Expected Publication: April 2014
For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.
When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reservation, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.
Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought.
~First Day of School~
I head off across the lawn, sending a quick wave over my shoulder. Ezra’s car rumbles to life and the sound of the engine slowly fades as they drive away.
Kids rush past me, their voices ringing out as they catch up after a summer away, talk about upcoming school activities, and show off their new clothes. I hear footsteps behind me, and a second later a girl with glossy blond hair falls into step beside me.
“Was that Ezra Rhodes who just dropped you off?”
And hello to you too. “Yeah. He lives next door to me, and he’s my sister’s boyfriend.”
Her green eyes sweep over me curiously, and my skin prickles. “So you’re Gabriella?”
Oh great. Thirty seconds in and someone already knows who I am…was. So much for my reputation not following me to school. I don’t remember seeing her on the beach this summer, but then I wasn’t exactly sober much of the time. “Ella.”
“I’m Kyla. I didn’t get to many of the parties on your side of the island this summer, but I heard about them. You dated Chris, right?”
I stumble slightly at his name, but recover quickly. “Yeah, but if you don’t mind I’d really rather not talk about him.”
She wrinkles her nose. “I don’t blame you. Guy’s a jerk. You’re so much better off without him.”
I knew he was a jerk from the beginning but it didn’t stop me from going out with him. We fooled around some, but when I wouldn’t have sex with him he tried to force himself on me. Luckily I got away with nothing more than a ripped dress, but the whole experience had shaken me pretty badly and was something I tried to avoid thinking about. I know a lot of other girls aren’t as lucky as I was, but it was the wake-up call I needed to stop my destructive behaviour.
I suppress a shudder. Kyla and I have reached the front doors now and I’m anxious to find the office then get to class.
Kyla reaches out and blocks the handle of the door I’m reaching for. “I’m sorry. My friends tell me I don’t make a very good first impression.” She laughs lightly and shrugs one shoulder in a ‘what can you do?’ sort of way. “I’m not gonna lie, I heard some stories about you this summer, but I’m not one to judge.”
She opens the door and ushers me through before she keeps talking. “Anyway, I just wanted to say hey so that you can start your day knowing at least one person here.”
“Well…thanks. I appreciate it.”
She beams at me. “No problem.” Someone calls her name from down the hall and she waves before signaling for them to wait. “I’ll probably see you at lunch, ’kay? My friends and I sit at one of the long tables by the window if you need someone to sit with.” She gives me a little finger wave before hurrying to join a group of five or six girls who begin to squeal and hug each other when Kyla joins them.
I give my head a quick shake. Last year Kyla would have been exactly the type of girl I’d have wanted to be friends with. I would have taken advantage of her popularity and tried to get in with her group, even if I didn’t really like them. When Charlotte left school to take care of Mom, I started hanging out with her two best friends Alexis and Bianca, who welcomed me into their large group of friends at school. From there I met the smaller group of kids who cared more about skipping class, smoking, drinking, and other things. Everything went downhill from there, and I know I can’t let that happen again. Not here, not now. Not ever again.
I head for the office and get my schedule and a map from one of the secretaries. There’s a sticky note on my timetable that says the school counselor wants to meet with me during my free period later this morning. Great. Hopefully it’s nothing more than a ‘Welcome to Angel Island Secondary School’ pep talk, but I highly doubt it. More likely it’s an ‘I hear you let your life fall apart last year and that your mother died at the beginning of summer…let’s talk about that’ deal.
Something to look forward to.
Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece. She's a hopeless romantic, an unapologetic eavesdropper (occupational hazard), an equally unapologetic squeeing fangirl, and a lover of swoonworthy book and TV characters. For more on Marie and her books please visit http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca. She also loves to chat with fellow book lovers, so feel free to tweet her @SweetMarie any time!
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