the observation deck within the domed ceiling of the Aviary where I stand with Luc, I stare down at the men flooding the lobby as they stray to girl-encrusted exhibits. If they pay more, they will advance to the second level. The ones with deep pockets continue to the third where the highest-ranking girls are.

It shouldn’t impress me, but it does.

About The Author

Emily

Emily Shore is a MN author with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metro State University and was a grand prize winner of #PitchtoPublication. She has worked with both editors and agents in the publishing industry.

Her anti-trafficking books, The Uncaged Series, found their home at Clean Teen Publishing. For every sale, proceeds return to trafficking rescue through Women At Risk, International.

Throughout the years, Emily has connected with rescue organizations and survivors of sex-trafficking and injects the truths she’s learned into her books for youth. She loves motivational speaking on the issue of sex-trafficking and always hopes for more speaking events in schools, churches, and libraries.

Please contact her on her website if you are interested in hearing her speak.

Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two daughters and her fur-baby cats, Hatter and Bunny.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway

1st Prize: $50 Amazon Gift

2nd Prize: One set of the full book series (US shipping only)

3rd Prize: One set of the series in ebook format

and a runner up prize: one signed Aviary copy with postcard

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Review Tour: Shake The Stars by V. L. Locey

Shake The Stars | V. L. Locey

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Sloan J Designs

Publisher: Gone Writing Publishing

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

Spending time in the Poconos with his family was the last thing Dane Forrester wanted to do over the summer. He had dreams of spending his last break touring Europe and gathering story ideas for his upcoming creative writing classes before heading to college.

Maybe even finding that elusive first love in a small café in Paris, or along the Rhine, or even in a sultry villa in Italy. But no, he was stuck at the Silver Fir Lodge with his family where his dreams of romance and passion would wither and die a slow painful death, or so he imagined.

When all seemed lost, the budding wordsmith is saved—in more than one sense—by Khalid Novak, a lifeguard at the lodge’s pool. Khalid is two years older, a bit more sophisticated, and the most incredibly alluring thing Dane has ever seen.

The two young men find themselves joyously wound in a searing romance that teaches Dane that love can be wildly intense yet fleeting so one should revel in it when the discovery is made.

Can this summer romance survive the chill of autumn as well as the winds of time? 

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About The Author

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USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Doctor Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.)

She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

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Release Blitz: Shake The Stars by V. L. Locey

Shake The Stars | V. L. Locey

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Sloan J Designs

Publisher: Gone Writing Publishing

shake the stars.jpg

Blurb

Spending time in the Poconos with his family was the last thing Dane Forrester wanted to do over the summer. He had dreams of spending his last break touring Europe and gathering story ideas for his upcoming creative writing classes before heading to college.

Maybe even finding that elusive first love in a small café in Paris, or along the Rhine, or even in a sultry villa in Italy. But no, he was stuck at the Silver Fir Lodge with his family where his dreams of romance and passion would wither and die a slow painful death, or so he imagined.

When all seemed lost, the budding wordsmith is saved—in more than one sense—by Khalid Novak, a lifeguard at the lodge’s pool. Khalid is two years older, a bit more sophisticated, and the most incredibly alluring thing Dane has ever seen.

The two young men find themselves joyously wound in a searing romance that teaches Dane that love can be wildly intense yet fleeting so one should revel in it when the discovery is made.

Can this summer romance survive the chill of autumn as well as the winds of time? 

About The Author

Copy of Copy of Copy of Locey Logo_FB Profile Image

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Doctor Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.)

She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Beautifully written tale of first love

41X23Z9TxnLA Breath Apart by Christina Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful example of the young adult romance that Christina Lee has such a knack for.

It’s beautifully written, Josh and Brennan’s emotions, fears and hopes are lovingly laid out in an exploration of the joys and pains of falling in love for the first time.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to go and spent a fair bit of time waiting for the hammer to drop in some way, but it was still a gut twister when it eventually came.

But, as this is a romance, I knew there’d be a journey back to happiness and I loved how that was done in a way which made perfect sense.

It’s sweet and full of passion and I loved it.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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New Release Blitz: The Women Of Dauphine by Deb Jannerson

The Women Of Dauphine | Deb Jannerson

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 10, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 55,500

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Blurb

When Cassie’s family moves into a decrepit house in New Orleans, the only upside is her new best friend. Gem is witty, attractive, and sure not to abandon Cassie—after all, she’s been confined to the old house since her murder in the ’60s.

As their connection becomes romantic, Cassie must keep more and more secrets from her religious community, which hates ghosts almost as much as it hates gays. Even if their relationship prevails over volatile parents and brutal conversion therapy, it may not outlast time.

Excerpt

The Women of Dauphine
Deb Jannerson © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
I met Gem the day we moved from the sedate suburbs to downtown New Orleans.

I had recently turned eight, and my first sight of her coincided with our first sight of the Victorian house. I’m not certain if some of my earliest memories are authentic or recreated by photos and hearsay, but that moment made for a striking mental snapshot I’ve never doubted: baroque, crumbling pink-and-ivory walls; a stylish teenaged 1960s brunette perched on the steps. I feasted my eyes upon her in the way only a curious child can. The opportunity delighted me, especially because my parents had forbidden me to stare at the young runaways clogging the sidewalk. The lost children.

I’d be leery of any Crescent City-raised kid who claimed never to have been fascinated by them. The lost children of the city streets were as diverse in origin as they were in countenance. The first I’d seen that morning had been a tap-dancing boy around my own age, gleefully calling to various “cutie-pahs” in an undetermined accent. His joy reached out to me, undisturbed by the morning’s sharp tang of whiskey and street cleaner. I might not have believed he was alone in the world, like the poor souls my parents derided, if not for the layers of sweat marks on his clothes. My parents ignored his dollar-filled top hat and turned my head away in an admonishment. This made me wonder, maybe for the first time, what kind of people they were.

Then, I saw the girl: late teens, stringy sandy hair like frayed rope, weeping with abandon without bothering to hide her face from the tourists and blue-collar shop workers. She seemed “lost,” all right; certainly, more so than the cartoon boys of Peter Pan who had introduced me to the “lost” term in the first place. I remembered the twitch in my father’s face as he snapped the TV’s power button in one fluid motion and turned to explain who the lost children of Louisiana really were.

The girl waiting at our dwelling on Dauphine Street shared a hint of the blonde crier’s defiance, but she also exuded fun. She didn’t bother to sit in the ladylike way I’d learned in church. Still, she jumped up before I reached an angle at which I could see up her green skirt—a fact I noted matter-of-factly, and with some vague sense of disappointment. I continued to examine her clothes anyway, with a youth’s comically bobbing head. I had never seen tights like that before; they were nothing but strings in a diamond pattern. And was that a Boy Scout shirt?

“Hi!” I yelled, unnecessarily since we were barely five feet apart by now. There were chuckles behind me; it seemed like my parents always laughed at me doing normal, serious things. The girl staggered backward, widening her brown-gold eyes. “What’s your name?” She glanced at my parents in something like panic, then back at me, and her face softened.

“I’m Gem.” She glanced behind me again, and I followed her gaze to my mother, situated behind the battered chain-link fence, gazing blankly at our narrow new house. My father caught up, breaking through her reverie as he bustled through the space where a gate should be and pulled our keys out of his suit pocket.

The girl—Gem—stumbled off the stairs and several steps to the right, which is to say, at the edge of the property. Her eyes followed my parents carefully as they entered our new home. Obviously, I didn’t know it at the time, but she was waiting to see if they’d notice her as I had.

Perhaps all houses came with a pretty girl, or maybe she was moving out. “Dad, can Gem come inside?”

My mother turned around in the corridor first. “What, Cassandra?”

“Can she come in with me?” I pointed at Gem and then grabbed her hand. She made a short sound of surprise at my touch.

My mother rolled her eyes elaborately. It didn’t take much to annoy her, especially where I was concerned. She turned to my father, hissing, “Isn’t she a bit old for this?” I could hear the disgust.

My father, unusually jovial today, held up a hand, and my mother went quiet. “It’s okay.” To me: “Sure, little one. Let’s all go in and look around.”

Gem’s expression had gone both stunned and amused. It was a face I’d come to know well and love: the face of a person thrust into a strange scenario she was more than game enough to explore.

“You never told me your name.” Gem flopped into the floral armchair across the room from my bed, then, with a self-conscious glance at me, maneuvered herself into the position my old teacher had promoted as “proper posture.” Unfamiliar furniture crowded the room, from the molded wooden headboard to the dresser’s little blue dollhouse. I missed my room back home, and despite what my father had promised, this didn’t seem “even better” and I could still “remember what came before.” At least I had a new friend already.

“Cassie.” My parents insisted on using the full “Cassandra,” but since they were downstairs, I might as well use the moniker I preferred, the one that hadn’t proved too unwieldy for my classmates to manage.

She nodded. “I’m Gem.”

“You said that already!”

She began to smile, raising her eyebrows. “It’s still true.”

I realized I liked her already. Not only did she dress cool; she struck me as funny, while also, somehow, profound. Had Gem done it on purpose, and anyway, why didn’t people introduce themselves more than once? Even my parents seemed to know she was special, considering they hadn’t made her take off her boots on the rug inside the doorway. Sure, they had ignored her, and so maybe they did not like her, but they must have respect for her. Before this, respect was something I had only seen them demand.

My mind became full of questions, not least of which was why she was talking to someone like me. I settled on the most important-seeming one: “Are you going to stay here?”

Gem smiled again, but this time, one end of her mouth turned down. “Yeah. I’ve been living in this room for a long time, and I’m not about to be driven out.”

“That’s great!” Both hands flew to my mouth, and, sure enough, my mother shouted, equally loudly, from directly below my floor: “Indoor voice, Cassandra!”

“I mean,” I added, “I’ve always wanted a sister.”

“Well, I’m not really your sister.” Gem shrugged and glanced away, her soft brown hair flying in a curtain over her face. “I guess it’ll be like sharing a room with a friend.”

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About the Author

Deb Jannerson is the author of the books of poetry Rabbit Rabbit (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Thanks for Nothing (Finishing Line Press, 2018), available wherever books are sold. The Women of Dauphine is her debut YA novel.

She won the 2017 So to Speak Nonfiction Contest for an essay about queer intimacy and PTSD, the 2018 Flexible Persona Editors’ Prize (and a Pushcart nomination) for a work of flash fiction about gruesome at-work injuries, and a Two Sisters Publishing prize for a story about switching bodies with her cat.

More than one hundred of her pieces have been featured in anthologies and magazines, including viral articles for Bitch Media. Deb lives in New Orleans with her wife.

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