When Blue Mancini’s mother picked her name, it ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A year ago, Blue’s brother, Jack, was involved in a car accident that killed the father of her classmate, Maya Rodriguez. Luckily for Jack, he got out of a manslaughter charge and into a plea bargain thanks to the top-notch lawyer hired by Blue’s wealthy parents.
The fallout is now affecting Blue as Maya returns to school determined to carve out a pound of flesh from the only member of the Mancini family she can reach. On top of that, Blue has a demanding mother, a father who’s never around, a drama-addicted best friend, and a secretive new guy who’s determined to make Blue his own personal cheer-up project. It’s a perfect storm of misery.
When Maya’s social media taunts and in-person digs finally push Blue to retaliate, they find themselves in afterschool detention and forced into a project meant to foster cooperation and civility. As the layers of their tangled drama unravel, Blue learns more about Maya’s life—and her own sense of privilege—when secrets are revealed that cast a new perspective on everything in Blue’s world.
Blue and Jules
My stomach tightens so hard I feel like I’m going to puke. I glance at my phone again, and the texts from last night are still there.
Maya’s back at school
my mom saw her mom at Target
Maya is back
did u see her pic on IG
Did you hear about Maya?
I shove the phone back down in the pocket of my coat and I blow on my fingers to get them warm. I should have remembered my gloves but the whole morning is a blur and I had to get out of my house and now I’m sitting in my car in the cold and I can’t bring myself to turn the key in the ignition.
The phone comes out again. I have got to get a grip on myself. I know better, but I open up Instagram and find her picture. She looks good. Well, better than the last time I saw her, which wasn’t a great time for her. Or me.
Last night, I stayed up trying not to obsess about this and nursing a throbbing hand—which makes me tired and wishing more than anything I could go back to bed and forget the rest of this semester. I’m going to be late for school if I don’t get it together. The phone drops from my hand when a fist slams repeatedly into my window, scaring the hell out of me.
“Jules!” I shriek. “What the—”
“Got tired of waiting,” she says, opening the door and sliding into the passenger seat. “You better get moving or we’ve got another unexcused tardy.”
I suppose it’s a good thing she lives four houses down, but right now I wish she lived in a neighboring town and took the bus.
“Let’s go.” I stuff my phone down into my coat pocket, trying to ignore the way it’s vibrating again. Jules’s eyes drop down, having heard it.
“So is everybody all up in your business?”
“Oh God,” I moan. “All day yesterday and still going this morning. This is such a non-event. It really is.”
“Did you see her pic?”
“Yeah, but I don’t think that was meant for me.”
Jules raises her brows. “You don’t?”
“Nah,” I say with what I hope is a careless shrug.
“Back at Audubon and nobody’s gonna keep me down,” Jules reads aloud while looking at her phone. Obviously, she had the picture open. Maya, in her bedroom, wearing a blue hoodie and smiling, both thumbs up. Her hair is longer now and she looks really pretty.
“I think she means more like, the world in general isn’t going to keep her down,” I tell her.
“I guess,” Jules agrees, only she doesn’t sound like she agrees even a little bit. “Lauren says Maya’s got Poly Sci third block with Jones.”
“Well then,” I force a smile as I start the car. “I guess we’ll find out if my theory is right.”
“She better not think she can start something.”
“Jules.” I give her a look. “Drop it, okay? I mean, she and I barely know each other.”
“I don’t think that’s true anymore.”
“No, it’s still true.” I reverse out of the driveway so fast, Jules rocks sideways in her seat.
“Whoa! Don’t go psycho on me! I’m just sayin’!”
“And I’m just saying; drop it. I’ve got enough of a feeding frenzy going on around me without you hopping on the boat, too.”
“You really don’t think that pic was meant for you?”
I stomp the brake just as we’re moving forward, and Jules rocks in the seat again.
“You honestly think I’m trying to keep Maya down? Like I don’t want her to succeed? In spite of—in spite of everything?”
Jules holds up her hands, finally realizing, I guess, that my nerves are a jangling, dangling mess.
“I’m not busting on you. I’m on your side, remember?”
“There aren’t any sides here,” I remind her with a sigh. “Not for Maya, or for me. Neither one of us had a thing to do with it.”
“Yeah, but dude—your brother killed her Dad.”
I put the car in gear and drive.
L.E. DeLano comes equipped with a “useless” Theatre degree that has opened doors for her in numerous ways. Though mostly raised in New Mexico, she now lives in Pennsylvania with two adventurous kids and two ridiculous cats. When she’s not writing (which is almost never), she’s binge-watching Netflix and planning road trips.
Her debut novel, TRAVELER was selected as a Keystone To Reading Secondary Book Award finalist for school year 2018-19 by the Keystone State Reading Association (KSRA) and also voted one of The 20 Most Beautiful Books in the World for 2017 by MTV UK.