The countdown is on for THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN!

I can’t believe the novel I’ve been researching, writing and editing for the past four years comes out in two months! In celebration of this I’m sharing the first chapter here!

THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN is a thrilling adventure full of mystery, friendship and real-life ancient artifacts set against the fascinating backdrop of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, Indigo and your neighbourhood bookstore and is a fun and exciting read for the whole family.

I hope you enjoy!


ONE

THE COBRA HISSES IN STRIKE POSITION, forked tongue flickering, hood flared wide. Its icy, flat stare remains unbroken except for the vertical blink of its eyes. My fingers move up and down the long wooden reed, covering some holes and releasing others, as the notes float up and up. Gaze locked with mine, the snake slowly undulates from side to side and my body relaxes a fraction as our spirits entwine. A crowd has formed.

This is what I want.

Vendors walk toward the spectacle, attention drawn. People point and laugh, momentarily distracted from the oppressive heat of midday as they move in closer for the show. My eyes don’t leave the snake’s, but I know Ky is weaving through the carts, lifting a plum here, palming a fig there, taking whatever is most easily on offer. Hopefully he’ll find some bread, maybe some nuts and fruits, though there hasn’t been much variety of late. My ears strain for shouts, an exclamation of “thief!” over a rumbling stomach, but the crowd is as mesmerized as the serpent.

Snake charming is not common knowledge here. My father taught me the art, just as he taught me to read and write, also not so common — especially for a girl. But he believed that learning and knowledge bestow power on their possessor. Unfortunately, all his knowledge and power were not enough to keep him and my mother from being killed.

Pain blooms raw and fresh, as if the cobra has struck my heart. Has it only been one moon since they were stolen from us?

Focus.

I need to focus or the snake’s Ka will break with mine. Then I will not be so safe. Though safety is mostly an illusion, I think.

Higher and higher, the snake rises in the air, out of the basket woven with grasses picked from the banks of the Nile by my own hands. Ky’s and mine. His are much faster. I pray to Amun they are fast now and try not to think what will happen if they are not. A fruit vendor, bald and fat, clothes stained with the juices of his wares, thrusts a finger in my direction and jeers.

“The snake is drugged. See how slow it moves.”

I do not stop playing to tell him the snake is moving slow because it is entranced. Also, the heat of this day would make any creature sluggish. My heckler himself is sweating, a hairy, meaty arm coming across his dripping brow. Others begin to murmur, debating the state of the cobra’s consciousness, attention wavering.

This is dangerous.

I move the reed in dizzying circles, notes coming faster. The snake follows the instrument, not taking its eyes from the wand, regarding it as a predator. It does not matter what tune I play, as the reptile can sense the sounds but not the individual notes. Those are for the audience, and so I try to make them as pleasing as possible. Unlike the fat man, I do not want my clothes splattered with rotten fruit.

There is a noise at the back of the crowd. My body tenses. A dog barks, then barks again. Time slows as the fat man turns, upper body twisting as he cranes neck over shoulder, double chin coming last, pointing in the direction of the commotion.

Please don’t let it be Ky, please don’t let it be Ky. But Amun must be sleeping because there is my brother, scrawny arm held tight in the grip of an angry woman, dark hair frizzing around her shoulders like pregnant storm clouds. She is yelling and my brother’s face is pinched and scared.

My foot shoots out, kicking the basket over. Screams erupt from the crowd as Apep goes slithering off in search of cooler and calmer surroundings. The flash of regret at the hours of now-wasted training is quickly replaced by an intense fear that my brother could possibly lose the arm the woman is clutching.

Or worse.

Running through the panicked crowd, Ky and the screeching woman disappear in the churning masses. Frantic, I whirl in all directions, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the pair.

A dog barks again and I look in its direction, eyes landing on the fat man.

“Don’t let him go!” he shouts, enraged. Following his gaze, I see the woman with my brother.

“If you were not so lazy and distracted, thieves could not steal so easily!” she yells back. I realize she is my heckler’s wife. He thunders toward them, one hand on the large knife at his side, sun glinting off the deadly blade. For a fat man he is quick as a crocodile, with a grin twice as evil. I dart under arms and around unwashed bodies, coughing on dust kicked up by sweaty feet.

“Sesha,” Ky cries, catching sight of me.

“Release him,” I say. The woman sneers at me in perfect imitation of her husband, who is only seconds from reaching us.

“I don’t think so.” Her lips twist in a cruel smile as her nails dig deeper into Ky’s arm, making him cry out. “He is going to pay for what he took.”

“He has nothing.” I pray she will not lift his tunic where the cloth sack is tied around his skinny waist. The fat man is almost upon us, knife gripped low. My mind races for a way out and comes up with nothing. I cannot leave Ky.

Then the dog is there, growling deep in its throat. It stares menacingly at the woman.

She takes a step back, unsure, pulling Ky with her. “Call off your dog.”

“He is not mine to call.”

“Liar.”

And then the man is also there, lunging for me. I go boneless like Apep, and slip through his hands. He lets out a roar, rotten breath enveloping me as he fumbles for the knife. Reaching my brother, I grab his arm and pull with all my strength in the opposite direction. The man is on his knees, scrambling for his knife in the dirt. Tugging harder, I yell again at the woman to let go. She will not. She is too strong.

The dog lunges forward, jumping up on her front, teeth snapping. She screams, hands coming up to protect her face, releasing Ky so suddenly that I stumble backward and we fall hard to the ground. But only for a second.

Jumping to his feet, Ky extends a crescent-marked arm to help me up. We race through the market, dodging around stalls and people too preoccupied with their own lives and the possibility of a snake underfoot to pay much attention.

I hear both the man and the woman shout behind us, but we are lightning, darting into shadows that even the sun’s rays cannot dispel. When at last we are sure of our safety, we stop, hands on knees, breath coming fast and hard, tracks of sweat running down our dusty faces. It is several minutes before we speak.

“I’m sorry, Sesha,” Ky says, distress in his dark brown eyes. “My hunger made me careless.”

“Do not apologize for being hungry, little brother.” I ruffle his brown hair, curly like our father’s was. He brightens.

“Look.” Untying the cloth satchel at his waist, he lets the tattered sack fall to the ground. Out rolls a fig, some grapes, a few berries, and one overripe plum, conjuring with it the smell of the man’s decaying teeth. My stomach turns.

“Well done.” I gesture to the food. “Eat. I am not hungry.”

“Are you sure?” Picking up the fig, he has it in his mouth before I can nod. He needs it more than I. Noting the dark circles under his eyes and the pallor of his face under skin coloured by the sun, I gesture to him to sit as we lean back against a pitted wall behind one of the temples.

“Apep?” he says between ravenous bites, juice dribbling down his chin.

“Gone,” I say, and he lowers his eyes. “Back to the riverbank where she’ll be much happier.”

“But … all the time we spent with her …” There’s a slight tremor in his voice.

“I can find another snake.” I pat his back and smile to let him know I’m not upset. “Another brother may not prove to be so easy.”

He holds out some bruised grapes. “Have some, Sesha, they are delicious.”

I oblige, knowing he will not relent until I eat something. We finish the food together, leaving only the mushy plum, which Ky pockets. A rustling sound to our left has us on our feet, heads swivelling in its direction. The dog from the market trots around the corner and we relax, slumping back against the wall. It walks up to Ky and licks his face, making him giggle. It nudges me next with a wet nose and I scratch its pointy ears. There’s a chunk missing from the left one, an old injury leaving the skin soft and smooth.

“Do you know this dog?” I ask, curious as to where it came from.

“He saved us,” my brother says, laying his head on the lean torso. “He is ours now.”

“Just what we need.” I sigh. “Another mouth to feed.” The dog barks and a hind leg comes up to scratch vigorously behind his torn ear. “And fleas.”

 

Pre-order your copy today!

xoxo

Alisha

Cover Reveal! THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN / THE DESERT PRINCE

Watch the first book in THE SECRETS OF THE SANDS series morph into the second in this snazzy animation video!

Both books are available for pre-order on Amazon, Chapters Indigo and fine booksellers in Canada and the US.

Book 1: THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN – Jan 2020

Book 2: THE DESERT PRINCE – July 2020

Book 3: To be revealed!

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SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS a finalist in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards


So thrilled that SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS is one of three finalists in the National Excellence in Romance Writing Awards (NERFA). Winners are announced in July 2019. Congratulations to my fellow nominees and a big thank you to First Coast Romance Writers, a chapter of RWA, for hosting the competition and to the readers who voted for the book!

 

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Writer in Residence on Open Book

This May I had the good fortune of being the Writer in Residence on Open Book. There’s all sorts of fun (and useful!) content posted over there so head on over and take a peek!

The Mindful Writer and the Desire to Publish

The Devil is in the Details – Researching and Writing Your Novel

Stay Healthy, My (Writer) Friends

5 Tips on the Editing Process

5 Reasons You Need a Writing Buddy

Cover Reveal for SECRETS OF THE SANDS (Book 1: The Lost Scroll of the Physician)

C’mon Baby Girl, Back that Mac Up

Facing the Double-headed Dragon: Perfectionism and Fear

The Dirty Dozen May 2019 writer-in-residence Alisha Sevigny on Conservation, Editing, & Dancing Her Heart Out

 

 

 

 

SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS Named One of 2018’s Best Books for Young Adults

I’m so excited – SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS was named one of 2018’s Best Books for Young Adults by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. I couldn’t be happier about the news and thank everyone who has supported me along this journey.  A big thank you to my fabulous publisher KCP Loft and everyone there, including my superstar editor Kate Egan. I also wanted to thank everyone who has come to an event, bought a book, left a review, recommended it to a friend or shared a social media post. Writing can be a difficult, all-encompassing vocation and it is the support of family, friends and fans that keeps me going on the difficult days and moments like this that make it all worthwhile!

 

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Secrets of the Sands: A New Middle Grade Historical Adventure Series

I’m so excited to announce SECRETS OF THE SANDS, a thrilling adventure series set in Ancient Egypt that showcases genuine contemporary artifacts. The first book, THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN, comes out Summer 2019. I’ve been working on this project since 2015 and was fortunate to receive grants from the Ontario Arts Council which both motivated and allowed me to keep writing.

There is something magical about this series and I hope that kids and adults alike will love it as much as I do.

Here’s a look at the first book:

SECRETS OF THE SANDS, BOOK ONE: THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN
It has been an entire moon since the fire—since Sesha and her little brother Ky lost their mother and father and found themselves orphans on the perilous streets of Thebes. Having only narrowly escaped the blaze with their own lives, the siblings struggle to survive, charming snakes and stealing goods from distracted vendors. In an unfortunate brush with the law, Sesha is forced to reveal their lineage as the children of the late royal physician, returning them to the palace and their once home. But Sesha knows the gods were not to blame for her parents’ deaths—someone betrayed them, perhaps even the Pharaoh himself.

My talented friend Meaghan McIssac has fun with mock cover designs!

Sesha’s father was working on transcribing an ancient papyrus with far reaching consequences for Egypt—and the rest of the world. A priceless scroll, believed to have been written by the Great Imhotep, the document has the power to shift the balance in an approaching war with the neighbouring kingdom of Hyksos; clear or condemn the royal family in the murder of her parents; and save her brother from a looming—and potentially fatal—illness. Vowing to the gods to discover the truth, Sesha engages in a clandestine search for the hidden scroll. But she’s not alone.

As the only girl enrolled in studies at the temple, safety is a mirage that constantly has Sesha looking over her shoulder. Among conspiracy at court, treachery at the temple, famine in the fields, and whispers of war, Sesha puts her father’s snake charming lessons to use in taming the nest of royal vipers. Using her knowledge of reading and writing, her talent for healing, her quick thinking, and the help of her fellow scribes and a certain princess, Sesha may just find the sacred text before it falls into the wrong hands—and time runs out to cure her brother.

Full of intrigue and adventure, Sevigny’s middle grade debut is sure to do for ancient history what Riordan has done for mythology—ignite passionate readers of all ages.

Researching in the ROM’s private archives!

The Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus (the “lost scroll” Sesha seeks) is a manual of military surgery and the oldest known treatise on trauma. It was discovered by tomb robbers and sold into the hands of Edwin Smith, a rare antiquities dealer in the late 1800’s, whose daughter later recognized its extreme importance and donated it the New York Museum of Medicine in the early 1900’s.

The scroll is believed to be dated to the Second Intermediate Period and is actually a copy of a much older medical document attributed to the Great Imhotep, Egypt’s first renowned physician, scribe, Grand Vizier and High Priest (among many other things). The copy is believed to have written by two scribes, with the second making small additions which are incomplete in some sections, as if the scribe were interrupted mid-transcription. Not only is the scroll one of the world’s most priceless artifacts, it is also the first document that demonstrates the Egyptians had a rational and scientific approach to medicine, rather than relying solely on magic and superstition.

The Second Intermediate Period is one of the most obscure periods of Ancient Egyptian history when the country fell into disarray, invaded by foreigners (the Hyksos) who gained control over the Nile Delta and ruled from the port city of Avaris (modern Tell el Dab’a). Egyptians viewed this brief period as a blight on a glorious history, but it was actually thanks to the warrior Hyksos (who—for the most part—held an uneasy truce with Thebes), that new advancements in weaponry and military procedures were introduced to the Egyptians, allowing them to eventually take back their lands, heralding in the extraordinary era of the New Kingdom. Even now, new research is being carried out and there are proponents of several theories regarding this tumultuous time, as the world’s renowned Egyptologists attempt to unlock the mysteries of the past and decipher its stories.

This is one of them…

 

 

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Interview with Author P.H. Oliver of THE GYNESAURS

Author P.H. Oliver

Today I’m hosting the hilarious P.H. Oliver whose book, THE GYNESAURS, was the ONLY self-published novel to hit the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour long-list (ie. Top 10 funniest books in the country and one of Canada’s oldest literary awards). Full disclosure: I was lucky enough to be the freelance editor on this book (because who doesn’t like snorting coffee out of their nose when working?) and trust me – it’s extremely entertaining. So if you’re interested in all things GYN, giggling in bed (whilst reading 😉 ) and maybe, just maybe, finally writing that novel that’s been inside you all these years, then read on, my friend. (Or maybe you’re just bored at work and/or hiding from the children in the bathroom?)

Tell us a little bit about THE GYNESAURS.

THE GYNESAURS tells the story of four single women, past their reproductive prime, who work in an ob-gyn office. For that reason, they call themselves “The Gynesaurs”. They are united not only by their work, but by their personal lives, which are often as colourful as the patients who seek their counsel. One national critic described the book as “a bold, delightful, strangely edifying read,” perhaps because although it is a fictional work, it is inspired by true stories and medically factual, so it gives its readers a peek behind the sanctity of the clinic doors.

Who was your favourite character to write?

Choosing your favourite character is a bit like choosing your favourite child. You hope that you have invested all of them with something compelling, memorable and worthwhile – even the most minor of them (the characters, not your children). There are a couple of characters who were closely patterned after real people and these are the two that readers seem to have the most fun with. I asked the woman who inspired Carolina, the Italian Mafia member’s daughter, to read the book and tell me if there was anything she would like me to take out, in case anyone recognized her. She chastised me, saying that I hadn’t put her “best stuff” in. Auntie Ceri was my sister Christine, who died before the book was published. I didn’t need to make much up about these two intriguing women, they are unforgettable. Many of the other characters are composites who eventually become independent of the author’s will and dictated their own personalities.

How did you get so hysterical and what’s your best recipe for laughter?

The author and editor at THE GYNESAURS launch

I was a middle child of four, with three very accomplished sisters – being funny as what I was good at. My father was a strict, somewhat stern man who was easily undermined by his own sense of humour. Most people feared his disapproval, but I learned that I could manipulate him (and many other authority figures) by making them laugh. It became my singular pursuit to try to either get attention or get out of trouble by making people laugh. We also moved a lot and being funny helped “The New Girl” fit in fast. I got away with a lot. My best recipe for laughter is to surround yourself by people funnier than you – as someone once said, “If you’re the best in the class, you’re in the wrong class.”

How did you find the self-publishing process?

As a first timer, I found it frustrating – largely due to my inexperience and poor computer skills. I made a lot of errors which cost me extra money to change. It would be much easier the second time, as I would know and understand the process. Now, I hear that Createspace is no longer providing the service I purchased and that is disappointing. Also, they don’t pay foreign royalties unless they amount to over $100.00 – with no alternative (last time I asked) to get that money back. Personally, I would probably investigate a local publisher or certainly a Canadian self-publishing organization for my next book. The good part is, is that I have a book on my shelf and that alone, is a great reward – well worth the money and effort spent.

How did it feel to be the only self-published book Long-Listed for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour Award?

When I researched the 70 authors on the Stephen Leacock submission list, I felt like a fraud amongst so many impressive, award-winning authors, “a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake, into a drawing room full of dukes,” as W. H. Auden put it. I shook my head and contented myself with seeing my little effort listed beside their names. At least I had finally full-filled two of the three New Year’s Resolutions I had made for the last 20 years which were:
1. to write a book
2. to submit it to the Leacock Medal for Humour Competition
3. to lose weight.
Apparently the first two of these are easier to accomplish than the third. Upon hearing that I had made the Long List – Top Ten in that august list of writers, I literally ran around the house howling like a mad woman. It was a heady moment, and still is.

Any advice for aspiring authors out there?
I am 64 years old. The woman who won the Leacock Award, Jennifer Craig for GONE TO POT, is 84. . . keep writing.

Where can people purchase your book?
THE GYNESAURS is sold on all Amazon and Indigo sites.

Thanks P.H. and good luck with THE GYNESAURS!

*PS. If you’re looking for a freelance editor for your next project please don’t hesitate to reach out! Here’s what P.H had to say about working with Wildflower Literary!

“Alisha combed through my 140,000 word manuscript offering many different strategies that I could employ to bring it down to  the recommended maximum word count  (under 100,000) for the genre in which it would be classified.  Readers have since told me that they were most impressed with the tightness and pace of the book, feeling that every line was worth reading.  There is no doubt in my mind that this high praise was due to Alisha’s keen instinct for what a reader wants and needs in order to keep turning the page.  Indeed, this, I would say, is the hallmark of Alisha’s own writing. She pointed out plot and character inconsistencies that I had missed, even after much scrutiny and gently curtailed my penchant for overly verbose descriptions.
She provides a thorough and discerning voice that will allow you to reconsider and/or validate your work from a fresh and knowledgeable perspective, always keeping the writer’s delicate ego in mind.  A pleasure to work with from beginning to end.”

 

CM Magazine Reviews SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS

Excerpt:

I really shouldn’t. I should be going home. I need to stop this. Whatever it is. But his gaze has a gravitational effect, like the moon on the waves, pulling me toward him.

“I thought you wanted to go for a swim.” My voice comes out as a whisper.

“I do,” he says, reaching for and pulling me up against his chest, lifting up my chin with a finger. “But first I want to do something else.”

“What’s that?” I hear myself ask. Only it doesn’t sound like me. The voice is low and throaty, and, dare I say it, seductive?

“This.” His lips settle on to mine. Sensations overwhelm me, all of them highly pleasurable, but there’s anxiety underneath.

He’s playing you. He’s good-looking. He’s rich. He can have anyone he wants. You’re so naïve. Why would he want a freckly little redhead with bruised shins and tree sap in her hair? Because he wants something from you.

 

Summer Constellations is Toronto based author Alisha Sevigny’s second young adult novel. Like Kissing Frogs, Summer Constellations is aimed directly at the hearts of young teen girls. This time Sevigny locates her novel in a less exotic location, a family run campground in Canada instead of the mountains of Panama. And, like Kissing Frogs, Sevigny again squeezes an environmental theme into her mostly romantic tale.

A looming financial crisis threatens the viability of the campground and drives the action of the story. Julia’s single mother is worn out from the maintenance of the campground, and the bills are piling up. While the summer begins with excitement for Julia – her summertime crush is due any minute – her mood switches to anger when her mother announces the possibility of selling the campground. Sevigny excels at pacing and is not afraid to pack a lot of action into a few pages. In rapid succession, Julia learns of her mother’s new plan, meets summertime boyfriend Dan, and guess what? – his new girlfriend Taylor and then runs off in a huff to the lakeshore where she promptly falls flat on her face in front of Nick Constantine.

In this moment, the only real flaw of the novel is exposed – and that is that we can smell the rest of the plot from here. From the moment Julia looks up and sees Eyes like midnight, jet-black hair and olive skin: he is the absolute definition of tall, dark and handsome, we know as surely as the stars twinkle in the sky on a warm summer’s night that Julia and Nick will end up together. We share Julia’s skepticism about Nick’s intentions – how could we not? But we learn to marvel right along with Julia that this rich, good looking, sophisticated, kind, funny young man – did I mention he plays in a band? – might fall for a much younger, temper tantrum prone teenager.

But once we’ve given in to this inevitability, the rest of novel goes down like a cool summer treat. Julia and Nick’s romance is sexy but not graphic, and most readers in the target demographic will be well satisfied with the many sensual, physical scenes.

Nick and his father are the brokers on the potential sale of the campground, adding a mysterious dimension to the plot. Is Nick romancing Julia to facilitate the sale? Will Nick dump her – like Dan did? Like Julia’s father did? Compounding Julia’s doubt is Nick’s enthusiastic involvement in her efforts to save the campground from the developers, the same developershe works for. Meanwhile, Julia’s little brother is fixated on a finding the treasure their grandfather once hinted at. Julia and Nick’s romance heats up as the plot complications pile on, and the novel races to an exciting, satisfying conclusion.

Summer Constellations is fun, romantic and might even stimulate some debate about the relationship between development and the environment. Sevigny also delivers interesting characters that we care about and who have problems that are reasonably relatable. More than anything though, this is a classic, steamy summer romance that young teen girls will love.

Highly Recommended.

BUY A BOOK HERE! ALREADY HAVE A COPY? GIFT IT TO A FRIEND!

Charlotte Duggan is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS = The Perfect Summer Read!

Sevigny’s (Kissing Frogs, 2014) portrayal of the emotional and financial struggles that can accompany illness in America ring true. Julia is a brave, independent, and competent female character who shows that you don’t need to be a femme fatale to be lovable. A pleasant coming-of-age story for fans of teen romance.
– Kirkus Reviews

This is a fast-paced, humorous and romantic story, with realistic dialogue and a cast of interesting and relatable characters. The relationship dynamics between Nick and Julia are immensely readable, but teens will also be driven to keep reading to discover what happens to Julia and her family’s campground. VERDICT Recommended for collections serving teens, especially where romance is in demand.
– School Library Journal

Readers will enjoy Julia’s droll narration and appreciate her tough situation and conflicted feelings for Nick. Sure, the story evolves into a fairy-tale romance with a miraculous resolution, but who wouldn’t want to daydream about a perfect prince showing up to help save the day?
– Booklist

I devoured this story in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down and found myself captivated by the romance sparking between Nick and Julia. There’s so much bad in their past that it helps them to bond and it’s also very real to others who have dealt with relatives dying or the impending loss of a home. The ending is one of the best I’ve read in a while and I loved how everything came together.
– YA Bookshelf

A coming of age tale with an environmental angle, Summer Constellations, sparkles with humour and sizzles with a dreamy romance, hitting all the right notes, leaving the reader satisfied. An excellent choice for those who enjoy a smart summer romance layered with varied and well developed characters who are as natural and refreshing as a summer breeze off the lake.”
– BR Myers

If you have never been so far into the wilderness that there was no light pollution at all, you are missing out on an incredible experience. Those of us who have been there, will recognize the author’s authenticity. It is impossible to fake a proper description of the vastness of the summer sky at night if you’ve never seen it with your own eyes. This setting is the perfect place for romance to bloom… This is a feel good tale about overcoming adversity when the odds are stacked against you, with a side of young love that will have teen readers sighing with anticipation and older readers looking back at that time in their lives with nostalgia.
– Amie’s Book Reviews

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