A small town pianist ponders a new life away from her embarassing mother when a beautiful girl shows up and changes everything. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Nina LaCour (Hold Still), and Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda).
Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances.
One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.
How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.
She waits until we’re driving over the bridge to tell me. This is a strategic move. Wait until your temperamental daughter is suspended over the Atlantic Ocean to drop the bomb, thereby decreasing the chance that she’ll fling open the car door and hurl herself over the edge.
My mother is many things. Beautiful. Annoyingly affectionate after a few drinks and mean as a starving snake after several. Quick-witted and hilarious when her latest boyfriend isn’t turning her into some sycophantic sorority girl. But a fool?
My mother is no fool.
She swerves to pass a car that’s already going at least ten over the speed limit. The ocean, a dark sapphire blue, swings out of my vision and back in. I grip the handle above the window, shifting my gaze over to Mom to make sure her I forgot this silly thing again seat belt is securely fastened.
“What did you say?” I ask. Because I must have misheard her. Surely, my subconscious anticipated returning home to some catastrophe after leaving Mom on her own for the past two weeks, and it conjured up something totally absurd to lessen the blow.
“Grace, don’t make a big deal out of this. It’s just an address,” Mom says, and I bite back a bitter laugh. She loves that word. Just. Everything is just. It’s just one drink, Grace. A birthday is just a day, Grace. It’s just sex, Grace. My entire life is one gigantic just.
Well, I’m just about to lose my shit if you’re serious, Mom.
How’s that for a freaking just?
She steers with her knee for a few terrifying seconds while she digs a cigarette out of her purse and sparks it up. She blows out a silver stream of smoke through the open window, and I watch her fingers. Long and elegant, her short nails perfectly manicured and glossed eggplant purple, like always. She used to press our fingers together, kissing the joined tips and making a silly wish on each one. I would measure my hand against hers, eagerly waiting for the day when mine was the same size. I thought that the older I got, the older she would get and the less I’d have to worry about her.
“Pete’s place is really nice,” Mom says. “It’s so unique. Wait till you see it.”
“Pete. Who the hell is Pete?”
She glances at me and frowns, flicking ash out the window as we exit the bridge and drive onto the road that leads into town. “I started seeing him before you left for Boston. I told you about him, right? I’m sure I . . .” She trails off, like not being able to finish a sentence automatically releases her from any obligations.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I ask, struggling to keep my voice even.
She laughs. “Of course, baby. This is a good thing. Our lease was up and that dickhead of a landlord wouldn’t renew it because he claimed I still owed him three months’ rent for that dump he called a beach house. And things with Pete were going so well. He’d just moved and needed a woman’s touch.” She giggles and snicks the cigarette butt out the window. “That’s what he said. A woman’s touch. Such a gentleman.”
Oh Jesus. I recognize that tone, that girly giggle, that glassy look in her eyes. I can almost mouth the next words along with her, reciting the lines of a painfully familiar play. I’ve been off-book for this shit show for a long time.
Cue Mom’s dreamy sigh.
Three . . . two . . . one . . .
“He might be the one, baby.”
My fingers curl into fists on my bare legs, leaving red nail marks along my skin. When I left a couple weeks ago, I swear to hell Mom didn’t have a boyfriend. I would’ve remembered. I always remember, because half the time, I’m the one who reminds her of the asshole-of-the-month’s name. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but I really thought she’d run out of options.
Cape Katherine—?Cape Katie to locals—?is a tiny spit of land jutting into the Atlantic with about three thousand residents, a quaint downtown with lots of local shops and restaurants, and an ancient lighthouse on the north end that’s still maintained by a real-life lighthouse keeper. We moved here when I was three, and in the fourteen years since, I’ve lost count of how many guys Mom has “dated.”
And the whole lot of them has had the honor of being The One for about ten minutes.
Mom turns onto Cape Katherine Road. The Atlantic rises up on our left, flanked by rocks and gravelly beach. Early-afternoon sun spills coppery sparkles on its surface, and I take a few deep breaths. I’d like nothing better than to jump ship, streak down the beach, and throw myself under its waves, letting it roll over me. Let it have me for a few minutes, curling my body this way and that, transforming me into something free and weightless.
But I can’t do that.
For one, it’s cold as hell this early in the summer.
And whatever knot my mother’s woven herself into with He-Might-Be-The-One-Pete, I’m the only one here to untangle it.
“Okay,” I say, pushing my hair out of my face. “Let me make sure I’ve got this straight. In the twelve days since I’ve been in Boston, you moved everything we own into a new house I’ve never seen to live with some guy I’ve never met?”
“Oh, for god’s sake. You make it sound like I’m dragging you into some disease-ridden jungle. I’m telling you, you will love Pete’s house.”
I don’t really give two shits about Pete’s house.
I’m more concerned about Pete.
Mom flips on the radio while I try to decide if I want to vomit, scream, or cry. I think it’s some awful combination of all three.
“Mom, can we please talk about—?”
“Oh, baby, hang on.” She turns up the volume on Cape Katie’s one and only radio show, hosted by Cape Katie’s one and only radio host, Bethany Butler. It’s on every morning and evening, and people call in and tell Bethany sob stories about their missing cat or how their coffee burned their taste buds off or something equally inane and irrelevant. Mom freaking loves it. She’s a total sucker for anything potentially tragic and unrelated to her own life.
“You heard it here first, Cape Katians, so keep an eye out for Penny. She was la...
"Blake (Suffer Love) skillfully assembles a complex story about the wonders of first love while exploring challenges all teenagers face, such as growing up and gaining independence... a story written with realism and sensitivity."
"This organic, moving romance juxtaposed with a messy, complex mother-daughter relationship is passionately told, with glimpses of optimism appearing through Grace’s unshakeable bonds of loyalty. Blake clearly illustrates the impact of adult decisions that disregard the lives of teens, guaranteeing an emotional and relevant read."
"Despite the heavy topics addressed, the story never feels hopeless or depressing, as the author writes with nuance and care about her cast of admirably strong, loyal, and resilient teens who face head on the challenges life throws at them."
"A solid romance within a moving portrait of a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. Recommended for YA contemporary fiction collections."
—School Library Journal
"This is a gorgeous and moving novel of love, connection, romance, mother-daughter relationships, and the way pain inextricably links them all."
—Dahlia Adler, BN Teens
"A beautiful book about two girls trying to hold on: to themselves, to each other and to the pieces of their shattered lives. Heartbreaking, hopeful and honest. Blake has written one of most wrenching portrayals of a messy, complicated mother/daughter bond I've seen in Young Adult fiction. Bravo!"
—Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You
"A beautiful story about love's paradoxical ability to be the most difficult yet most effortless thing in the world. Ashley Herring Blake breaks your heart for these girls and then stitches it back together with starlit magic."
—Dahlia Adler, author of Under the Lights and Just Visiting
Praise for Suffer Love:
“Sam and Hadley's palpable and steamy romance had my heart racing. This heartfelt, realistic story kept me up reading all night long. I loved this book."
—Miranda Kenneally, bestselling author of Catching Jordan
“Shakespeare references, betrayal, and a teacup piglet: what more could you want in a modern love story?”
—Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal and The Lies About Truth
“An emotionally vivid, fearlessly honest portrait of two very human families, with a love story that will make you ache. Utterly beautiful.”
—Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
"[Blake] writes a believable, emotionally satisfying romance that relies on realistic characterizations rather than supermodel good looks, fashion, and standard plot devices. It's a refreshing change from the far more common standard romances that so often become formulaic, and the well-integrated literary references are a bonus. A smart, satisfying romance."
"Debut author Blake puts the teens in a near-impossible situation, adeptly showing how Sam and Hadley can be more adult in handling the complications of romance than all four of their parents . . . Readers will be left thinking about the ways love can both hurt and heal."
"A strong choice for YA collections, especially where romance is popular."
—School Library Journal
"Sam and Hadley are appealing and engaging characters, especially when Hadley devastatingly, sympathetically learns the truth. Blake doesn’t opt for the easy, happily-ever-after ending, instead emphasizing that relationships are work and need to be handled with care."
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