Published by Atria Books on August 9th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isnÔÇÖt thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.
Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.
ThatÔÇÖs because the novel is patterned on EmilineÔÇÖs own dark and desperate childhood, which means that ÔÇ£J. ColbyÔÇØ must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasnÔÇÖt seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.
The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront ÔÇ£J. Colby,ÔÇØ but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?
From USA TODAY bestselling author Ren├®e Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that sheÔÇÖs the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.
During the winter we pretended our way through the classics, read every popular kidÔÇÖs book and by spring of our sixth grade year, the spring of all the rain, we were ready to be outside and explore again. There was a creek about half a mile back from our houses, past the tree line. Because of all the rain that year, it had become more of a river with the strongest currents right behind where we lived. Every adult warned us to be careful, even my dead-beat dad would say, ÔÇ£You better use that big brain of yours and stay out of the creek. You want to go swimming, you can go to the pool in town.ÔÇØ
Funny he would say that because the community pool was a seven-mile bike ride and it cost three dollars to get in. There was no way I was going unless Leila, JaxÔÇÖs mom gave us a ride and even then, I would have to borrow the money to get in. Frankly, going to the town pool was a pipe dream. It became a myth to us, a fantasy like Disneyland or Europe. Jax and I would try to imagine what it was like to go there.
ÔÇ£I bet they sell popsicles and popcorn and they probably have clowns too,ÔÇØ I said.
It was a warm day; we had made a picnic in the weeds. I laid out my Toy Story sleeping bag IÔÇÖd had from when I was a kid. Jax brought a jar of applesauce and I brought Fun Dip that my dad had bought me at the 7-11. We mixed the fun dip into the jar and took turns eating spoonfuls.
ÔÇ£Community pools donÔÇÖt have clowns, genius.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£How do you know?ÔÇØ I said.
ÔÇ£Because I just do.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£I bet thereÔÇÖs a high dive, like fifty feet in the air.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Do you know how high fifty feet is? You would die hitting the water. The impact would kill you.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£YouÔÇÖre such a know-it-all, Jackson. Why canÔÇÖt you let a girl dream? WeÔÇÖre never going to that pool because no one will ever take us, plus, it costs money, and last time I checked you werenÔÇÖt making any.ÔÇØ
He lay back on the blanket and propped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm not a know-it-all, I just have cable. And as soon as I turn sixteen, IÔÇÖm getting a job. IÔÇÖll pay for us to go to the pool. YouÔÇÖll see, itÔÇÖs just a big hole with water in it.ÔÇØ
I never really stared at him until that day. His eyes were closed so I took the time to inspect every inch of him. I was so curious about his body. My own body was changing and I was terrified of it. Jax was getting taller. He was going to be tall like his father, but he looked more like his mother in coloring and features. JaxÔÇÖs mom was French, so they had this creamy skin that looked sun-kissed year around and his brown hair and brown eyes had streams of gold running throughout it. He was letting his hair grow longer because heÔÇÖd been watching some show on TV that took place in California. He said everyone in California had long hair.
I was trying to grow my own unruly, brown locks out. I donÔÇÖt know why, I always had it in a braid. Maybe because I thought I would go to California with Jax one day. We both yearned for more than weeds and corn. All the books gave us those silly ideas and filled our heads with things that might never be.
I lay down beside him and stared directly into the sun. He turned on his side and propped his head on his elbow.
ÔÇ£YouÔÇÖll go blind doing that,ÔÇØ he said in a low voice.
ÔÇ£Leave me alone.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Why are you in such a bad mood? You PMSing?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£What do you know about it?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£I doubt that and even if I were, itÔÇÖs beyond rude to talk to me about it.ÔÇØ I hadnÔÇÖt started my period yet but I wasnÔÇÖt going to tell him that.