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Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl's life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters' safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to "protect" young women, is taking over the choices they make.
Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she's also dreaming about college and love and what she'll make of her life. When her dad "contracts" her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it's possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.
About the Author
CATHERINE LINKA was almost thrown out of boarding school for being "too verbal." Fortunately, she learned to channel her outspokenness and creative energy into writing. A passionate traveler who has visited Iceland, the Amazon, and the Arctic circle, Catherine has seen five types of whales in the wild, but no orcas. Yet. She doesn't believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots, because she had a broken hand. A Girl Called Fearless is her debut novel.
CATHERINE LINKA was almost thrown out of boarding school for being "too verbal." Fortunately, she learned to channel her outspokenness and creative energy into writing. A passionate traveler who has visited Iceland, the Amazon, and the Arctic circle, Catherine has seen five types of whales in the wild, but no orcas. Yet. She doesn’t believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots, because she had a broken hand. She is the author of A Girl Called Fearless.
Read an Excerpt
A Girl Called Fearless
By Catherine Linka
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Catherine Linka
All rights reserved.
Something was up with Dayla.
She stared out the window twisting a strand of hair around her finger as my bodyguard, Roik, drove us to my house. Usually, she'd be pawing through my purse for gum or lip gloss before we'd even cleared the school gates.
I tugged on her skirt, and she slapped my hand away before she caught herself. "Sorry, Avie," she whispered.
She glanced at Roik. "I'm fine," she said, but I knew: Day was saving the truth for later.
Roik turned off Arroyo, and I sat up in my seat. The Lean Dog was eight blocks away. I smoothed my hair and asked the universe to grant me a favor: red light at Fair Oaks. Come on. I could really use one today.
Green lights shot us past apartments, the hospital, the post office and sub shop. I glanced at my phone. Damn. We're too early.
One block away, Roik sped through a yellow, and I set my finger on the window button, but I didn't have much hope.
Up ahead, the light was green. Bright, annoying, missed-chance green. It flipped to yellow and then at the last second, red. Roik braked.
I leaned forward to block Day, because I couldn't trust her to behave. The rules were clear: I could lower the window, smile, and give Yates a wave, but no calling out. No arms outside the car. Bodyguards had their rules, and these were Roik's.
The smell of hamburgers hit me as I scanned the café windows. I breathed through my mouth, trying to evade the memories it triggered.
I spied Yates handing a customer a bottle of ketchup, and the guy shook a fry at him. They laughed like they were sharing a joke.
Roik tapped the accelerator. The light was going to change. Look over here, Yates.
Yates brushed his hair off his face and his blue eyes caught mine. He smiled and swiped his thumb down his nose.
I waved back, keeping my hand inside the car. I wasn't Fearless, but I loved how he called me that. My tongue ran over my now perfect tooth as I relived the skateboard and the cement steps. Yates giving me a hand up. The crazy awe in his voice when he said, "You're fearless!"
I wanted a shot of him just like this with his dark hair falling over one eye and his sideways smile — different from the one he slapped on for customers.
But if I took one, Roik would make me hand over my cell. A drive-by was one thing. A photo? Not happening.
The light turned green.
"You two would be perfect together," Day said.
My heart skipped, and I checked the rearview mirror. Roik was watching the traffic, so he must not have heard Day. But still.
"Don't be weird," I said. "He's like my big brother."
"Oh, right." She smiled slightly and gave me a look I didn't understand.
I ignored her. She was still holding on to that embarrassing crush I had on him when I was twelve. Yates and I had known each other forever. Even longer than I'd known Dayla, because our parents were old friends and our dads ran Biocure together.
These thirty seconds after school when I got to see Yates were the proof that someday soon, I'd have a normal life again. I'd go to college and hang out with guy friends like Yates and maybe — I'd even fall in love.
The world had changed in horrible ways, so Yates and I weren't allowed to talk or be alone together. Maybe I was lying to myself, but the connection we made through the glass made me feel that the future wasn't impossibly bleak.
Dayla huddled against the door. I didn't have any idea what was going on in her head, but it had to be bad.CHAPTER 2
"I'm pregnant," Dayla whispered.
My heart pounded as I tried not to look shocked.
The red eye on the security camera bore down on us. Dayla sat with her back turned to it, her legs stretched out on the lounge chair like we were just two girls innocently sunning on my balcony.
"Seth?" I spoke into my drink so the camera wouldn't get a clear shot.
Dayla blinked twice for yes, but we both knew I didn't need to ask. Her bodyguard was the only guy who'd gotten within fifty yards of her since her dad signed the Contract at her Sweet Sixteen. "Dad's going to murder me."
We looked at each other. Dayla had broken at least four clauses in her marriage contract. Sure, her dad was going to be pissed. Six million dollars, that's what Seth and Dayla had just cost him.
"What are you going to do?"
Dayla dropped her hand into the gap between our chairs and scooped the air like she was digging a hole.
"No!" She was going Underground. "You and ...?"
She blinked twice.
I got up and wrapped my arms around her. No, you can't go. You can't leave me.
Dayla buried her face in my hair, and I tilted mine toward the camera and beamed like she'd just asked me to be her maid of honor.
It was killing me, smiling like that and holding in how I really felt, but what else could she do? I made myself whisper, "Don't cry. They'll see you."
The border was at least a thousand miles from L.A., but she and Seth were going to make a run for it. Seth was looking at prison. The only choice left for them was to defect to Canada, the one country in the Americas that wouldn't send you back to the U.S. if you were running from a Contract.CHAPTER 3
Dayla didn't show up at school on Friday. At first, I thought she was late. Sometimes peaceful neighborhoods would turn wacko, and you'd have to take a detour.
As the morning dragged on, I couldn't stop looking at her chair. The emptiest place in the world: where your best friend is supposed to be, but isn't.
I messaged her about twenty times before lunch. "Day! It's Avie. Are you sick? Text me!"
But when she didn't get back to me by the end of school, I knew she and Seth had taken off. Maybe she was trying to protect me by not saying good-bye or telling me where she was going, but I felt like Scarpanol had just killed one more person I loved.
After school, I locked myself upstairs in my room. Dad wouldn't be home for hours, so it was just Roik, Gerard, our domestic manager, and me. And even though they knew enough to leave me alone, I didn't feel like dealing with even one of their XY chromosomes.
I tore off my uniform tie and grey plaid skirt and kicked them into the closet. Then I pulled on a pair of jeans and put in my earphones.
I hadn't played Scarp Hole's Rage album in a long, long time, not since freshman year when I finally got that it was better to feel numb than replay endless pain. I knew exactly how the music would make me feel, but I went ahead anyway.
The first song begins with the lead singer, his voice bitterly quiet. I whispered the words along with him.
I rage at the darkness in my life
The stolen love, the stolen light.
Death was silent, but I'm
Not silent anymore.
The drums start pounding, and the guitars scream and he cries, "I rage," drawing out his pain over a hundred metallic bars until we both jump into the next lines.
Mistakes were made
That dug a thousand graves.
The lies, the bribes, the averted eyes,
Millions had to die before we cried
This was no accident,
No, no! No accident
And I scream out the chorus.
Someone has to pay
For the pain they caused.
Someone has to pay
For the lives they lost.
Death was silent, but I'm
Not silent anymore.
Rage! Rage! Rage!
No silence anymore!
I pounded my feet into the carpet, letting every note take me back. Back to the helpless, awful days of elementary school when Dayla and I and all our friends watched our moms and aunts and big sisters get cancer and die — way before doctors exposed the killer: Scarpanol, a hormone pumped into American beef. Scarpanol didn't kill little girls like me, but we were still casualties — left behind with dads and brothers and uncles who were shell-shocked and afraid.
I danced and danced and beat my arms in the air, lost in a house where no one understood.
Maybe Dayla was already in Canada. Maybe she and Seth were safe, but once she crossed that border, it was worse than her being a thousand miles away. It was forever.
I lowered the volume, until all I could hear was the whispery sound of hushed anger. My fingers poised over the keypad.
Yates was the only one who'd understand.
I knew his cell number, but if I tried dialing it, the monitoring software would send the call right to Roik.
I closed my eyes and remembered how Yates had held my hand through the funeral when Dayla's mom died. I was ten and he was twelve, and I know his friends teased him about it later, but he didn't let go when I couldn't stop crying.
And when Mom died nine months later, he and Day huddled over me, keeping the smothering well-wishers away so I didn't have to hear one more person tell me how kind my mother was or how much she'd be missed.
And two months later after his mom's funeral, Day and I barricaded Yates and his sister Becca in his dad's lanai and played endless games of pool, not saying a word, because even one word was too much.
I dropped to the floor. Now Day was gone, Becca was dead, and I wasn't allowed to talk to my oldest friend. How was I supposed to survive without them?CHAPTER 4
A silver van from H&S Monitoring was blocking the driveway when I came down for breakfast. The backseat of our SUV had been ripped out, and Dad stood over two guys whose arms were shoved elbow deep into the upholstery.
I scuffed to the kitchen, thinking how weird it was Roik wasn't out there, because that car was his domain. Nobody touched Big Black without his permission. Not even Dad, and he owned it.
My synapses didn't fire until I had a mouthful of juice. Dad's monitoring Roik and me. He's freaked by what happened with Dayla and Seth.
I choked on the nasty. Me and Roik? Roik was even older than Dad. And he wasn't at all hot. Not like Seth.
A hummingbird whirred past the window. Dayla and Seth had been gone for twenty-four hours. They could be in Oregon, maybe even Washington if they'd pushed it. By tonight, they'd be across the border, starting a new life.
Dayla was lucky. Seth really cared about her, not like Braden, the guy who Signed her. Braden's technoczar dad bought Day for him as a college graduation present.
I remembered the green sparks of envy I'd felt when she'd told me about all the times she and Seth parked the car after school. About the day in the abandoned picnic ground that she wanted him so bad she ripped half the buttons off her shirt. Or the time they fell asleep in the backseat, and Seth pounded a nail into the tire to prove they'd had a flat.
My finger traced a heart on my juice glass. I wanted what Dayla had, a real love, not a Signed one.
Once I turned eighteen and went to college, I'd have a lot more freedom and there was a chance I'd meet The One.
I'd imagined moving into the girls' dorm at Occidental. Running into Yates around campus. Having coffee with him between classes, with Roik sitting a couple tables away and actually giving us some privacy for once. Yates would look out for me. He'd tell me which guys I could trust and which not to.
The front door banged open. A man charged into the foyer and yelled, "Avie! I need to talk to you!" Dad was right behind him, saying, "Relax. Relax. I'll get her."
I peeked into the hall. Dayla's dad was sprinting up the stairs toward my bedroom. "Avie!"
Oh, God. I shrank back into the kitchen.
"She's not up here! Where is she?" Mr. Singer sounded angry, like he'd just lost six million dollars and I was to blame.
"Hold on, Singer. I'll get her. Avie?"
The doors upstairs were banging open and shut. I scooted behind the island. "In the kitchen," I called back.
Mr. Singer blew into the room, and I held on to the granite counter like it could somehow protect me. "Where is she, Avie! Where's my daughter?"
The Rolex Submariner glinted on his wrist. Dayla's future father-in-law gave it to him at her Signing. Job well done.
"I have no idea," I said. "Dayla didn't tell me where she was going."
"But she told you she was going somewhere!"
He circled around to make a grab for me, but Dad got between us. "Slow down. You're scaring her."
"Don't tell me to slow down. My daughter's disappeared. I've got to find her and that bodyguard before the authorities do."
I peeked around Dad. As bad as it would be if her dad caught up to her, it would be ten times worse if Day got stopped by the border patrol. "I'm telling the truth, Mr. Singer," I said. "I don't know where she is."
I wasn't lying. Sure, I'd heard about Underground safe houses where they'd hide you if you were running for the border, but I had no idea how to find one.
Mr. Singer banged his fist on the counter. For a second I felt sorry for him. "You'll tell me if she contacts you?" he said.
Dayla wasn't going to contact me until she made it across. "I promise."
Mr. Singer's phone rang, and he turned away to answer it. "Yes? Yes!"
"You'd better be telling the truth," Dad whispered in my ear.
"I am. I swear."
Mr. Singer shook his head as he pocketed his phone. "My people tracked the car to Visalia. No sign of Dayla or Seth." He locked his eyes on me. "This isn't a game, Avie. We've got to get her back."
I nodded, but inside I cheered. Day and Seth were still out there, free.CHAPTER 5
Dad didn't let me out all weekend and Roik made me hand over my Princess phone like running away was contagious. So when I walked into class on Monday, it was like being let out of jail.
But then I felt the skin on my arms prick up. It took me a minute, but I realized the posters for MIT and UCLA were gone, and a recipe conversion chart was stuck up in their place.
Ms. Alexandra stood like a model, her hair swept up in a chignon, her lipstick perfect. She had one hand on her hip and the other on the back of Dayla's chair, but only her lips were smiling.
Ms. A had handpicked our class when we were twelve, back when the Headmaster still listened to her, because she was the only female teacher left. Ms. A told him we had the most "potential." Put us all together, and we were a color wheel of smart rich girls who'd racked up enough detentions to catch her eye.
But we were more than a mission. Ms. A called us the daughters she could never have.
There wasn't an upperclassman at Masterson Academy who hadn't heard that Dayla Singer had run off with her bodyguard, but Ms. A addressed our class in the ridiculously chipper voice she used for the security camera. "Dayla's father called. Her cold is improving, and she should be back soon."
We all clapped, and Ms. A smiled at Sparrow. Two seconds later, the security camera buzzed like it was in pain. Ms. A nodded a thank-you, and Sparrow slid the scrambler she'd engineered back in her pocket.
"I know you're worried about Dayla," Ms. A said quietly, "but my sources haven't heard a thing. Keep in mind that's good news." She frowned. "I'm sure you're wondering why the posters were taken down. Last night, the American Association of College Presidents announced they were suspending enrollments for women."
Sparrow was the first one to figure out what Ms. A just said. "You mean we can't go to college?"
"But they just let girls back in last year," Sophie Park cried. "What's going on?"
"The reason they cited was their inability to provide adequate security for women on campus. They stated that until they can ensure the safety of female students, they cannot house or provide instruction for them."
We all sat stunned as if someone had lined up our dreams and shot them. No NYU theater for Portia. No biology lab for Sophie. No MIT engineering for Sparrow.
No psych classes at Oxy for me. No escaping home for the freedom of a dorm. The nos hammered me and I pressed my fingers to my forehead to stop the pounding.
"But they're going to figure this out, right?" Zara asked. "I mean, they'll find a way to let us back in, right?"
"Yeah," Sophie said. "Like, couldn't we take classes online for now?"
"Get real," Sparrow snapped. "How's Portia going to learn acting if she can't go onstage? Or Sophie — how's cyber lab going to work for you?"
Ms. A held out her hand for us to quiet down. "Sources within the association have told us that colleges are being pressured to keep women out. They're being threatened with funding cuts if they don't cooperate."
"I bet it's Senator Fletcher and the Gang of Twelve," Sparrow said.
I looked back at Ms. A. For the last year, she'd been telling us about Senator Fletcher and the twelve other powerful members of Congress who headed up the Paternalist Movement and seemed to control everything the government did.
"But why are they doing this?" Sophie asked.
Sparrow rolled her eyes. "Fifty million women died and the country fell apart. The Paternalists want us home safe and sound in the kitchen. Not taking jobs away from men who need them."
"This isn't fair!" Zara cried. "We're going to be eighteen. We're supposed to be free to choose what we want."
"They'll pay for this," Sparrow muttered like it was something she intended to carry out herself.
I stared at her. It wasn't the first time Sparrow said something like that, but it always shocked me, because she looked like a Renaissance Venus with soft curly hair and a perfect oval face. Not a kick-ass chick you'd expect to wreak vengeance.
Excerpted from A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka. Copyright © 2014 Catherine Linka. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Los Angeles, Present Day,
Part 2: Pending Contract,
Part 3: Hawkins,
Part 4: Exodus,
Part 5: Underground,
Part 6: Salvation,
Part 7: Siege,
ITL[A Girl Undone]ITL Teaser,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overall, I really liked this book. I love how dynamic Avie is and how much she changes. Through her distress, I could really feel how trapped she was, how much freedom was stolen from her. The only.complaint I hate is that after all the crazy, death defying escapes and chases and hardship, I feel as if it was a bit anticlimatic. But it was still amazing and I definitely recomend it, you won't regret buying it.
Very fast paced. Detailed and exciting. Great read for those who like first person accounts of distopian life.
This would make an excellent movie! I can't wait for the next book in the series. Wonderful read!
This is my life in a nut shell. I am a 14year old girl who was thinking about running away to canada to find freedom, love, and happyness.
Main character is annoying and weak. Writing style and plot are subpar.
Very good read, kept me wanting more...so much so that I got the next book too
This author came to our school and she seeemed rreally cool. She gavee me advice on writing and being an author( My dream) and she said this might soon become a tv show, soREAD now!