In the Arms of Stone Angelsby Jordan Dane
Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl's body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me.
Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can't get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he's not in juviethat he's in a mental hospital, locked in his
Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl's body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me.
Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can't get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he's not in juviethat he's in a mental hospital, locked in his tormented brain at the worst moment of his lifeI can't turn my back on him again.
No one wants me to see him. My mom doesn't trust me. The town sheriff still thinks I was involved in the murder. And the other kids who knew the dead girl are after me.
I'm as trapped as White Bird. And when I touch him, I get sucked into his living hell, a vision quest of horrifying demons and illusions of that night. Everything about him scares me now, but I have to do something. This time I can't be a coward. This time I have to be his friend.
Even if I get lost, as well
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Charlotte, North Carolina
Two nights before Mom kidnapped me and screwed up my summer, she told me I was going with her. I didn't want to go back to Oklahoma, but she said I was too young to stay home alone. The real truth was that she didn't trust me. I'd given her plenty of reasons to feel that way. And I had the razor scars to prove it. After she told me, I screamed into her face until I shook all over.
"You never listen. When are you gonna stop blaming me for what happened?" I wanted to throw something. Anything! Instead I turned my back on her and headed for my room.
"You come back here, Brenna. We're not done." My mom yelled after me, but I knew she wouldn't follow.
Not this time.
My heart was pounding and my face felt swollen and hot. I had been out of control and couldn't stop my rage. And when I got in my mother's face, I had seen myself yelling like I was outside my body. From behind my eyesin the heat of the momentI usually don't remember much. But this time I was outside looking down. And I saw my mom's disappointment.
I knew she was afraid of meand for me. And I still couldn't stop.
I'm a freak. I'm toxic. I don't know how to change and I'm not sure I want to. When I got to my room, I slammed my door so hard that a framed photo of my dead grandmother fell off a wall in the hallway. The glass shattered into a million pieces.
I didn't clean it up.
In my bathroom, I puked until I had nothing left but dry heaves. Whenever I felt like everything was out of controlthat my life wasn't my ownthat's when I usually hurled. I knew getting sick wasn't normal, but I didn't care. I refused to let Mom in on my little self-inflicted wound. I didn't want the attention.
When I went to bed that night, I wanted to be alone, but I felt my mom in the house. Hiding in the dark of my bedroom wasn't enough. And when the tears came, I couldn't stand being inside anymore. I slipped out my window in my boxers and tank top, like I usually do, and ran into the open field behind my house toward the old cemetery.
I didn't make it to the stone angels.
I ran, screaming, until my throat hurt. I knew no one would come and no one could hear me, but I wasn't sure anyone would care if I kept running. When I finally dropped to my knees, I collapsed onto my back and stared up into the stars. My chest was heaving and sweat poured off my body, making the cuts on my bare legs sting. Brambles and weeds had torn up my skin, but the pain wasn't enough. It was never enough.
My mom had given me no choice. In two days, we'd drive back to Shawano, a town in Oklahoma that I couldn't leave fast enough when I was fourteen.
Just thinking about going backeven after two yearsmade me sick. I couldn't catch my breath, no matter how hard I tried. I was dizzy and my chest hurt real bad. And when I thought I would die, I was surprised at how hard I fought to breathe. I had to think about something else, to stop from getting sick again.
That's when my thoughts turned to White Bird and I pictured his face the way I remembered him from before. Seeing him in my mind calmed me even though being involved with him back then had gotten me into trouble. People in Shawano already saw both of us as losers. And my turning him in to Sheriff Logan didn't change that.
In fact, it made things worse. The sheriff connected the dots and interrogated me as an accomplice. He just didn't understand how wrong he was.
Reporting the murder had torn me apart. I couldn't believe White Bird, a boy I trusted with everything that I was, could do such a thing. Seeing him that day made me question everything I believed about him. And I'd never seen a dead body before. The sight had terrified me. I had to tell what I saw. I couldn't just walk away and pretend it didn't happen. But in the seconds it took me to call 911trying to do the right thingmy life would change forever. And there was no way for me to know how bad it would get.
After the sheriff cleared me, I was released and never charged, but that didn't mean I was innocent in the eyes of everyone in town. And it didn't mean my mom wouldn't feel the pain of guilt by association. Her real estate business dried up and I knew she blamed me.
I never liked that boy. Now look what you've done.
I heard her words over and over in my head. And I can still see the look in my grandmother's eyes the day we left Oklahoma and moved to North Carolina. I talked to my grandmother on the phone plenty, but I heard it in her voice. Even Grams had lost faith and she died not believing in me. Not even the stone angels gave me comfort the day she left this world behind. And when I didn't go to her funeralbecause I believed Grams wouldn't want me thereI think my mother was relieved.
Now my mom had to settle my grandmother's estate and get her old house ready to sell. At least that's what she gave me as the reason we had to drive back. I'm not sure I believed her. I was more convinced that she wanted to torture me for what I had done to her life, too.
Lying on my back in the field, I stared into the universe and its gazillion winks of light and made a pact that I would never lie to the stars or make promises I wouldn't keep. Whatever I promised under the night sky should be honest and true because stars were ancient beings that watched over the planet. They wouldn't judge me. Every star was a soul who had died and broken free after they'd learned the lesson they had been born to master.
Me? I was in remedial class. I had more than a lifetime to go. Plus I had a feeling some Supreme Being had me in detention, too. So, speaking the truth, I had to admit that a part of me wanted to go back and see what had happened to White Bird.
But a darker, scarier part wished I'd been the one he had killed under that bridge. And that was the honest to God truth.
Three Days Later on I- 40Morning
"You hungry? There's a truck stop ahead. We can get some breakfast."
My mother's voice jarred me. On day two of our trip, I'd been staring out the car window watching nothing but fence posts, scrub brush and billboards fade into early-morning oblivion. Not even my fascination with friggin' roadkill had brought me out of my waking coma. And I hadn't spoken much to Mom since she'd told me about this road trip to hell.
"Whatever." I mumbled so she'd have to ask me what I'd said.
She never did.
Mom filled up the tank of our Subaru and pulled in front of a small truck stop cafe. Inside, the place smelled like cigarette smoke and old grease. And as I expected, everyone stared at me. I was used to it. I wasn't your average Abercrombie girl. I didn't wear advertising brand names on my body.
It was a life choice. A religion.
I got my clothes from Dumpster diving and Goodwill, anything I could stitch together that would make my own statement. Today I wore a torn jean jacket over a sundress with leggings that I'd cut holes into. And I had a plaid scarf draped around my neck with a cap pulled down on my head. My "screw you" toes were socked away in unlaced army boots. And I hid behind a huge pair of dark aviator sunglasses, a signature accessory and only one in a weird collection I carried with me. I liked the anonymity of me seeing out when no one saw in.
The overall impact was that I looked like an aspiring bag lady. A girl's got to have goals.
In short, I didn't give a shit about fitting in with the masses and it showed. I'd given up the idea of fitting in long ago. The herd mentality wasn't for me. And since I made things up as I went, people staring came with the territory. Mom picked a spot by a window and I shuffled my boots behind her and slid into the booth.
I grabbed a menu on the table and pretended to look at it while I played with my split ends.
"Do you have to do that here?"
Neither one of us expected an answer.
I seriously hated my hair. It was long, thin and stringy, like me. A washed-out blond color that bordered on red. In the frickin' sun I looked like my damned head was on fire.
"You ready to order?" The waitress didn't even pretend to smile.
I asked for nachos with chili and my mom ordered a salad and coffee. Neither of us had a firm grasp of the term breakfast. It was one of the few things we had in common. While we waited for our food, Mom opened a valve to her stream of consciousness. Guess the quiet drive made her feel entitled to cut loose. And her talkative mood didn't change after we got our order. She jumped from one topic to another with her one-sided conversation, spewing words into the void like people do on Twitter.
Me? I scribbled in a spiral notebook while she talked. I always had a notepad stuffed in my knapsack and a collection of old notes piled in my closet back in North Carolina. Whenever I got an idea for clothes I wanted to make or a line of poetry or a lyric that got stuck in my head and wouldn't come out until I wrote it down, that's what usually went on paper. All I was working on now was a layered hoodie skirt thingee that was beginning to look an awful lot like a Snuggie. It looked like crap, but I probably wasn't drawing it right. Maybe Dana would wear it.
My only real friend in NC was Dana Biggers, who'd been texting me. She was okay, tolerable even. I hadn't written her back. She was asking too many questions about my trip and I didn't want to explain it, thinking I might tell her too much. I'd worked hard at keeping my old life in Oklahoma a mystery. I had wanted to reinvent myself and start over. Texting her back might ruin that, so I didn't. She'd get over it.
Dana was Wiccan and she practiced magic 24/7. Because of her, I got a B- in biology this term. It was the only class we shared, so I figured she had the goods if she could deliver one shining moment in a lifetime of my underachievement. We both needed extra credit, so after we dissected our frog, we took the teacher's challenge and removed the brain whole. I used a blade, but Dana got her Wiccan mojo on and chanted her part. The frog's brain squished out in one piece. The teacher shook his head, but gave us the credit anyway.
Dana swears that I was a witch in another life. Who am I to argue with that? I know she's full of shit, but she lets me make clothes for her and she doesn't laugh when I read her my old poems. Like I said, she was okay. Kind of cool, actually.
Since I'd left Oklahoma, I hadn't written anything. I missed it, but I had a hole in me that I couldn't fill with poetry or music or making clothes. And unlike Mom and what she was doing now, words didn't come easy for me, not after what had happened two years ago.
Although I couldn't be certain, I figured Mom's talking was her way of making an effort to bond. And I had to give her props for timing. I was captive in a moving vehicle for two days. And if she didn't give me a brain bleed from the ritual, she had a pretty good shot at nabbing my attention once in a while. Picking at my nachos, I'd only heard every six and a half words as I scribbled until she finally got my full attention.
"You know I heard that boy is still locked away in a mental hospital outside Shawano." Mom kept her face down and shoveled her fork like she was being timed. And her talking about White Bird, and referring to him as "that boy," had forced me to listen, especially when she said, "They say he never came out of it."
I stopped scribbling. Cold.
Parents always had "they" to back them up. And "they" were always right. Kids had squat. It was hard to compete with "they." I wanted to roll my eyes because I knew that would piss her off, but I got to thinking about White Bird and what "still" meant.
"Still? You mean he's been there since " I couldn't finish. All this time, after I had moved away and taken my miserable butt to North Carolina, White Bird had been locked away. Knowing that twisted my gut into a knot. I felt worse than I ever did before.
And that was saying something.
"Yes. That's why you were never asked to testify. His case never went to trial because of his condition," Mom explained.
I had been so wrapped in my own misery that I had missed the obvious. Mom was right. And I'd never asked about going to court, to say what had happened. I should have known.
I should have thought about what that meant for him, but I never did.
"Why didn't you " Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! I wanted to scream, but instead I turned to look out at the parking lot and said, "Never mind."
All I wanted to do was lash out at Mom and blame her for my frustration. I knew it wasn't fair, but I also knew she'd let me get away with it.
White Bird had never gotten his day in court. Where had he gone? Was he still inside his head, unable to find his way out of a dark maze? Or had he clicked off like a light switch, never to return? What had happened that night to cause such trauma?
"He never says anything. That boy just sits and stares at nothing." Mom looked up from her salad, making sure I got the point. "Maybe next time you'll listen to me when I tell you some kid isn't right in the head."
Meet the Author
Jordan Dane makes up stuff for a living. She hears voices in her head and considers that to be a good thing. Her stories weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Her debut adult book, No One Heard Her Scream, was named Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. She writes YA novels for Harlequin TEEN: In the Arms of Stone Angels, On a Dark Wing, and the Hunted series. She lives in Texas with her husband and two rescue dogs.
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Seriously when I read the synopsis of the novel I knew it would be good! Who doesn’t want to read a good old supernatural murder mystery? As I began to read into the life of my new favorite female main character, Brenna Nash, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued The girl can see dead people after all! She also goes to sleep in the graveyard and she saw her best friend, White Bird leaning over a dead girls body. Kinda creepy… Anyways I constantly found myself thinking, “Poor Brenna” when she moved back to the town where she was accused of being a part of Heather Madsen’s murder. The novel had emotions stirring in me that only a nicely crafted novel can. All of Brenna’s memories from her and White Bird’s childhood had my heart melting, or whenever Brenna was in trouble I found myself hoping that she would be okay. Now I know that some of you are thinking, ‘why would she get in trouble?’ Well, it’s an easy answer…see for some unknown reason (which becomes clear at the end of the novel) all of the popular people have it out for Brenna, hoping that she won’t try to open back up Heather Madsen’s case. How better to keep her quiet than by humiliating her? Something I found interesting was how Jordan Dane described some of the Euchee traditions that White Bird was involved in, and how she described White Bird’s personal hell that he was trapped in. And I absolutely love, love, loved getting to see from Jade Deluca, Derek Logan and Sheriff Logan’s POV, mainly because I found myself wondering, ‘why do I have to know what they’re doing?’, and got the answer during the explosive ending that I did not see coming. At. All. Like, honestly when I came across the ending my heart stopped beating, it was just so unexpected and unpredictable. Reader beware. I recommend this to anybody who wants to read an awesome, paranormal murder mystery mixed in with teen life, with some revenge thrown into a story with such a great ending. Totally unexpected. Totally loved it.
I loved this book it was wonderful. I wish i could meet white bird. Soooooo so good.
Brenna Nash sees dead people. Not only does she see them, but she likes sleeping in cemeteries. This is her other "home". Whereas most people would be creeped out by being in a cemetery after dark, Brenna finds comfort there. Brenna spends most of her childhood as an outcast. She never really fits in. While most girls enjoy shopping and playing dress up, Brenna likes playing outdoors and getting muddy. When she meets Isaac Henry, or White Bird as he prefers to be called, she finds the one person who doesn't judge her. White Bird is a half-breed, "part Euchee Indian and part whatever", and he is an outcast like Brenna. He is an orphan, and wants more than anything to be welcomed in to the Euchee tribe, but since he is a half-breed, they won't let him in. White Bird and Brenna understand one another, and eventually her fourteen-year-old self falls in love with him. This sounds like the perfect setup for a nice teen romance, but that all changes when Brenna finds White Bird kneeling over the body of a girl Brenna went to school with, and Brenna turns him in, pegging him as the murderer. Two years later Brenna and her mother are now living in South Carolina, but when her grandmother dies, they are forced to go back to Oklahoma to clean up the house so it can be sold. When they get back to town, Brenna discovers that White Bird had never been tried for the murder. Instead, he has been locked up in a mental institution in a catatonic state. Brenna sneaks off to meet White Bird and is shocked at what she discovers and is even more shocked at what she sees in a vision when she touches him. She knows he is trying to tell her something but she doesn't know what. She decides she owes it to him to try and piece together everything, but there are people in the town that want to leave White Bird just the way he is, and they will do anything to keep Brenna quiet. From the first chapter I immediately knew who Brenna was. Sometimes it takes a while to get a feel for a character, and what makes them tick, but Dane introduces the reader to Brenna so effortlessly and with such pin-point accuracy you feel like you are jumping in to a story with someone you've known for years. Everything about Brenna's character was believable. Her FU attitude, her angst and the thoughts going through her head were all things that made her seem real. The rest of the characters are just as tightly drawn. I never found myself thinking "Wait, that seems totally out of character for that person." The plot was perfectly paced and the resolution hit me like a smack to the head. I totally didn't see it coming. Jordan Dane has written an amazing, breath-taking young adult novel. It has paranormal elements mixed with romance, Indian folklore and murder mystery. This book had everything I could have wanted in a great, suspenseful read. The only problem that I had with it was that it ended, and I wanted it to keep going.
Brenna Nash is in trouble. Her mother has just moved them back to Shawano, Oklahoma, the site where two years ago she was all but accused (but not convicted) of a terrible deed. It's hard enough for Brenna to live with what she saw her then-boyfriend White Bird do, but the residents of Shawano certainly aren't going to cut her any slack. However, with strength she wasn't sure she possessed, Brenna go to visit White Bird, re-living that horrible night and the days leading up to it. But if bringing so much pain to the surface reveals the truth, it may be worth it after all. This is a rather dark book. Really. Brenna is very moody and her angst spills off every page. It pained me to watch Brenna go through such torture from the other kids without being able to stand up for herself. But it was nice to read scenes from her mother's POV as well, because the reader saw how Brenna's mom really was trying to help. There is a light paranormal element throughout the story, but for the most part it is all reality. Jordan Dane has thought closely about her characters and their actions, and it shows through in the dialog especially. I must admit that the first half of the book was pretty intense, even for me. Readers who stick it out past the brutal scenes will be rewarded with a much more mellow second half, as well as answers to all of their questions. A surprising read and a worthy journey.
In Shawano, Oklahoma when Brenna Nash was fourteen years old, she came upon her best friend Isaac (White Bird) Henry rocking over the corpse of Heather Madsen in his hands and mumbling insanely. She called 911. Fearing retaliation from the townsfolk for her daughter doing the responsible thing, Mom takes Brenna with her as she moves to North Carolina leaving behind their family. Two years later, Brenna's maternal grandmother dies. Mom accompanied by a reluctant Brenna returns home to fix up the house in order to sell it. Unable to ignore White Bird, Brenna learns he is in a catatonic state in an asylum. Although she believes her Brenna was involved in the Madsen murder, Mom proves right about the town; Sheriff Logan also thinks Brenna was involved in the homicide and teens vandalize their home. However, though warned to stay away from White Bird, Brenna somehow communicates with him when she touches him at the mental hospital. The horror she "sees' is the hell he resides in filled with demons and worse. Her only recourse is to turn to Joe "Spirit Walker" Sunne who does not trust her. In the Arms of Stone Angels is an engaging teen rural fantasy starring a strong cast who evolve as events happen, especially the young lead. Brenna at first is overwhelmingly filled with remorse for turning in her BFF, but knows she did the right thing though her emotional regret supersedes her defense mechanism logic. Although too many threads are left unanswered, readers will enjoy a stop at "A Town Without Pity" (Gene Pitney) as Native American mythos blends with a whodunit in Jordan Dane's entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner
Lately, I have been reading so many book about sacrifice. And if one thing I learn is that sacrifice means a lot. It means you love the person enough to do anything. Brenna accused her friend of the imaginable. She never thought he could ever do anything like murder. Hurt by the revelations, Brenna moves away and comes back. Little did she know that she find out exactly what happened. This book touched a lot of issues. There was racism, sexist, and plain old meanness. Brenna was sought out by people because she was a white woman dating Indian boy. Their love was forbidden and the town frown upon it big time. So much that they hurt Brenna just to send a message. I was appalled by their actions and desperately wanted it all to stop. Nevertheless, Brenna never got their message and did what she could to clear her best friends name no matter what it took. You go girl!! White Bird is a good young man. His reasons and his ties behind the murder were not what I thought. You know how you read a book or watch a movie and you think you know whats going to happen but in the end it was the exact opposite? Well I thought I knew, but Ms. Dane kept everything in the book really suspenseful and on my toes. The research and information on the Indian tribe I loved learning. If one thing I love is to learn new things from a book. I learned a lot about the Indian tribe and the traditions that they have.