Alexandra Campbell’s life comes to a crashing halt the night her younger sister is killed during a convenience store robbery. Shattered by guilt, Alex distances herself from her friends and family. Months later, with the police investigation stalled, she fears justice may never be served.
Determined to avenge her sister’s murder, Alex disguises herself and joins the gang responsible for the shooting. To identify the one who pulled the trigger, she must put her own life at risk in a world of dangerous criminals. But the longer she plays her new game, the more the lines blur between loyalty and betrayal.
|Publisher:||Red Adept Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Girl on Point
By Cheryl Guerriero
Red Adept Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Cheryl Guerriero
All rights reserved.
I remember standing in a checkout line at ShopRite when I was fifteen years old. I'd run in, exhausted from a full day of school plus two hours of basketball practice, to grab some milk and eggs for my mother while she waited in the car. In front of me in the self-service line was an older woman, maybe in her thirties or forties. She had shiny black hair and smelled of perfume. Clutched in her manicured hand was a fistful of coupons and ShopRite's yellow plastic basket piled with cosmetics and shampoo.
I sighed. I still had hours of homework to get through, a book report due at the end of the week, and apparently, I had pissed off my best friend, Lea, by not inviting her to a party I had no control over. I didn't even want to go that stupid party.
The woman must have felt my frustration or heard my heavy sigh because she gave me a great big smile. We ended up talking, and I'll never forget how the conversation ended. I asked her if life gets easier as you get older.
The woman looked at me with a kind smile. "Actually honey, it gets a bit harder." She walked up to the available kiosk.
I stared after her. Please tell me you're lying.
That was two years ago.
Tonight, my thick brown hair is tied back in a ponytail. My arms are slick with sweat as my polyester shirt clings to my over-heated body. My legs are exhausted, yet they keep moving. I glance up for a second, and I'm met with a gymnasium full of screaming faces. The crowd, mostly black teens and some rowdy adults, cheer as the girl I'm guarding bullies her way into the key. I'm our team's power forward, and at five-foot-five, I'm small for my position, especially compared to my opponent. She has tree trunks for legs, muscular UFC arms, and is at least two inches taller than me. I block a pass to her, and for that, I get an elbow in my rib cage. I hit the floor, and the foul goes uncalled.
"Call the foul, Ref! Call the foul!" Coach Prudenti yells, his size-thirteen dress shoes wearing out the sidelines.
I've been taking a beating all game. The referee doesn't seem to care or notice. We were supposed to get blown away in this game, but we are winning by one. I rise from the floor, and the bully shoots and misses. Sounds of disappointment echo. It's deafening in this small, sweltering gym. Lea, tall and beefy — she would kill me if she heard me say that — and having a remarkably solid game, bravely jumps into the fray as their Amazon center captures the ball like it's a small animal and easily lobs in a two-pointer.
The metal bleachers hum as a cluster of teens in baggy jeans and knit caps stomp their enthusiasm. Their rubber-soled sneakers pound the metal seats in sync. It's an impressive sound, a sound you won't find in our white, middleclass, suburban gym. This is Cantor High School East's home court, all black, except for the white, six-foot-two Amazon at center. They're ranked third in the state and usually our toughest game of the year. Tonight is especially difficult.
Our point guard fires the ball to me, and the bully claws her hand in for a steal. Her jagged nail catches the skin on my forearm. I ignore the pain and bring the ball in close. This girl is suffocating. I feel her hot breath on the back of my neck as I pivot to escape. She holds onto me, locking her arm into mine. I wait for a foul to be called. Again, the whistle is silent. What's this referee's problem?
Finally, I pull free, and the bully comes at me again from behind. The anger inside me boils, and without even thinking, I reel back with my elbow and connect hard with her nose. A whistle immediately sounds, and play is halted. The gymnasium erupts in noise. I ignore the shouts from the fans and watch as the stunned bully throws a hand to her nose. Drops of red fall through the cracks of her meaty fingers, sprinkling her jersey. I notice a small splatter of blood hitting the top of her white Nikes. Her teammates hold her still while a towel is rushed to her nose. Eventually, the bully is escorted off-court, and blood is wiped from the lacquered wood floor.
The referee points to me. "Number 15! Unsportsmanlike conduct! Two shots!"
Coach Prudenti calls a time-out, and the crowd boos me as I walk off-court. It's not the first time I've been booed, but it's the first time I've been booed for making someone eat my elbow. Honestly, I don't feel bad for what I did. She played dirty the entire game. She elbowed me at least three times in the ribs, not to mention grabbing my shirt every chance she got. I had enough. If the ref wasn't going to protect me, I was going to end her.
"We don't play to their level! You got that, Alex?" Coach lays into me.
"Yes, sir." I bow my head and slouch my shoulders like a scolded child. Everyone knows I have a temper. Coach has been saying for years one day it's going to get me in trouble, but I don't think it's today, or rather tonight, because he keeps me in the game and takes out Amber.
"Jenny, you're in!" He points to my sister.
I throw my arm around my sister as she jumps into the pile. I love when Jenny comes off the bench, not just because she's my little sister and I want her to do well, but because she's hungry, dependable, and quick.
Coach draws a diagram. "Jenny, I want you to drive the girl to her weak hand. Lea, once she does, step up and double-team. We want her to pass. Alex, give your girl some room. Down below, keep on 'em tight! Got it? Twenty seconds! You can do this!" We all nod, pumped and excited. "Hands in! Hands in!"
We pile our hands on top of one another and scream, "DE-FENSE!"
Our team waits while their point guard takes her first of two free throws, compliments of my bad temper. She bounces the ball once, twice ... then throws up a brick. Disappointment echoes. She makes her second shot, and the gymnasium explodes. They're winning by a point.
Seconds later, the ball is back in play. Jenny does exactly what Coach told her to do and forces the point guard to go weak. The girl dribbles like a caged squirrel, looking to waste the twenty seconds left on the clock. Lea helps out on a double team, and I ease off my girl in hopes of intercepting a bad pass. I see my two other teammates glued to their opponents. I'm jacked up on adrenaline as the clock ticks down from nineteen seconds ... eighteen seconds ... fifteen seconds ... My heart is pounding. We need the ball! Just then, Jenny dives in for a steal like a little monkey. Her nubby fingers tip the leather and send the ball spiraling free.
Lea turns blindly and accidently blocks the point guard from recovering the ball. It bounces toward the sideline, and I sprint toward it. There is something about a loose ball that I absolutely love. At the very last moment, I pluck the ball from the sideline's edge and head down court. Jenny races to catch up. I hear Lea cheering me on. "You got this, Campbell!" The point guard is hot on my back, fueling me to go faster.
I have seven seconds to get down court. Seven seconds to hit the baseline and go in for a layup. I know the second I do, this chick is going to clobber me, so I go up strong, really strong. And she does exactly what I expect. She follows me in the air, her body pinned alongside mine, her sweat getting on my arms and shirt. I focus above her head and above her flailing arms. I zero in on a spot outlined in red and tucked in the upper right corner. I've done this a million times. The adrenaline is such a rush. It's such a high. I release the ball off my rolling fingers. It hits the spot and bounces back down — sinking the winning point!
My teammates' screaming, smiling, sweaty faces bombard me. Lea is so big she practically knocks me over. I grab Jenny and slap a wet kiss on her face. She hates when I do that but not tonight. Tonight, she is happy. Tonight, she screams so loudly my ears ring. Coach Prudenti and Coach Sheehan, a tall, good-looking dude barely out of college, meet us on the court, proud. Our excitement slowly dies. I wish it would never end.
"A'right girls, line up. Shake their hands," Coach tells us before he and Coach Sheehan walk off to do the same with the opposing coaches.
I watch as the crowd exits the bleachers in a hum of activity. Their team may have lost tonight, but we gave them a great show. As we line up to shake hands with the opposing team, the player whose nose I bloodied refuses to shake mine.
"Bitch! I'm gonna kick your ass!"
Fortunately, her coach reels her in and makes certain she keeps her hands to herself. I head off to the locker room with my teammates, thinking I'm going to get jumped, but nothing happens.CHAPTER 2
Our euphoric mood continues in the locker room, and I'm all hyped up.
"Making friends again, huh, Captain Campbell?" one girl says.
"What are you laughing at? She was picking on me all game."
"Oh, my poor big sister," Jenny teases, hanging on me. "Wait till John finds out." She mocks Dad's voice.
"Hey — winning basket. Don't get all jelly and jam on me."
Jenny shoves me. "You're such an idiot."
"I'm just glad I didn't have to play against her," Lea says. "Jesus."
"I'm jus' stoked your cute little badonkadonk blocked that girl from gettin' the ball." I slap Lea's bare butt.
"Yeah, you're all welcome." Lea wiggles her butt before walking off to go put on clothes.
I pull off my uniform and step into a shower stall. Most of the girls don't shower after games, and I'm usually one of them, especially in this place. It's crawling with crud, but I have a date with Jay, so I quickly rinse off. When I step out, Jenny is waiting for me, rocking out to a song on her iPhone. She's such a dork but a fun dork. She always looks happy. I envy how comfortable Jenny is in her own skin. I've never felt comfortable in mine. I don't know why. Maybe it's my anger.
"Hurry up, ya big ho!" she yells at me.
"Hey, go get me a Dr. Pepper from that store." I dry off with a towel.
"What store?" She pulls the buds out of her ears.
"The one across from the school. When we pulled in. Amber just left with Cait. You can catch up to them."
"Go get it yourself, Miss Five-Finger-Discount." She side-eyes me.
"Hey!" I look around to make sure no one heard. "I haven't done that in a while."
"It's true. C'mon ... do it for your big sis? Pleasssse? I'd do it for you."
"Pfft. You would not."
"I would too. Here. You can get something for yourself." I bait her with a ten-dollar bill that I wave in front of her face. "C'mon, lil' squirrel ... lil' squirrely rabbit. You can keep the change."
Jenny snatches the dough from my hand. "Fine! You're so slow!" She throws her ear buds into place and screams at me. "Take my bag!"
Her #2 sports bag rests at my feet. "Yeah, I got it. Now go!" I wave her away. She blasts the iPod and takes off. It sounds like Katy Perry.
"You two are so weird." Lea appears behind me. "Hey, have you seen my lucky hair band? I can't find it."
After a five-minute search for Lea's lucky hair band and then discovering it in her hand, we exit the locker room together. I'm in jeans and a sweater under my favorite puffy blue winter jacket. My hair is still wet, and I'm lugging both Jenny's #2 sports bag and my own as I listen to Lea yap about how Amber gets on her nerves.
By the time we enter the gymnasium, it's devoid of both people and noise. The emptiness and silence of this old, stale gym leaves me feeling like a scared, lost five-year-old girl. Even with Lea yapping at my side, it's as if I'm all by myself. It's a lonely, familiar feeling and one I hate. It usually gets triggered at the end of the summer when the weather changes, it gets darker earlier, and the "back to school" campaigns are all around. But every once in a while, like now, it hits me in the gut and has me vibrating with a terror that I am unloved, unwanted, and alone in this world.
We hear voices. Apparently, we're not alone because tucked in the corner of the bleachers is a group of teenagers hanging out. The white Amazon center is one of them. She's still in her uniform and is smiling as if she doesn't have a care in the world. She notices us, and her smile seems to grow.
"Hey, 15! Number 15!" a very dark-skinned teenage boy says, speaking to me. "My boy wants to know if you'd go out with him!"
"Yeah, Number 15! That shit was cool!" The boy stands up in excitement and imitates my elbow smashing backward. He's razor thin and not very attractive. His hair is wild and curly, and he looks like he's only five feet three. "I like how you play, girl!" He falls off the bleachers and struggles to stand, clearly wasted. His friends laugh. Lea stares at them as if they are circus freaks. She picks up her pace as we near the exit. I stare back at the center, wondering why she's still smiling.
We step into the cold night air, and a vicious wind slaps our faces. I pull my jacket close and lower my chin into it.
"Christ! It's freezing!" Lea clenches her teeth.
We hurry along the graffiti-tagged building. It's creepy and dark, and I don't exactly feel safe. A few students linger by their cars, but most are gone. It's too cold to stand outside. We fight our way against the wind and cold. I peek up from my jacket and see our bus. It's parked along the curb, less than fifty feet away, but in this weather, it feels like a million miles. From behind, I hear heavy bass. I turn and see a tricked-out car slowing down as it approaches. From inside, a group of male faces stare out at us, their heads covered by knit caps. My shoulders relax when the car speeds out of the parking lot. Another car chases after it. Each step toward our bus seems to take forever. I should've worn a hat.
A few feet ahead, a Honda with a dented bumper and a thick cloud of exhaust spewing from its tailpipe crawls to a stop in front of us. It takes me a moment before I realize the girl in the backseat is the bully whose nose I bloodied. And that's when the passenger door pops open, and a girl who looks exactly like the bully, but shorter, steps out. A second girl exits from the driver's side. They follow after us. Or rather, me.
"Hey, bitch! Where you going?"
I look toward our bus, hoping Coach will see us, but his back is facing us as he talks to someone I can't completely make out. Lea quickens her pace. She's never walked so fast in her life. If I'm scared, Lea's petrified.
The bully's sister catches up to me, and my heart begins to race.
"Gonna throw an elbow? Throw it now, bitch!"
She walks right alongside me, eyeballing me closely and waiting for me to do something. I fear any second, she is going to punch me in the face. But I keep walking, hiding my fear and trying to pretend this brute is not beside me.
"We don't want any trouble," Lea says, barely audible.
The ugly sister and her friend laugh.
"Hey, ladies!" a male voice calls. I look back and see Coach Sheehan running toward us.
"Thank God," Lea says.
Coach Sheehan is at our side within seconds. "Let it go, girls," he says to the bully's sister and her friend. "Game's over."
The bully's sister responds with a middle finger. "Fuck you!"
"Another time, a'right?" He places his arms around Lea and me and escorts us safely toward the bus.
The window of the car rolls down, and the bully, who no longer holds a towel to her nose, yells, "Bitch! Next time you're dead!"
My heart is still racing when we reach the bus.
"Thank God," Lea says. A burst of fog rolls out of her open mouth, and she thrusts down the zipper of her heavy coat. I know she secretly loved Coach Sheehan coming to our rescue. She is constantly telling me she thinks he's hot. Coach Prudenti, seeing what just happened, eyes the bully's departing car with concern as it vanishes down the road, leaving a wake of burning rubber.
"Everything okay?" Coach Prudenti asks.
"Yeah, it's fine," Sheehan says.
Coach turns to us. "Good game tonight, girls."
"Thanks." Lea happily boards the bus.
Coach puts a hand on my shoulder. "Watch those elbows. Okay, Alex?"
"Yes, sir." I look him straight in the eye this time. Then I enter the bus, grateful to be welcomed in by its warmth and loudness.
The lights are off, shrouding my rowdy teammates in shadows. I scan the seats for Jenny and sigh heavily when I can't find her. I'm jonesing for my Dr. Pepper. "Jenny!" I think I see her head in the back when Lea pulls me into a seat next to her. The windows are fogged from all the breathing. I drop Jenny's bag and zip out of my heavy jacket.
Excerpted from Girl on Point by Cheryl Guerriero. Copyright © 2017 Cheryl Guerriero. Excerpted by permission of Red Adept Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this book
Why this book hasn’t made it to the Big Screen, I don’t know....especially since the author is a screenwriter!
As the blurb to this book describes, this book deals with the violent loss of a beloved younger sister and the impact it has on her immediate family. Beyond the unmitigated loss, her family feels, there is also an impact on the killer. This author masterfully weaves for us a story that takes us on the journey to discover the ripple effects of a horrific act. Although I do not normally read these types of books, I was intrigued by the plotline of this book and decided to give it a chance. This book is meant for an adult audience and not for the faint of heart. It uncovers the underbelly of society where drug dealers, misguided and abused youths, and impressionable young adults co-exist and survive the best way they can. Do not judge them until you know their story and motivations. We all are a combination of good and evil, after all. It is how we learn and grow from our experiences that matters in the end. I am voluntarily reviewing this book. I thank the author for sharing with me a copy of her book.
Alex Campbell is a teenager that gets good grades and plays basketball. One night after a game at Cantor East High, a rough school in a rough neighborhood, Jenny goes to a convenience to get a drink for Alex and is killed in a robbery gone wrong. Alex is wracked with guilt over the death of Jenny, her mother blames her for Jenny’s death and has turned to alcohol, and her father doesn’t know how to deal with any of this mess. The police think that a local gang called the Black Diamonds may have done the shooting but their investigation stalls. Alex decides to join the gang to find out who pulled the trigger and to get her revenge for the loss of her sister. This is an incredible story. My heart was broken along with Alex when her sister dies. Then to have her home life broken does not help. I could completely understand why Alex decides to go on the hunt for Jenny’s killer. But there is so much more to gangs than what we see on the outside. Many don’t realize that a gang essentially becomes a family for most of those that join. Because of that, as Alex digs deeper you find it harder to want to hurt anyone of the women even if they were the one that pulled the trigger. I loved this book. It is an amazing and touching story. I almost didn’t want it to end so I could deny that one of these women killed Jenny. I received Girl on Point from the author and Red Adept Publishing for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
Alex Campbell is your average teenage girl. She is a straight-A, student-athlete bound for college on an athletic scholarship. Both Alex and her younger sister Jenny play for their high school’s basketball team, and their friendship is a special bond that they both value. Alex’s perfect life comes to a screeching hault one evening when their basketball team is playing an away-game at Cantor East High, the sketchy high school with a bad reputation. After the game Jenny is shot and killed near the school, the perpetrators never caught. Alex sinks into a deep depression after Jenny’s death, and finds life at home nearly unbearable. Her mother, deeply depressed and blaming Alex for Jenny’s death, turns to alcohol and prescription pills to numb her pain. Her father, rarely home to counter her mother’s destructive behaviour. Authorities have made no arrest for Jenny’s murder, though they suspect a local all-girl gang, the Black Diamonds, is responsible. Fueled by her own depression and guilt, Alex heads out on a journey of revenge, eager to find the girls who hurt Jenny and make them pay. Will Alex find out who murdered her sister, and what will she do then? This book is brilliantly engaging and sucked me in right from page one. I found myself unable to put this book down, and read it in a day. ONE day. The story-telling is strong, and I truly felt as though I were in another world. Guerriero highlights the intricacies of the life of inner city youth well. Themes of depression, guilt, betrayal, revenge, forgiveness, friendship and healing are explored throughout the novel, and as such the reader is taken on a rollercoaster of emotions. This story is fast-paced and had me frantically turning pages to find out what would happen next. A fantastic read!