Between the Bliss and Me

Between the Bliss and Me

by Lizzy Mason
Between the Bliss and Me

Between the Bliss and Me

by Lizzy Mason


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Acclaimed author Lizzy Mason delivers a moving contemporary YA novel about mental illness, young romance, and the impact of family history on one teen’s future, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Robin Benway, and Kathleen Glasgow.

When eighteen-year-old Sydney Holman announces that she has decided to attend NYU, her overprotective mom is devastated. Her decision means she will be living in the Big City instead of commuting to nearby Rutgers like her mom had hoped. It also means she’ll be close to off-limits but dreamy Grayson—a guitar prodigy who is going to Juilliard in the fall and very much isn’t single.

But while she dreams of her new life, Sydney discovers a world-changing truth about her father. She knew he left when she was little due to a drug addiction. But no one told her he had schizophrenia or that he was currently living on the streets of New York City.

She seizes the opportunity to get to know him, to understand who he is and learn what may lie in store for her if she, too, is diagnosed.

Even as she continues to fall for Grayson, Sydney is faced with a difficult decision: Stay close to home so her mom can watch over her, or follow her dreams despite the risks?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641291156
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/06/2021
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Lizzy Mason grew up in northern Virginia before moving to New York City for college and a career in publishing. Now back in Virginia with her two cats, when not reading or writing, Lizzy loves to travel. She has visited forty-four states and eleven countries so far. She is also the author of The Art of Losing. Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Graduation day definitely wasn’t the right time to tell Mom I’d lied to her about my college plans. But it’s not like I could have kept it a secret much longer.
     I just wish the reveal hadn’t been at my grandparents’ country club. My dad’s parents. Ever since he left when I was a toddler, we’ve been the Holman quartet, gathering awkwardly at major holidays and life events.
     We were having lunch after the graduation ceremony, the quiet so thick I could hear Grandpa’s nose whistle while he chewed his prime rib. Mom shifted next to me, impatient to leave, but we were in this for the long haul. My grandparents would be ordering dessert. They always did. And insisted everyone else order it too, because they’d be paying.
     How can you not love someone who insists you eat cake? Somehow Mom managed.
     When our desserts arrived, Grandma handed me an envelope. Inside was a schmaltzy for my granddaughter on her graduation day card, and when I opened it, a check fluttered to the linen tablecloth. Mom looked at the amount and choked on her cheesecake. That was a lot of zeros.
     “Grandma, Grandpa, this—this is . . .” I stammered.
     I didn’t look at Mom. I could feel her disapproval without needing to see it on her face. My stomach churned.
     “I know you said you’d pay for school, but you can’t just write me a check for thirty thousand dollars. Can you?”
     “Why not?” Grandma asked, truly puzzled. “It’s our money, Sydney. We want you to have it. But this isn’t for tuition. I’ve set up a trust for that. This is just for books or groceries or clothes. For rent, if you want to get an apartment with some friends. Or if you want to go to Mexico for spring break.”
     I felt something loosen in my chest, like a spool of thread unwinding. I’d been saving for college since I was old enough to work. I knew how expensive all of the things Grandma had just named were. And even though Grandma and Grandpa had agreed to pay my tuition, I’d been expecting to pay for everything else. My bank account just hadn’t grown quite enough to actually cover it. I’d been planning to work all summer to try to catch up.
     Visions of sitting poolside flashed in my mind.
     “Thank you, guys!” I jumped up and squeezed Grandma in thanks, maybe with a little more enthusiasm than she would have liked. She smoothed her neatly pressed dress and smiled at me with tight lips. She hated it when I called them “guys.”
     I hugged Grandpa too.
     “I wish your father were here to see you,” he said quietly.
     My smile slipped. I tried not to think of my dad. My memories of him were hazy. And not just because he’d been surrounded by a near-constant cloud of smoke, cigarette and otherwise.
     When I returned to my seat, Mom was still glaring at the check that sat on the table between us.
     “Why would Sydney need this much money when she’s got a full scholarship to Rutgers and is living at home?” she said. Her voice was icy.
     Grandma and Grandpa both looked at me expectantly. My stomach turned to lead.
     “I’m, um . . .” I took a deep breath and started over. “I’m not going to Rutgers, Mom. I’m going to NYU.”
     Her eyes narrowed. “What do you mean? Rutgers gave you a full academic scholarship. NYU didn’t offer a dime!”
     I nodded, swallowing hard against the lump of fear in my throat. “I know. That’s why Grandma and Grandpa offered to pay. So I didn’t have to settle. So I could go to my dream school and not have to work overtime for the rest of my life to pay off loans like you did.”
     I didn’t add that I was also counting down the days until I could move out of our apartment. Out from under her watchful eye and her overprotective wing.
     Mom threw her napkin on the table. “You went behind my back?”
     There was nothing to say. Obviously, I had. But Mom turned her fury on Grandma and Grandpa instead.
     “You two are unbelievable,” she said through clenched teeth. “Don’t you think it’s irresponsible to give that much money to a child? With her . . . history?”
     I stiffened. My dad might have been a drunk and an addict, but I was way more responsible than that. I’d spent my life proving to her that I wasn’t like him. It was insulting that the thought would even cross her mind.
     But Grandma and Grandpa brushed off her concerns. Grandma literally waved a hand in Mom’s direction.
     “Let’s not discuss that today,” she said. “This is a celebration.”
     Mom stood, grabbing my elbow to haul me up beside her. “Not anymore. We’re leaving.”
     I pulled my arm from her grasp. The country club members around us were looking on curiously, no doubt judging my Forever 21 dress and Mom’s fake pearls. But Grandma seemed impervious to their judgment as she stood to kiss me goodbye.
     “Congratulations, Sydney,” she said. “You’ll do wonderfully at NYU.” She leveled her gaze at Mom.
     I stepped between them to kiss Grandpa’s papery cheek.
     “I love you, sweetheart,” he said.
     “Thank you again!” I called over my shoulder while Mom pulled me toward the door.
     Her anger crested as she marched to the car. Fury practically radiated off of her.
     “I just don’t understand, Sydney,” Mom said. She slammed the door. “We’ve worked toward Rutgers for so long and now you just want to forget it? What about all our planning?”
     Mom and I had never made any decision without a pros-and-cons list and a lot of discussion. We were organized to an obsessive degree. Our budget spreadsheet was taped to our refrigerator. We kept a shared online calendar detailing where we’d be at every moment. Every one of her binders and notebooks for nursing school had been meticulously organized. Setting up my bullet journal every month was my happy place.
     “I planned for NYU too,” I said calmly, even though my heart was racing. “I picked my classes and housing. I figured out how to pay for it. I just didn’t do it with you.”
     She opened her mouth and then closed it, blinking back tears. That had come out harsher than I’d intended. But her sadness hardened quickly and shifted to anger.
     “You just want to take the Holmans’ money like it doesn’t matter that you didn’t have to work for it?” she said. “That you didn’t earn it?”
     I rolled my eyes. “So many people’s parents or grandparents pay for them to go to college. Why do I have to struggle just because you did?”
     Mom pinched the bridge of her nose. This was a familiar argument. We’d had it when I first got my acceptance letters and she decided where I’d be going.
     “I’m not saying you should struggle,” she said. “I’m saying it’s important to take ownership over your successes. If you let the Holmans pay for college, then it’s not yours, Syd. It’s theirs too. And after spending the last eighteen years allowing them be a part of your life, of them constantly giving me advice and judging the way I was raising you, I was . . .” She paused. “I was really looking forward to having some autonomy.”
     “So this isn’t really about me at all,” I said with a smirk, finally understanding. “You just want Grandma and Grandpa out of your life.”
     She turned to face me. “No, sweet. I want you to go to school and live your life. Now you have to be accountable to them.”
     I shook my head. “I was always going to be a part of their lives. I’m sorry you don’t like them, that you don’t love them like I do, but they paid for me to go to private school for thirteen years so that I could even dream of going to a school like NYU. Not going feels like a slap in the face to all of us.”
     I sounded confident, but my throat was tight. She couldn’t take this away from me. Not after all the planning I’d done. All the dreaming.
     “Sometimes it’s better to struggle to reach your dreams,” Mom said. “You appreciate it more when you work for it.”
     “I’ve worked every summer since I was twelve,” I grumbled. “I appreciate it, believe me.”
     She was quiet, but her eyes were watery. “I’m sorry you had to do that,” she finally whispered.
     “I’m not asking you to apologize,” I said. “I’m sorry. For not telling you about NYU. And that Grandma and Grandpa are difficult, and that they’re in your life because of me.”
     Mom reached out for me, awkwardly hugging me across the armrest. “I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.”
     “Remember that at Thanksgiving,” I said with a laugh. It got a smile.
     “Let’s go home,” Mom said, turning the car on. “I have to be at the hospital at six tonight.”
     She wasn’t over it, that much was clear. Moving to New York instead of living at home was going to take some convincing. But it had been a long day, and there was an entire summer ahead to work on that. It would probably take me that long.

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