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4.1 11
by Elana K. Arnold

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A grieving girl meets a boy with mystical powers in this passionate love story.

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to


A grieving girl meets a boy with mystical powers in this passionate love story.

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop."

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.

"Will appeal to many teens, especially fans of the Twilight series."--Booklist

"Filled with tension and angst. . . . Readers will be looking for the next installment."--School Library Journal

"A poignant novel of loss and grief, but also of hope."--VOYA

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Scarlett's life is divided into two eras after her brother's death. Before Ronny Died, Scarlett was a secure, happy sophomore with a popular boyfriend and parents who ran a bed-and-breakfast on the island of Catalina. After Ronny Died, she is estranged from her best friend and boyfriend, struggling with an eating disorder and depression, and largely ignored by her grieving parents. Her only remaining love, horseback riding, leads her to a chance encounter with Will Cohen, who becomes her new passion. The mystery surrounding Will is more than what would typically surround an attractive stranger in a small island community. Will is not only attracted to Scarlett, but he also coincidentally shows up whenever she is in danger. Just as their relationship develops and she begins to emerge from her depression, Will inexplicably breaks up with her. After Scarlett has a riding accident, his unique abilities become clearer and will likely be developed further in the planned sequel. This story has many elements of popular supernatural romances. However, what sets it apart is the source of Will's gifts, rooted in mystical Judaism, which makes it seem more plausible than its supernatural counterparts. The attraction between Will and Scarlett is filled with tension and angst, their exploration of literature, God, and the purpose of life is interesting, and the plot moves along at a compulsively readable pace. Readers will be looking for the next installment.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
From the Publisher
"Will appeal to many teens, especially fans of the Twilight series."—Booklist

"Filled with tension and angst. . . . Readers will be looking for the next installment."—School Library Journal

"A poignant novel of loss and grief, but also of hope."—VOYA

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The death of her beloved older brother from a cerebral aneurysm has divided sixteen-year-old Scarlett Wentworth's life into two parts, "Before Ronny Died" and "After Ronny Died." After Ronny Died, Scarlett's parents give up hosting guests to their bed-and-breakfast on isolated Catalina Island, and Scarlett gives up on eating, trying to exert what control she can over life's tragic unpredictability by punishing her body through anorexia and cutting. Then brilliant, beautiful Will Cohen arrives on Catalina Island, fleeing demons of his own and mysteriously driven to save Scarlett from any threats to her safety, including those posed by Scarlett herself. Arnold's debut novel serves up a rich mix of romance and Jewish mysticism, as Scarlett seeks to understand the metaphysical and spiritual sources of Will's paranormal gift for rescue. Scarlett's family's raw grief over Ronny's loss is poignantly rendered, and her friendship with fashion-queen Lily adds warmth and humor to the story. Although Scarlett's narrative voice mocks her classmates' fascination with Will's romantic rescues—she wryly observes the other girls are plainly wishing they could "suffer some mishap so that [their boyfriends] would have a chance to save [them] from it"—the novel seems calculated to fuel precisely this kind of rescue fantasy in adolescent girl readers. Fans of the "Twilight" series should welcome Scarlett and Will's dark and codependent romance. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
Scarlett's peaceful life on Catalina Island bifurcated last spring into the time Before Ronny Died and her miserable present. With the death of her brother, all the life seemed to go out of her family, too: Her mother has retreated into a pill-enhanced haze of grief, while her father gardens ineffectually. Scarlett copes by riding her beloved mare and slowly starving herself. When she meets a beautiful young man with startling green eyes on the trail, he seems to have been looking for her: Why? Green-eyed Will Cohen then turns up in school, which provokes obnoxious possessiveness in her boyfriend. But Scarlett can't deny her attraction, and it seems to be mutual….Arnold stuffs way too much into this novel, piling dating violence onto cutting onto anorexia onto depression. And that's just the first half. The second half swerves out of realistic problem-novel territory into mysticism, as Scarlett begins to study the Kabbalah under the tutelage of Will's rabbi/theology professor father--it turns out Will is more than just gorgeous, he is a modern-day incarnation of extreme Jewish holiness. Although Arnold achieves the occasional fresh turn of phrase--Scarlett shreds a note from her contrite boyfriend into "a nice little pile of apology confetti"--too often she settles for cliché, with yearning skin, fluttering hearts and searing glances aplenty bundled into sentences that seem to go on forever. Schlock. (Paranormal romance. 13-16)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Age Range:
14 Years

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The End

All around me, the island prepared to die. August was ending, so summer had come, bloomed, and waned. The tall, dry grass on the trail through the hills cracked under my mare’s hooves as we wound our way up toward the island’s heart.

Summer sun had bleached the grass the same blond as my hair, which was pulled into a rough ponytail at the nape of my neck. The straw cowboy hat I always wore when I rode was worn ­out too, beginning to split and fray along the seams.

The economy had done its part over the past few years to choke the life out of the small island I called home—­Catalina, a little over twenty miles off the coast of Los Angeles. This summer, the island had felt remarkably more comfortable, as the mainland’s tourists had largely stayed away. But even though it was nice to have some breathing room for a change, it came at a price. Our main town, Avalon, had seen the closure of two restaurants and a hotel, and my parents’ bed-­and-­breakfast had gone whole weeks without any guests.

It was selfish that I enjoyed the solitude. Selfish and wrong, but undeniably true—­solitude was a luxury, a rare commodity on a twenty-­two-­mile-­long island that I shared with three-­thousand-­plus people, all of whom seemed to look at me differently lately, now that my brother was dead.

Yes, death was all around. The dry, hot air of August pressed down on me, my brother would not be coming home, and Avalon seemed to be folding in on itself under the weight of the recession, like a butterfly that’s dried up, its papery wings faded.

As if she could sense my mood, my mare, Delilah, tossed her pretty head and pulled at her bit, yearning to run. Delilah was also a luxury, one my parents had been in the habit of reminding me we really couldn’t afford—­until Ronny died. Then, suddenly, they didn’t say much to me at all.

I get it, your kids are supposed to outlive you, it’s the natural order of things, but since Ronny had died, it was like I was dead too.

That was how I measured time now. There were the things that happened Before Ronny Died, and then there was Since Ronny Died. It was as sure a division of Before and After to our family as the birth of Jesus is to Christians.

Before Ronny Died, Mom smiled. Before Ronny Died, Daddy made plans for expanding our family B&B. Before Ronny Died, I was popular . . . as popular as you can be in a class of sixty-­four students.

That was all different now. Since Ronny Died, my mother didn’t seem to notice that a film of dust coated all the knickknacks in the front room. My dad didn’t weed the flower beds. More than a tanking economy was sinking our family business. We were bringing it down just as surely, our gloomy faces unable to animate into real smiles. We probably scared off the guests.

Ronny died last May in the middle of a soccer game. Cause of death: grade 6 cerebral aneurysm. He was just finishing up his freshman year at UCLA. We weren’t with him. The distance between Catalina Island and the mainland seems a lot farther than twenty miles when your brother’s body is waiting for you on the other side.

I blinked hard to clear these thoughts. They would stay with me anyway, I knew, but I let Delilah have her head, knowing from experience that while we were galloping, at least, my mind would feel empty.

My mare didn’t let me down. Twitching her tail with excitement, Delilah broke into a gallop, her short Arabian’s stride lengthening as she gathered speed, her head pushed out as if to smell the wind, her wide nostrils flaring. Her coat gleamed red in the afternoon sun.

Ronny used to joke that Delilah should have been named Scarlett, not me. Ronny was a literal kind of guy. And he liked to say that I should be called Delilah, because of my long hair. That was stupid, of course; in the Bible, Delilah wasn’t the one with the long hair. It was her lover, Samson, who she betrayed by chopping off his hair—­the source of his strength—­while he slept, damning him to death at the hands of the Philistines.

Ronny just shrugged when I explained all this to him. Sometimes he could be awfully dumb, for such a smart guy.

I wanted to cut off my hair after Ronny died. I stood in the kitchen the afternoon of the funeral, dressed in one of my mother’s suits left over from her days as a lawyer, back before she and Daddy decided to move to the island to open a B&B. In my hands, I held a long serrated knife. There was a perfectly good reason for this: I couldn’t find the scissors.

But when my mother came into the kitchen, fresh from burying her only son, and saw me standing in the kitchen with a knife in my hand, she freaked out. She started screaming, loud, piercing screams, as if I were an intruder, as if I planned to use that knife against her. Or maybe she thought I was planning to use it against myself, pressing the blade into flesh instead of hair. Then Daddy ran in and saw me there, and his eyes filled with tears, something I’d seen more times that week than I’d seen in the sixteen years of my life up till that point. Dad took the knife gently from my hand before leading my mother to bed.

Afterward, I couldn’t seem to gather the strength to cut my hair. I had wanted to cut it because Ronny had loved it, though he’d never have admitted as much. He used to braid it while we watched TV. I wanted to cut it off and then burn it.

But my mother’s expression had taken all the momentum out of my plans. So as I rode Delilah through the open meadow at the heart of the island, I felt the heavy slap of my ponytail against my back, hanging like a body from a noose in the elastic band that ensnared it.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Scarlett Wenderoth’s life was abruptly turned upside down after her older brother’s unexpected death. Consumed with her anguish and largely ignored by her grieving parents, Scarlett copes by taking her beloved mare around the small island where she lives. While out on a ride, she meets a boy she has never seen before, Will Cohen. Recently moved to the island with his father, a university professor and rabbi, Will is an enigma. Seemingly older than his years, Will has an uncanny knack of appearing at the exact moment that Scarlett needs help, even when she needs to be saved from herself. A tender relationship begins to develop, but it is threatened by a revelation from Will that the very gift that brings them together may tear them apart. The novel tackles a myriad of topics ranging from exploration of faith to self-harm to sexual assault . . . Still, the ineffable bond that draws Scarlett and Will together will appeal to many teens, especially fans of the Twilight series."

Meet the Author

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. Sacred is her debut novel.

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Sacred 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down, this novel had and intresting plot and I didn't suspect most of the turn of events that come. Overall it was a great book and I highly recommend it.
TeenBlurb More than 1 year ago
“…Since coming to the island, Scarlett, I’ve felt pulled closer and closer to you…like you’re the earth, and I’m the moon caught in your orbit. I can’t pull away, I don’t want to pull away.” -Elana K. Arnold, Sacred Sacred is a roller coaster of emotions. From the being the story is marked with tragedy. Scarlett and her family live on a small island off the coast of California, called Catalina. Scarlett’s family was a regular family, but everything change when her brother Ronny died. Now her family is a husk of what it used to be. Scarlett is lost and cannot find her way back to herself. She isn’t eating or hanging out with her friends. The only time she really ever forgets the pain is when she rides her horse, Delilah. Those close to her notice that she is skinner, with dark circles under her eyes, but Scarlett blocks out their voices. She does not want to be helped, she wants to feel anything, even if it is only discomfort and pain. One day there is a new arrival to the island-Will Cohen. With his brilliant green eyes, and dark curly hair, even in her grief shrouded world, Scarlett notices him. He seems to pop up at the times she needs him the most. It does not take long for Scarlett and Will to acknowledge the connection they have toward one another, and to act on it. Scarlett is crazy about Will, and even though her mother is locked in her own grief stricken mind forsaking everyone else and her father is lost without her mother, she is happy! She is gaining weight back, she is smiling and laughing-she is living. Scarlett learns that Will has a secret-a mystifying and impossible secret. Will this secret take Will away from her? What will she do to be with him. Will love conquer all? Sacred is a complex story that sets the reader right in the middle of a grief stricken family. The reader is shown how each member deals with the lost of their loved one-and how that choice impacts others in the family. Elana K. Arnold writes a moving tale of a girl who is lost and how she deals with her emotions and pain. The rough climb out of her anguish and suffering motivates the reader to cheer and urge Scarlett onward in her journey. The strength of the human spirit and it’s thirst to survive-to move forward really shines through in this incredible story!
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
The synopsis is mysterious. I didn't know if this was going to be a contemporary book or a paranormal book. I didn't know where it was heading, and that intrigued me. What I didn't realize was that I would finish the book still not knowing what happens. This was a confusing book for me. There doesn't seem to be a focus for the plot except that Will and Scarlett were meant to be. The beginning was okay. It wasn't outstanding, but I could see a general course for the novel. Scarlett is depressed, anorexic, and self harms by denying her body's needs. However, the plot doesn't end with Will saving her and righting her life. It introduces a paranormal element with Will's abilities. This may still have worked with the plot; instead, it leads to difficulties in their relationship and a lot of drama that doesn't make much sense in hindsight. In short, despite the paranormal aspect of the book, this reads like a normal high school drama and not even a good one at that. There is the exposition and some rising action; however, I can't name a definite climax or change happening, the falling action takes forever, and there is no real sense of resolution. By the end, I was skimming pages in the hopes of finding some interesting development. Honestly, Scarlett annoyed me for the most part. She doesn't treat herself well, and her relationships are a mess. She stays with Andy, though she isn't attracted to him anymore, if she ever was, and he's a jerk whose only purpose for being with her seems to be getting into her pants. She and Lily and best friends, but they mostly only hang around, talk about guys, and dress up. She is inexplicably drawn to Will from the start, and they're perfect for each other. I could overlook the instalove because Will's abilities pull him towards her, but the changes in his behavior after they begin dating are out of character. Normal jealousy I can understand, but Will typically has such good control over his behavior that his actions seem groundless and unbelievable. In fact, the main characters are relatively unstable in their attitudes and motivations, they don't show much, if any, growth, and they fall flat for me. I do understand some of Scarlett's feelings at the beginning. However, I couldn't feel her emotions. It may have helped to know how close she was to her brother, but little information is given other than the circumstances of his death and a few other details. I can't get a feel for him as a person and how his loss would impact his family so severely. With no clear sense of direction in the plot and with flat, unrelatable characters, Sacred rambles through a time of change in Scarlett's life. I say rambles because that's what it feels took place. There are no major developments in Scarlett's life after she dumps Andy and dates Will, and there are no periods of intense emotions that made me feel as though I was there with Scarlett. Overall, this book fell flat for me along with its characters. It just wasn't for me.
haley18 More than 1 year ago
3.5 rating. I really enjoyed Sacred. It sure did end up a much 'deeper' read than I thought it was going to be, but that made it an even more intense story! I read this book in one sitting and can say I am definitely excited to see where book two will go. Sacred follows Scarlett who is slowly turning into nothing, she is grasping at straws but nothing is helping her move on from her brothers death. Her father puts on a fake front, and her mother barely acknowledges her. The only comfort she is finding in life is going to the stables and riding her horse Delilah. Then she meets Will who seems to be showing up everywhere, at first she is annoyed by his presence, but eventually he will turn into the one person that can bring her back to life..but if he leaves Scarlett..she may fall completely off the ledge. This was quite the mysterious read! Which I personally loved, I hate when books are predictable! Sacred thankfully kept my attention and kept me wondering till well past the last page. Will is so mysterious and you have no idea what he is up to, is he a vampire or something? A Ghost? Werewolf? He thankfully is not any of those things, but something completely different that if you want to find out..well you'll just have to read Sacred! Sacred kept me on the edge of my seat, I was never quite sure what was going to happen to Scarlett! Scarlett was an unpredictable character that literally shocked me at some points while reading. I found myself so worried about her, which to me just shows what a great writer the author Elana is. It was very easy to connect to Scarlett, and really feel what she was feeling. Besides the great character to reader aspect, I also really loved Elana's imagery, I usually don't like long descriptions or detailed scenery, but Elana's were so beautiful and so easy to imagine that I found those parts of the book actually being my favorite...compared to my least favorite for a change. ANNNDDDD last but certainly not least there was Will our love interest! I really enjoyed Will, I felt for a YA character he was very mature, he never once annoyed me or made me role my eyes at the things he said. I found him to be quite an interesting character too that kept my attention. He cared alot for Scarlett and really just wanted her to be happy. Overall he was just a great love interest and I am looking forward to seeing him and Scarlett's relationship progress in book two, Splendor! All in all, I really enjoyed Sacred, the writing was amazing, it had great main characters, and completely captivated me till I finished the book. The only complaint I have is that normally I don't enjoy any religion references in books which this one has quite often, but that is just a personal pet peeve with me, and even with the religion talk I still really enjoyed this. If you are looking for a YA novel that is something a little different but awesome, I suggest picking up Sacred. (:
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
Sacred by Elana K. Arnold was a tough read in the beginning.  Not because it wasn’t good!  But because the subject and emotions that were found in those first chapters was heartbreaking. Scarlett and her family are still struggling with the death of her older brother, Ronny.  After an unexpected cerebral aneurysm in the middle of a soccer game, the sudden loss becomes unbearable to this family.  With a mother who is barely living, locking herself in the bedroom self medicating herself with sleeping pills to ease her pain, a father who is trying to keep the peace, and Scarlett who has chosen to harm herself in order deal with the loss. The thing is, Scarlett knows what she’s doing is bad for herself.  She can’t even bear to look at herself in the mirror, but all she knows now is emptiness and feeling hollow.  Her only escape is riding.  To feel while riding her horse along the trails.  And it’s on these same trails that Scarlett comes across Will.  Scared and alone on the trail, Will’s demeanour is anything but normal. But Scarlett soon learns that Will was not just some random tourist whom she will never see again.  It seems Will and his after have recently moved to Catalina Island to escape a secret of their own.  Scarlett instantly feels this pull towards Will, and it seems Will feels the same way.  Time and time again, Will plays the part of the hero, and rescues Scarlett time and time again.  Little does Scarlett realize that Will also seems to be saving her from herself. When I first started reading Sacred by Elana K. Arnold, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I was instantly pulled in by the emotional and powerful writing style of author, Elana K. Arnold.  The way in which she describes the after effects of Ronny’s death, and talks about just how much the loss is slowly tearing everyone apart.  With her descriptive writing, it was easy enough to get completely immersed in the Catalina Island.  Because of the beautiful description of the scenery and way of life for the locals, I am even more curious in wanting to visit and experience everything I read for myself. The characters found in the book are ones that I’m sure readers will be able to relate to, regardless of the subject matter.  It was really interesting to witness Scarlett’s struggles with her eating, and it was equally wonderful to read just how much support she has in the background…especially with a now non-existent mother.  And can I just say that I want my very own Lily!  She is a totally awesome best friend, and pretty much embodies just what a best friend should be.  Totally supportive, constantly looking out for Scarlett’s well being, not being overly pushy, and knowing what to say and day for whatever situation arises. And don’t even get me started on Will.  With the story containing a somewhat supernatural element, Will is one character that was so great to follow.  A sexy hero in waiting.  And the way he deals with Scarlett?  How sweet he is, how attentive, and how he is always at the right place at the right time.  There’s no way that anyone could NOT fall for Will. With a very contemporary subject matter and a dash of supernatural, readers will fall in love with the story of Scarlett and Will, the hurtles that they both must jump, and the way in which they both find each other during a dark time, and during time where they need each other the most.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'Sacred' is a beautiful young adult novel full of hope and romance. It follows Scarlett Wenderoth as she struggles to contain her grief after the death of her older brother. Scarlett's life has been roughly divided into Before Ronny Died and Since Ronny Died - and the parts that have been happening since his death have been really hard on her. Her parents are consumed with their own grief and trying to keep the family B&B running. Scarlett's only tether to life is her mare, Delilah, and her best friend Lily. Scarlett begins to lose weight at an alarming rate and her parents don't seem to even notice. She feels alone with her only outlet being Delilah. On one of their rides, she meets a mysterious guy named Will - who seems to ease Scarlett's grief and makes her feel safe. Scarlett and Will's relationship grows deeper and she finds herself feeling alive again - until Scarlett discovers that Will is hiding a secret that might bring everything they have to pieces. This was a fantastic young adult novel that revolves around first love and romance, but also deals with some deep issues such as death, loss, grief, family, self discovery, and trust. The characters are unique and very realistic. I especially liked Scarlett - she was a great lead character with her flaws and obvious issues, but she also showed character growth and the ability to have courage and to move on with life after a devastating loss. Will's character was a perfect fit to go along with Scarlett. He's an interesting and mysterious guy a first, but definitely has layers of his own once we get to know him. The setting was perfect for the novel - the small island of Catalina off the coast of California provided the perfect sense of isolation yet community that the characters needed. The plot was so sad but also filled with hope and romance as we see Scarlett blossom into the young woman she was meant to be. The novel's writing was enchanting and I couldn't put the book down. I was immediately drawn into the lyrical prose and the vivid descriptions. The pace was well done and the plot flowed effortlessly. I'm excited that there will be a sequel released this fall - I can't wait to see what will happen to Scarlett and Will next. Highly recommended for fans of YA fantasy and contemporary fiction. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Miwi More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Sacred and loved it! Scarlett and Will's relationship is full of mystery, tension, and longing and Scarlett's personal and family struggles are heartbreakingly real. Sacred has everything you remember from your own high school romances and everything you want in a coming-of-age novel. I highly recommend it to young and adult readers!
gentle_reader More than 1 year ago
As an adult fan of YA lit I so appreciate books that not only appeal to their target audience, but speak to the hearts and minds of us grownups, too. Sacred is a smart, satisfying read with a mystical thread running through its pages rather than spilling over with vampires and zombies. Sacred's heroine Scarlett is broken when we meet her on page one, yet manages to navigate the stormy waters of her life WITHOUT a rescue from Mister Right. To say more would risk spoiling Sacred's secrets for you, but no review of this book would be complete without a mention of how refreshing it is to read the story of a girl with a backbone. Kudos to Ms. Arnold for creating characters that will remain with you long after you finish this beautiful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rimbaud-the-bard More than 1 year ago
I give 'Sacred' five out of five stars. Living in southern California, I found it comforting and amusing to read a book that takes place just off the coastline. Despite its somewhat serious tone, 'Sacred' is capturing and uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found myself getting lost in the story. An incredible book!!