by Kristi Strong
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release date: July 30th 2014
Purchase: Paperback | Kindle | Nook
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Starting a new life is never easy, but Alyssa Doe has turned it into an art form. Abandoned by her parents at age ten, six years in foster care has taught Alyssa how to get through life the hard way.
Now sixteen and growing desperate for a stable life, Alyssa finds herself puzzled by her newest keeper, twenty-five year old Jessica Sona. A feisty woman who does not accept no for an answer, Jessica’s insistence and passion for safety, family, and unconditional love begin to break down Alyssa’s walls and bring her hope, a dangerous emotion.
Can such a thing as family and love exist for a girl whose birth name is Doe, or will Alyssa be forever left finding keepers?
The rubber swing creaked as she swung, cold twilight air rushing against Alyssa’s face as she gave Brianna time to find the words to describe her feelings. A creak sounded from the swing beside her, and she heard Brianna take a deep breath.
“I don’t know what to do, Alli.”
“About what?” Alyssa glanced at her, noticing that her friend had dug a small hole in the dirt under the swing, and now sat with her cheek pressed against the chilled metal.
She shrugged, the herringbone pattern of her thick wool coat rising and falling with the motion. “Everything. School. Friends. Life. It’s just so damn hard, and I don’t know why. Sometimes just breathing is such a struggle.”
Alyssa remained silent a moment, pushing her swing back and forth with her feet, trying to find the right words to help.
Brianna wiped away a tear and leaned back in the swing. “You know what, it’s stupid. Just pretend I didn’t say anything. Everything is fine.”
“Hey,” Alyssa gently pulled on the chain of Brianna’s swing to bring her closer. “If it has you this upset, then it’s not stupid. Definitely not nothing, which means it’s something. And you are totally not fine right now.”
“I have no right, none at all, to talk to you about life being difficult.” She gave a bitter laugh that turned into a sob and swatted at another tear that dropped from her eye. “That’s what makes it harder though. I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and yet ...”
“Bri,” Alyssa began.
“No!” she interrupted. “I know it’s true. I have two loving parents in a committed marriage, and a big house, and pets, and a room filled with clothes, and pretty much anything I ever wanted, within reason. I’ve never had to worry about having food to eat, or clothes to wear, or boys touching me without permission. It’s not like I’m rich, and going to be driving a Benz or anything, but I know that when I get my license I’ll have a car to drive and parents who will let me drive it and be able to call it my own.”
Brianna paused, and Alyssa could see the metal chain shaking from the trembling of her friend’s body. She reached out and held out her hand, palm up, in the air next to her. Brianna reached out and took it, linking her fingers with Alyssa and holding tight, as if it were a rope ready to pull her to shore.
Fixing broken computers, wrangling a very spirited little toddler, and creating new fantasy worlds are all parts of the average day for Kristi Strong. While she has called Virginia her home for two decades, her head has rested in two countries, three states, and far too many houses to count. She was more than happy to give up her nomadic lifestyle and settle down with her husband, daughter, cat and chinchilla.
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