Skip to main content

Short Story: No, I'm Not Okay


No, I’m Not Okay


September 9
I can’t believe I’m doing this again in the same stupid journal that Mom gave me last time someone died. Nonetheless, I’m pouring down my thoughts and feelings because six years ago some old guy, who claimed to be a grief counselor, told my mother that it would help. Help what? I’m not exactly sure. It certainly didn’t make me feel better about the pile of ashes that was my dad.

Ten year old me gave up the activity after a week, like most things I tried at that age. Ten year olds do what they want.

Now, though, I'm worse off because I didn't just lose a parent, I lost the parent. As in, the only surviving person who had to put up with me and my sister within five states… or anywhere.

I probably sound a little blunt, or insensitive, or maybe even disrespectful (Can you be any of these things about your own situation?), but you have to understand how stupid I feel writing about my “feelings”. To make matters worse, I honestly don't know how I feel. Sad? Sure. Angry? Maybe. Lost? Most definitely. But none of these things feels right.

I’m trying to delude myself into believing I can help myself. Ms. Martinez, our neighbor, who’s currently sitting on our couch, in my mother’s spot no less, is watching me, and my journaling seems to make her happy too. Soon, Nan will fly in from New York and turn her nose up at our cramped apartment, and I’ll wait on her. That will give me a purpose.

One thing still bothers me, though. There’s no funeral. The honest truth is that there’s just no money for it, but it was also part of Mom’s verbal will, the only kind she ever made. “When I’m gone, I just want to be gone.” She recited this every time the newscaster mentioned a death or she read the obituary in the paper. But the longer I spend staring at the beige walls of the apartment, wondering if the twitching of words just out of reach will ever go away, the more selfish her wishes seem. Maybe one final goodbye would feel like hearing the song on the radio you’ve been wondering about for weeks. It couldn’t have hurt her anyways. She’s dead.
xoxo- Cassandra

September 12
Nan was supposed to fly in from Buffalo today to take over our guardianship. I’m sixteen. I could go to court and be my own guardian, but there’s Amelia to deal with.

She had been set to fly in the night of the 9th, but she’d delayed her flight three times already, and it was clear, at least to me, that she wasn't coming. The phone call I got an hour ago cemented that idea. She left a voicemail for me while I was at school, to say that she decided she was too old and tired to get her ass to the airport, let alone corral two teenagers till they get to college or the underpass. Nan said she’d raised my mother, and that was quite enough child rearing for a lifetime. I’d never heard a more authentically Nan statement in my life.
I listened to the message five times over even though I never doubted it was real. Then I dropped the receiver. The cord kept bobbing up and down against the wall as I stared aimlessly at the dial. I sunk down against the wall, the phone tapping into my shoulder every so often. I haven’t moved.

What am I waiting for? Could she call back and say she’d made some mistake? April Fools! Maybe I’m looking for someone to swoop in and tell me things couldn't get worse. Maybe I thought that if I stayed put long enough, someone would come around with a glass of milk and a comforting hand to guide me back to bed. A mother. But no; nobody wants to mother a sixteen-year-old girl. Even eleven is even a stretch. My sister, Amelia, has become as unwanted as I’ve always been. People cared for babies and small children; once you are adult sized you should be able to make it on your own, right? Wrong.

I thought about telling Ms. Martinez, but I’d read and heard and watched too many horror stories about siblings getting sent to opposite ends of the country by CPS. No one would care that Amelia had never even spent a night away from apartment #8. Seeing my choices in writing makes them seem a bit less logical, but I stand by them.

So, instead of telling an adult that my new guardian has given up on coming, I picked this ratty thing up and started writing. And here I am, still feeling stupid, and small and confused.

At least Mom filled our bus passes before collapsing from sudden heart failure at the kitchen table, over dad’s urn, leaving me to call the paramedics and send Amelia to Ms. Martinez. It was one last favor before dumping her mess of a life on me like a pile of dirty laundry.
xoxo- Cassandra.
September 20
There was a thick packet of papers on the doorstep when I got home from school. They looked like the heavy, manila stacks in my backpack. School change notices and CPS forms had something in common. It’s bazar that no one wants to check your new guardian out in person. As long as they can write and buy a postage stamp, they’re well equipped to handle children, I’m sure. Oh well, it makes my life easier.

Sitting at the old kitchen table with the uneven fourth leg, I couldn't believe I was forging my grandmother’s signature. I'd never even signed my mother’s name on a field trip permission form. I used an old birthday card from years ago to copy Nan’s signature on the off chance somebody actually cared to cross-reference it. I tried to read every form; I figured it would give me a head start. I’m running a race, Amelia and I vs. them, only our legs are tied together.

 But the words started to bleed together into one boring blob of ink, and I started to skip the paragraphs and simply fill in the names and birthdays, checks and x’s.

Ms. Martinez came over tonight. She almost ruined my plot before I got it off the ground. She had an rusted, metal tin full of cinnamon rolls to welcome Nan to the neighborhood. No one in the complex has ever been this friendly. Of course, she wants to meet our new ghost of a caretaker. She kept looking over my shoulder, trying to figure out why I wouldn't let come in. I stalled for long enough to get her lose interest. She has no way to prove my elderly grandmother wasn’t asleep in the next room.
Your Liar in Chief,
Cassandra

September 25
Sometimes I wonder if people were put on earth just to make each other’s lives harder. I’m plenty self sufficient; it’s everyone else who’s the problem. The worst are the people who are supposed to be my friends.

 “You never go to the mall anymore, Cassie!” “Why aren't you eating lunch?”

Even if I weren't living by myself, taking care of an eleven year old, and hiding from the law, it would still be annoying. I should get to not be fine. I lost my mother for god’s sake. Shouldn't I get to be sad and broken and not okay? No, because the world has a problem with people who are not okay, even when they have a perfectly good reason for it. It makes them uncomfortable. And we can’t have that.

Just because I don't have a choice about putting on a brave face and pushing forward for my sister doesn't mean people can declare me better and criticize me for not getting back to life.

The eating is the worst. I tell them I’m not hungry, which is genuinely true. I haven't been hungry since I ended up calling an ambulance for my mother instead of heading back to my room with my usual after school cheese stick. But, even if I was eating, I’ve come to realize I don't have the money to buy lunch or waste cash on breakfast. Mom didn't leave much in the account. After paying rent, there was hardly anything left over to live.

Food is for the rich.

Anyway, even if they don't mean it like I hear it, the constant reminder, in the form of sighs and nags, of everything I lost, isn’t helpful. Shouldn't my friends be there to make me feel better, to make me forget for a little bit? I don't get to forget, or remember for that matter.
Thanks for never answering my questions,
xoxo-Cassandra

October 5
I knew that Amelia was going to crack eventually, that our fragile peace would fly out the window. It has been too nice. But why did it have to be today? After getting back two tests with big, red Fs on them, Amelia jumped on me with all her frustrations with the world. The half hour after walking through the apartment door went something like this:

“I can’t do anything anymore!” Amelia announced.

“Why do you say that?” I had said, only half listening.

“You never let me go to the mall with my friends even though you won’t take me yourself to buy new clothes. All the girls are wearing these cool pink watches from this new boutique, and I’m the only girl who doesn't have one.”

I huffed. I’d told her that we weren't spending money on stupid shit when she’d asked for the watch on Monday. Why did she have to complain about it? “Mom didn't let you go to the mall alone, either, Amelia. You're eleven.”

“What does my age have to do with anything?”

“Ever heard of kidnappers?”

She rolled her eyes.

“You’re just paranoid. I thought living without parents was supposed to be fun,” she said and threw herself onto the couch.

“You think it's fun to lose both your parents? You thought it would be fun to have to hide that you’re an orphan from the rest of the world.  Starving? What about our situation is fun?”

“Mom was a better person than you’ll ever be. Why did she have to leave me?” The anger in Amelia’s tone was directed at me, but the sadness was all for herself. I couldn’t even get upset at her weak attempts to hurt me.

“Maybe you should think about that some more and you’re stupid watch will get a little less important. If you looked around and saw that we’ve been eating expired canned dinners for two weeks now, you’d see there isn't any money for a watch!” I yelled back. Then she slapped me across the arm as she stormed out of the room like when we were five.

But she never got sent to time out.

I felt guilty for a bit, but now I’m more frustrated than before. I get that she’s eleven, but it’s ridiculous Amelia can’t understand that we’re broke and on thin ice with the world. If she does something stupid, it could be the end of us. If she lets it slip to one of her friends’ moms or gets caught doing something she shouldn't have, I don't know what I’ll do.
It kills me to see her lose her childhood like this, and I’ve tried to make things as normal as possible, but, just like Nan, I didn't sign up for this. Sadly, I can’t just walk away.
xoxo- Cassandra

October 8
Nathaniel, who lives next door, caught me as I was walking up to the stairs towards the apartment. We were friends in grade school, but, I don't know, life happens and we stopped talking. For some reason, he chose today to rekindle the friendship.

He said that his mom (Ms. Martinez) had told him about everything that happened. Everything was a relative word, I guess, considering she barely knew anything. He said he was sorry about my grandmother being so sick. If only he knew.

The whole time he kept flicking his head around to keep his overgrown, blond fringe out of his eyes. For some reason, that made me laugh. I hadn’t laughed since August. Then he went on and on about people needing a break, and I asked him how I’d ever catch one.

I spent all evening, at Nathaniel’s insistence, in his living room playing Monopoly and Sorry and eating homemade lasagna. It was the closest to normal I’ve felt since everything really was normal.

I’d sent Amelia a text telling her where I was and then forgot about her. It was nice to finally be able to do that. At the end of the night, I walked away with half a pan of lasagna and a quarter of a chocolate cake. My stomach growled at the thought of having real food for a week, even if it did get old and crusty eventually.

Nathaniel insisted on walking me home, even though I only had to go next door.

We jumped from under his porch light to mine, and I thanked him for inviting me to dinner. He replied that he was around to talk anytime I needed to. It made me wonder if he knew how alone. The thought sent a shots of panic up my spine. My adrenaline still hasn’t dropped.
xoxo-Cassandra

October 20
Today was the worst yet. I got a notice that our only account, my mother’s nonexistent life savings, has hit $10. They want me to put in more money. The bank doesn’t seem to understand that, if I had more money, I’d be buying food and not having a panic attack. I found some quarters in the couch to buy packages from the vending machine, and it made me feel like a lottery winner.

The power went out today, and I’m late with the rent. I guess we’re one-step from eviction now. I pulled out all the winter quilts Mom had bought at yard sales. Amelia and I buried ourselves under them and ate the last of our Oreo pack.
I tried to find a job today. I stopped in every business on my walk home from school. I walk now because the school bus doesn’t come to our part of town, and the Metro bus is too expensive. Everything is too expensive now. Anyway, none of the stores had a part-time position for a sixteen year old with no work experience. Too bad Ms. Hooper’s kids are too old for a babysitter anymore. I’m out of ideas, but I have to get the lights back on.

I wonder if I’d be better off without Amelia. Or, really, if she’d be better off without me. Is it even worth dragging both of us through this awful mess? What are we even doing this for? Really, Amelia might miss me for a minute, but she’d be fine eventually. Am I just selfish for not telling anyone?

Sometimes I have to wonder what I could have done with my life if I didn’t have someone else to think about, if I hadn’t always thought about everyone so much.
xoxo-Cassandra
All I do is ask questions like someone will answer me.

October 27
Today was another bad day. It seems there are more bad days than good ones. When will it end? Worrying about Amelia and working odd jobs to make a bit of money has really cut in on my time to do homework. I’ve never really had time to do homework, but Mom always made it a priority. Now I just care about survival. My star student reputation makes the fall from grace even harder.

Ms. Swinbank forced me stay after English to talk to her, which made my stomach jolt. As she talked, she held onto my arm in a way that was supposed to be comforting, I think, and the look in her eyes made me want to cry. She said that all the junior teachers were talking about me during their weekly meeting, and they’re all concerned for me because my grades have been slipping. I’ve failed the latest tests in all my classes. I’ve given up on homework entirely.

She asked if I was having problems at home: if we needed assistance, if my friends were okay, was I fighting with my boyfriend? I wish it were any of those. That would mean I’d have trivial, fixable problems… or a boyfriend. She said if I don’t pull my grades up they’d have to get the principal involved. That means permanent records and guardian meetings. It’s the last thing I need. I told her that I was very sorry I’d let school slip and that I’d been in a fog lately. I hope she’ll let it go because studying for Honors Physics at 2AM is not happening right now.
xoxo-Cassandra

November 1
I’m wondering when I’ll catch a break. It seems like it’s just one problem after another and all the time between is spent bracing for the next disaster. I’m wondering why anyone even bothers getting up anymore. I guess they’re like me. They don’t see another option.

The worst part is that I don’t know how to deal with anything. I never got a chance to grieve my mother. Survival and Amelia are more important. I focus on things that can breathe. Amelia’s really all I have now. I guess that’s why I keep holding on to this life. If I lose her, I have no family. I wish she wasn’t such a kid sometimes. I wish I knew how to be a parent. I resent her, and then I hate myself because she deserves to be a kid and to be happy and to not worry about money or food or keeping the power on like I have to.

But I deserve to be a teenager and do stupid things and hang out with my friends. I shouldn’t have to worry about another human or myself. But I do, and, apparently, this is my life. I don’t know why I’m bothering writing this. I guess I just needed to let it out somewhere.
xoxo-Cassandra

November 5
I kinda took Nathaniel up on his offer to talk today. I couldn’t tell him anything, but I had to say something. I felt guilty about having to lie to the teachers. I felt angry with myself for letting myself slip to the back burner, even though that was the only way to make my charade work.

He tried to get me to share everything. I know that he’s curious which makes even sharing a little even riskier. He tells me I can trust him with anything, but that just makes me feel guilty. I need to stop thinking about other people so much.

I guess there wasn’t anything else he could say to the girl, sitting on his balcony crying and getting snot all over her sweater. I hope he thought I was upset about Mom, which was true, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being sad or angry or plain heartbroken. Maybe he thought I was scared or upset over my “sick” grandmother that he still hasn’t seen.

My life is still awful half lies eating away at my conscience. It makes me wonder if there will ever be a time when I don’t have to lie. I know I could just tell the truth and end it now. I know it would be better for everyone, but I just can’t. Okay?
xoxo-Cassandra

November 15
Why does everything always get worse? I’m wondering if “better” even exists. Maybe it was just some beautiful, philosophical idea. I called myself in as sick this morning, which was so nerve wracking that it really did make me sick. Now I regret not keeping Amelia home too.

At noon, as I was snacking on a few Goldfish from a giant bag I’d managed to take from Nathaniel’s, I got a call on the landline, the only bill I’d kept paying with food money. It was the principal at Golden Oaks Middle School, and he wanted to speak to Amelia’s guardian. I dropped the phone onto the tile in a deja vu like trance.
“This is she,” I had said to the man who was clearly past annoyed. He proceeded to tell me that Amelia had been caught cheating on some test which could lead to her expulsion. I thought expelling her for that was stupid, but I bit my tongue because I really needed to keep Amelia in school and get off the phone with the guy.

I said that I was sorry for her actions. I promised she would never do it again. Most administrators enjoyed listening to people grovel for forgiveness. Then he told me that I would have to come to the school to pick her up. He wanted to have a meeting. I was surprised he hadn’t caught the lie solely by my voice, but I guess it’d been a while since I was at Golden Oaks.

He must have been confused by the silence on my end as I tried to think of a plan because he said, “Miss, are you still there?”

“Uh, ya,” I had replied in the most composed way possible. “I can’t, um, make it.” I hit my elbow on the counter and winced. “Can someone else come get her instead?” At this point, I was crossing every appendage I had hoping it would give me the little bit of extra luck I needed to swing this.

“This is a very serious offense, and I would like to talk in person about the situation.” If only he knew.

“I understand that,” I said, trying to sound like an adult. “But, for now, can I please send our neighbor to come claim her. I’m not trying to undermine the severity of the situation,” I said. He asked again for me to come in.

I wanted to point out that I’d made it quite clear there was no other way, but I took a deep breath and repeated myself. By the time I finally got off the phone, I had a whole slew of new problems to deal with. For starters, I’d arranged for Ms. Martinez to collect her, but Ms. Martinez didn’t know that yet.

So then, I was over at the neighbor’s, groveling for the second time that day. Ms. Martinez gave me that narrowed-eyed, questioning look but picked up her purse and keys nonetheless. Amelia was ringing the doorbell, one of the few things that still worked in the house, forty-five minutes later.

“Do you understand what you’ve done?!” I said as soon as the door clicked shut.

She shrugged at me and pulled some gum out of her backpack.

That made me more angry. “If cheating wasn’t bad enough, you could have destroyed everything. They wanted to talk to your guardian. They wanted to expel you.” I stamped my foot into the ground to try to get her attention. The fringy hair at the end of her braid had suddenly become the most interesting thing in the world. “If you get expelled…” She didn’t respond. I changed tactics. “If Ms. Martinez finds out… She’s already suspicious.” This got me little more than an annoyed look.
Then I stormed out and wrote this, and, if I’m being honest, cried.
A lot.
xoxo-Cassandra

November 18
It’s official. The lie has come unwound. I’ve told the one person I never should have spoken to. I told Nathaniel every single little intricacy of the mess I’ve created because I am weak and tired and mad and frustrated and done. He was there to hold me and run his hand through my hair. I told him everything because he said I didn’t have to be strong anymore.

Nathaniel stopped me while I was walking through the common courtyard. I’d been crying because Mom always loved the flowers, even though awful weeds choked them. And I was crying because I needed to cry, because that’s just what happens now.

He said, “Cassie, what’s wrong?”

I shook my head. The concern in his eyes seemed real, and I got drunk on the idea someone still cared about me.

I just said, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t just take it anymore.”

“What’s going on, Cassie? Let me help you.”

“But you can’t,” I said before I told him everything.

He stood there and looked at me patiently. In the moment, it didn’t feel like I was having confessional with the devil, I regret it all now.

I think he only ever spoke to me because his mom asked him to. How hard is it to play pretend? Maybe he did care, too, but it doesn’t take away from what he could do now. He has my power. His wolf teeth are sharp, but his wool cloak was so soft…

November 22
We’re off for Thanksgiving break, which means that I can seal us off from the rest of the world. Anything beyond the door is a threat. I can’t even stand out on the porch because Ms. Martinez is right next-door ready to barge in and take down my world. It already feels like someone has a hold on a loose strand of yarn in my sweater. The farther I try the run, the more of my body gets exposed.

Maybe my paranoia has gone a little far. I’ve spent all of break staring out the dirty, tiny peephole in the door watching everyone who walks by, imaging how they could ruin my life.

I told Amelia to keep her guard up. I didn’t need her running her mouth to someone. Not that she leaves the apartment. We’re on lock down, eating peanut butter out of jars and thinking about the rolls and turkey and stuffing we used to have on Thanksgiving. Even the turkey sandwiches we’d had to mark the occasion after dad died sounded good now.

I’m just biding my time till the end. I know it’s coming. And, for once, I admit everything is out of my control.
xoxo-Cassandra

November 27
It’s all over.

Nathaniel didn’t tell his mom. I would have been better off that way. We would have had a chance. No. The principal pulled me out of English and confronted me. Nathaniel was still standing around when I got to the office. I guess he was waiting for the show to start. I gave him a look that I hoped said he made the wrong choice. I hate him. But it doesn’t matter.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen now, but we’ve been assigned a social worker. They’re looking into placement in a home or an orphanage or something. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. It doesn’t matter anymore.

I’m sorry Amelia.

I wonder when I’ll stop getting drowned by the undertow. My lungs are slowly filling and my eyes burning. My name over the PA system echos in my ears. And it just won’t stop.
STOP.
It doesn’t matter though. What’s the point?
The end.
-Cassandra

Thanks for reading my story! If you want to see more of my writing you can check out the page here: Writing Page I love getting to share my fiction (since I don't get to often!) and would love to hear what you think with a comment below or sending an email to readingwritingandme@gmail.com
Links of Interest:
Accidental Bad Girl: Review Here
We Are All That's Left: Review Here
The Dead Enders: Review Here

Comments

  1. This was written so well! In those short paragraphs I really connected with Cassandra and now I'm interested to hear how her story/life play out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Queen of Geek Review

Queen of Geek by Jen Wilde
Overview: Charlie is a famous You Tuber whose indie film has exploded in popularity. It's landed her at SupaCon in San Diego with two of her best friends. While there, Taylor and Jamie try to find a way for Taylor to meet her favorite author, and Charlie has to do tons of press with her exboyfriend. Luckily, though, the magic of the con brings them all some good luck and memorable moments. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Charlie is so much fun. She's confident, has pink hair, and is full of life. She has some interesting commentary on being famous and also on how fandom works when people ship actors together in real life.
Taylor has anxiety and is on the autism spectrum. She's the biggest fan of the Firestone series, but winning the contests to meet the author requires her to step way outside of her comfort zone. With Jamie by her side, she reclaims a lot of confidence and makes the con her own.

Plot: 4 If you love books about celebrity and cons, you'…

More Than Maybe Review

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (May 2020)
Overview: Vada works at a dive bar, scraping together money for college and learning about running from a show her soon to be step-dad to get closer to her future dreams. She also runs the Loud Lizard's successful music blog Behind the Music. Vada is about to head off to LA and start working towards her music journalism dreams, but she has to make it through senior year first. Luke Greenly is the son of famous British punk rocker, Charlie Greenly. The whole family has set down roots in Michigan where his mom works at the university, but remnants of his dad's past life still follow them. Luke loves writing songs but hates performing, and, because of his dad, he's been thrust into the spotlight more than he'd like. For now, he'd rather stick to making successful podcast The Grass Is Greenly with his twin brother, Cullen, and hopelessly pining after Vada through stalking Behind the Music. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Vada is a charact…

Izzy and Tristan Review

Izzy + Tristan by. Shannon Dunlap (324 pages)
Overview: Izzy and Tristan have a love story. When Izzy's family renovates a moves into a new house on a Brooklyn block their lives change. Her twin brother Hull almost immediately gets into a fight, pulling a knife on some neighborhood kids after a gambling chess match goes wrong. Izzy falls for Tristan, the boy who won Hull's match. With Hull away at a rehabilitation center, Izzy and Tristan are free to fall for each other until Marcus decides that he wants to take revenge on Hull by dating his sister. And even when that battle is overcome, police brutality draws a permanent line between the couple. Overall: 2

*Okay, I'm not really sure how to write a spoiler free review of this because the shocker ending is what I take the most issue with. I'll keep it spoiler free in the characters and plot section, but I will talk about the ending in the writing section. I still recommend you read it, even if you plan on reading the boo…

I Got Rid of (Almost) All My Books

On Twitter, everyone loves to joke about their TBR piles that are heading to swallow them whole. We talk about buying way too many books. They're like personality traits for book bloggers and book community members, but we don't really talk about the reality of that. Running the blog for close to three years, it was starting to stare me in the face in the form of heaps and heaps of books. Books everywhere. Shoved onto my tiny bookshelf, stacked on top of it, piled on my nightstand, piled on the floor, and lining my long windowsill. I woke up one morning and decided it felt like the books were slowly creeping in and stealing all the oxygen. So I decided to do something about it. I gathered together all the boxes floating around in the garage from Christmas, threw myself on the floor, and started to make piles of my books.
It was honestly overwhelming to start deciding what I was giving away and what I was keeping. I was both feeling like "EVERYTHING MUST GO" and &quo…

Reflecting on 2019 and the Decade

"It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age"- "Long Live"

I can't believe it's finally here. We're all getting ready to step into 2020 tomorrow. It always seemed so far away. We've all been talking about it so long that it's managed to creep up on me. I guess we're all getting a little extra sentimental because we're ending a decade (in terms of the popular view of decades). We're moving into the 20s. Seeing everyone's decade later comparisons has been weird because the 2010s were the first full decade I've ever lived. I started the decade as a six year old in first grade, so, even though I feel like I've accomplished far less than some people on Twitter, I have, in fact, managed to graduate elementary, middle, and high school and get into college in the last 10 years. I've also become a person.
Most of what's shaped me has happened in the last ten years. I've learned an incredible amount about mysel…

Top 10 of 2019: All the YA Love

We're winding down 2019, so it's time to get reflective on the past year. It feels like multiple lifetimes have happened in this single year. It was one of the best years for the blog that I've ever had. Even though I might have read less this year, I expanded my interviews and guests posts, got to work closely with some wonderful writers, and fell further in love with the YA community. A huge thank you to everyone in the Novel19s for working with me, being so kind, and putting out some of the best books I've ever read. In the next few weeks, I'll be posting more about the future I see for the blog going into 2020 and it's third year, but, for now, let's celebrate all the amazing stories 2020 has brought to us! I did my Reading, Writing, and Me book awards recently which honored over 20 books in tons of different categories so if you need last minute holiday shopping inspiration, check out this list and the earlier one!

1. Permanent Record
I have not stoppe…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Past Perfect Life

Past Perfect Life  by Elizabeth Eulberg (July 9)
Overview: Ally Smith has lived for almost her entire life in Wisconsin. She briefly remembers living in Chicago, but it's always been just her and her dad. She's made a life in the town and become almost family with the Gleasons who basically own the town. Her perfect life is shattered, though, when an error with her social security number on her college applications alerts the FBI that she's actually a missing person. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 Ally is an awesome main character. Her voice and handling of emotions is so relatable, and I love how articulate she is. The emotional hurdles she jumps through are so shocking, but she makes them make sense. It's almost like a reverse savior situation she finds herself in as she's taken from her "perfect" life and dropped into one that looks much more "perfect" from the outside.
The Gleasons are great additions too. They're her best friends and protect…

Waiting For Fitz

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde (March 5) Click to Purchase
Overview: Addie is in the hospital for inpatient OCD treatment. She's not thrilled, particularly because her mom might watch The Great British Bake Off without her, but, overall, she's ready to try whatever it takes to get better. And it turns out that most of the orderlies are nice and her fellow patients are great company, especially Fitz, who's been there for two years battling schizophrenia. Inside, she makes major strides toward recovery, but Fitz comes to her and asks for help breaking out. Against her better judgement, she can't refuse to help him. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I enjoyed reading from Addie's prospective. I thought that Hyde did an awesome job portraying OCD and the compulsions and obsessions that come with it. Addie is sarcastic and sensible. She has a wonderful, supportive mom and a team behind her that's determined to help. I love how she is both reasonable, and takes time to quest…