It’s hard to believe, but my debut novel, Not Our Summer, will be out in the world in less than three months now! On 5/11/21, to be exact. As many of you may know, this book has been a long time in the making. It was my fourth completed manuscript, formerly known as The Bug Collector’s Bucket List.
I recently announced that my preorder campaign had begun with Magic City Books, which means you can order a signed copy of Not Our Summer and be one of the first to receive it! In celebration of that, and the fact that my release date is fast approaching, I wanted to share an excerpt from the book.
In this scene, cousins, Becka and K.J., are busy seeing the sights at Yellowstone, one of five places their grandfather asked them to go in order to fulfill his bucket list after his death. Due to a long-standing feud between the girls’ mothers, they’ve grown up estranged and only hearing bad things about the other, so suffice it to say, they don’t get along, especially during the first several trips.
The novel is told through both cousins’ point-of-view, but in this excerpt, taken from chapter 13, K.J. is narrating. Enjoy!
I take in the brown and barren landscape. Random plumes of steam rise from the earth for nearly as far as I can see. It’s like some kind of futuristic wasteland in one of Carter’s video games, totally different from yesterday’s scenery, but just as intriguing. I just wish it didn’t smell so bad here.
Following Johan, we cross the parking lot and start along a sidewalk that leads to the dismal landscape. I’m at the back of the group, just behind Angie and Ben.
“This place is incredible,” she says.
Her husband nods in agreement. I don’t think I’ve heard him say more than two words on this whole trip. Johan makes up for it, though; the guy hardly ever shuts up.
“Isn’t it?” he pipes up now. “This is one of the coolest spots in Yellowstone. Well, not literally of course.” Another corny smile.
Ha ha, I think. I study his man bun as he continues yapping, realizing that it probably takes him way longer to do his hair than it takes me. He looks all studly and tough, but I’d bet anything he goes to a stylist and uses expensive hair gel he prefers to call “product.”
Everyone pokes along, checking out the red, cracked earth on either side of us. It looks like it hasn’t rained in a hundred years, though I know that’s not true. Johan’s already given us the scoop on yearly rain and snowfall totals. The cement walkway turns into a raised wooden boardwalk as pools of blue and gold water replace dry ground. The rotten egg smell gets worse. A grayish stream runs beneath us, hissing like an angry cat. Everyone’s starting to get into full picture mode, including me. I snap a photo of nearly everything I see. Chutes of steam, bubbling streams, giant holes in the ground—you name it.
Ahead, a crowd has gathered where the boardwalk widens into a large rectangle. I soon see why. A big pool of bright turquoise water gurgles off to the right, steam rising from its center.
“What the crap?” I whisper. I’ve never seen anything like it. I take several more photos, including a peace sign selfie with the pool in the background.
“The thermal pools reach temperatures of roughly four hundred and fifty-six degrees Fahrenheit,” Johan says. “The water is so acidic, it can melt the skin right off a person’s body.”
Everyone gasps, but I give an appreciative nod. Very interesting. If I were going to dispose of Becka, this would be the perfect place to do it.
We continue along the boardwalk, and like yesterday, she stays close behind Johan, hanging on his every word. I smile and sidle up next to her. She glances my way, eyes narrowing, but keeps walking. When Johan pauses again, this time in front of a small geyser, I stand so close to Becka, our arms touch. Her lips pinch together, but she doesn’t dare say anything while our guide is talking. His gaze falls on us, his brow knitting, but he continues his spiel. I swear, the guy is like a walking encyclopedia.
I stick close to Becka as we move on.
“What are you doing?” she hisses under her breath.
“Just trying to spend some quality time with my cousin. It’s what Gramps wanted, remember?”
Her jawline tightens, and she shakes her head.
“Hey, Johan,” I call.
It’s so funny to hear him say that, I’m tempted to ask him another yes or no question just to hear it again, but I need to stay focused. “Becka was wondering how old you are. She wanted me to ask you.”
Becka’s face flushes pink, and Johan turns around, giving me an odd, squinty look before turning back to focus on the boardwalk ahead of him. No one wants to fall off this thing.
“Twenty-two,” he says.
“Oh. That might be a little too old.”
Becka elbows me in the side, and I wince.
“Too old for what?” he asks.
“To date Becka. She’s only eighteen, you know.”
She elbows me again, harder this time.
My reaction is automatic. I shove her away, and she stumbles several steps backward.
Her eyes widen in surprise and then quickly narrow into slits. “You . . .” She doesn’t finish the insult but shoves me back with an amazing amount of force for someone her size.
“Hey!” I yell. Anger flashes through me. I’m suddenly back in the sixth grade, having it out with Charlie McDonald, the bully of bus number nine. I push Becka back with everything I’ve got. This time, she squeals as she loses her balance and teeters close to the edge, but with cat-like reflexes, she manages to duck down and recover her balance. As she squares up at me, the look on her face is murderous.
If you’d like to preorder a copy of Not Our Summer, you can do so through the following booksellers!
Magic City Books (for a signed copy)