Release Date: 07/07/15
A teenage prostitute looking for redemption must face her secrets before they destroy her…
When tough teenager Anna ran away to New York, she never knew how bad things would get. After surviving as a prostitute, a terrifying incident leaves her damaged inside and out, and she returns home to the parents she was sure wouldn't want her anymore.
Now she has a chance to be normal again. Back in school, she meets a boy who seems too good to be true. Cute, kind, trusting. But what will he do when he finds out the truth about her past? And when a dark figure from New York comes looking for Anna, she realizes she must face her secrets…before they destroy her.
It hasn’t really hit me what’s happening until the van pulls up to my old house.
It’s big, white, with a full, manicured garden. The Japanese maple tree sitting there, right beside the stone steps that lead up to the wraparound porch, staring at me.
Everything is the same. Except me.
I stand there, looking at the house I fled three years ago. I can’t move. I can’t make myself go in that house.
Sarah comes around the truck and stands beside me. “Ready?” she asks.
I shake my head. I will never be ready for this. Never.
She doesn’t say anything, and she doesn’t move. We stand there for at least five minutes. Five really, really, really long minutes. I’m still not ready to move, no matter how long those minutes seem. I’ll stand here for eternity if I have to, if it can keep me from facing those memories. From facing my father. My mother.
But Sarah seems ready, so she begins to walk across the massive yard—through the grass. My mother won’t like it—she hates anyone touching her perfectly sculpted lawn—but I suppose that’s okay with me.
Sarah doesn’t ask me to join her, doesn’t plead with me to go inside. She leaves me behind, and that’s what makes me go. Did she know that even the smallest of nudges would have kept me rooted even deeper in my spot?
I walk very, very slowly toward the house. I feel defiant for walking through the grass. One small thing at a time. My mother doesn’t own me anymore.
Sarah reaches the top of the steps as I cross the garden. She knocks on the heavy door. I stop at the bottom of the steps, unwilling to go any farther.
Slowly, the door opens. I close my eyes and wait, but I hear nothing.
After a moment of silence, I can’t take it. I open my eyes to see Sarah and the face I’ve been dreading—and hoping for. My mother’s. Apparently she’s gathered enough courage to see me face-to-face.
Her hair is done in a tight bun, and her makeup successfully covers whatever flaws she has developed over the last three years. It’s obvious she spent a long time preparing herself to see her long-lost daughter up close, without a police station hallway between us. Because clearly looking put-together will make this easier.
I want to roll my eyes, shake my head, but in truth, I’m kind of glad to know she hasn’t changed that much. I didn’t ruin everything about her. Even if the thing that didn’t change was something I never liked.
She doesn’t move, just looks at me. But I cast my eyes to the ground, and she clears her throat.
“Why don’t you both come in?” I look to Sarah, who nods and walks through the open door first. We walk down a very familiar hallway and into our huge, bright white kitchen. I’m a stranger in this house.
I’m not the little girl who used to see how far she could slide on the hardwood dining room floor and hid in the linen closet when she was in trouble. I’m definitely not the little girl who sang Christmas songs with her mother while doing the dishes, even in the summer. That girl is gone.
I left her in Grand Central Terminal three years ago.
My father is waiting in the kitchen, sitting at the table. I take in a deep breath, sit across from him, and run my hands through my hair. After a pause, Sarah takes a seat beside me. She gives me a reassuring smile that I don’t return.
My mother jumps right into the role of perfect host, walking straight to the refrigerator. Her greatest skill was always ignoring the truth, pretending nothing bothered her, that everything was perfect. I don’t know if she agreed with how my father disciplined me, how harsh he was with even the smallest of transgressions. I think sometimes I blamed her more than I did him. But she was too good at ignoring the truth. I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s doing the same thing now.
“Would you like some tea?” she asks Sarah without a single glance at me. I want her to look at me. I don’t even know why. I should want to run and hide. I should want to hate her, want her to hate me. But somehow, I don’t. I want her to care.
Less than five minutes in this house and I already feel like a lost thirteen-year-old again. Maybe I’m not as different as I thought I was. I’m still a stranger in this house, but that’s not such a strange concept to Anna Rodriguez. I never belonged here.
The day Taylor Swift pulled her songs from Spotify was the day my book playlist went to die. Good thing I was already finished writing and almost all the edits were done at that point. I remember having one edit left and I had to make a youtube playlist because without Taylor Swift, the playlist is seriously lacking.
I had four major songs that set the tone for this book (only one of them isn’t a Taylor Swift song). Songs that fit different aspects so perfectly they felt like they were made for it, made to help me along (one of which, I swear, could be the theme song). Here is a list of my most important playlist songs and some of the lyrics that struck me the most (because, let’s face it, it’s the lyrics that makes these songs so great for Anna’s story)
1) Dear John by Taylor Swift
Dear John, I see it all now that you're gone.
Don't you think I was too young
To be messed with?
The girl in the dress
Cried the whole way home
I should've known.
2) Begin Again by Taylor Swift
I've been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again
3) Whore by In This Moment
You probably thought I wouldn't get this far
You thought I'd end up in the back of a car
You probably thought that I'd never escape
I'd be a rat in a cage, I'd be a slave to this place
You don't know how hard I fought to survive,
Waking up alone when I was left to die
You don't know about this life I've lived,
All these roads I've walked
All these tears I've bled
4) Innocent by Taylor Swift
(I could quote this whole song but I’ll stick to just a tid bit;) )
Did some things you can't speak of
But at night you live it all again
You wouldn't be shattered on the floor now
If only you had seen what you know now then
It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not what you've been
You're still an innocent
Some other songs on the play list:
Rise by Shawn Mcdonald
Runaway by Linkin Park
Torn to Pieces by Pop Evil
Somewhere Inbetween by Lifehouse
Lean On Me by DC Talk
Through Glass by Stone Sour
Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars
Never Too Late by Three Days Grace
Psycho by Puddle Of Mud
Fearless by DC Talk