“A love letter to family relationships and Alaskan life, No Fences in Alaska is a gratifying young adult novel.” –Foreword Reviews
"All told, readers will find No Fences in Alaska impossible to put down." –BlueInk Starred Review
Their worlds are about to come crashing down…
At sixteen years old, Harper Lyon’s life is spinning out of control. She threatens her parents with suicide unless she can meet her drug-dealing boyfriend, a college student who doesn’t know she’s pregnant. Cooper Lyons, her estranged grandfather, lives in rural Alaska with only his dog and cat for company. He has just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, and he doesn’t plan on letting the disease run its course. Harper needs to escape her parents and decide what to do about the baby. She and her grandpa are worlds apart, but they may be exactly what the other needs. When Harper calls her grandfather, he welcomes the opportunity to help her and redeem his previous failure with his daughter Heather, who died from a drug overdose years ago.
Can they save each other?
Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Award - Young Adult Social Issues
|Publisher:||Black Rose Writing|
|Edition description:||First Printing ed.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Harper's plan was beautifully wicked: go to Trish's house to work on a school project and then spend the night, sneak out of her bedroom window, meet Zachary on the corner, and party all night at his place. His real 21st birthday was Saturday, but he wanted a pre-party celebration with her. Trish would let her back in the next morning, and Harper would drive them both to school. A full night with Zachary, some smack, and a case of beer. She couldn't wait. And she'd bring a little something back for Trish. She smiled at herself knowingly in the mirror as she hummed and curled her lashes. Of all the times she had been with him, this would be the first she could spend the entire night.
"Where are you going, Harper?" asked Alex, her 11-year-old sister, who had her face behind a hand mirror, working on her lips. They shared a bedroom. Not the best arrangement for Harper's escapades, but Alex was now her confidante.
"To spend the night with Trish." Harper smiled at her through the dresser mirror.
"Uh-huh. Don't think so." Alex smiled, her top lip bright red. "Is he cute?"
"Oh my God, you wouldn't believe!" Cute was an understatement when it came to Zachary. He was gorgeous, ripped, and tall, with the softest lips that matched hers perfectly.
Alex giggled, shaking her thick, curly bangs over her huge eyes.
"Isn't that my lipstick?" asked Harper.
"You said I could use it. Besides, you don't use red anymore."
No, she didn't use red anymore, not since boys in her class taunted her with "hot lips" and especially "horny lips." Harper didn't want her sister to experience that.
"It's OK for dress-up at home," said Harper, "but use something more subtle for school."
Alex rolled her eyes.
They rarely fought. Alex admired everything about Harper and always provided support when their parents pulled theirs, sometimes dragging Alex into arguments she hadn't started. Little Jack, who slept down the hall, never experienced such falls from grace. He was the angel of the family, and he knew it.
Harper admired her outfit in the mirror: tight, white shorts that she had cut off an extra few inches. She admired her long legs, which she tried to show off as much as she could get away with. They were her best feature. Her hot-pink top was strapless, coming just to her ribs to reveal her stomach and her rose-colored stud belly ring. Her eyeliner enhanced the blue in her hazel eyes. Her long nails made her fingers look tantalizingly sensuous, and she could just imagine how good they'd look running down Zachary's chest. Harper turned and struck her most alluring pose — lips partly open in a circle, one hand behind her head lifting her hair, her other hand hooked into the band of her shorts, pulling them down slightly.
"Am I hot?" she purred.
"On fire!" said Alex.
"Hopefully Zachary thinks so." She turned around and added more gloss to her lips.
Alex finished her bottom lip and practiced her pucker. "How long before I look like you?"
Harper stopped and frowned at her sister in the mirror. Alex's side of the room was full of dolls on shelves and princess posters. She even had a Frozen bedspread. Where Harper's side was bare except for the bottles of makeup, brushes, nail polish, and lip-gloss crammed onto shelves on either side of her dresser mirror. Her shocked parents had removed all her "entirely inappropriate" posters last month — shirtless guys with bulging pecs gripping beautiful, barely dressed women. They even made her toss her adult romance novel collection — over two hundred books — because they had caught Alex reading one.
Four years ago, when Harper's side looked similar to Alex's, a friend of her 16-year-old brother Chris opened her bedroom door "by mistake." Luke wore only boxer shorts and was gorgeous with a toned figure like a runner, messy blonde hair and blue eyes. Harper froze, standing before her mirror in a bra and panties; a dark red blush covered her face and spread to her chest.
Luke gasped and stared.
"How old are you?" he asked, a bulge forming in his shorts.
"Twelve," said Harper, snapping out of her shock and covering herself with her pillow.
"Wow! You look eighteen at least."
Harper stared at his shorts. Part of her wanted to shove him out of the room and lock her door. But another part of her, a darker part, was curious and wanted him to come closer. He noticed and smiled, more of a sneer, and it unsettled her.
"Too bad you're only twelve," he teased and left.
The next time Luke visited, he spent the night with Chris and happened to mistake doors again. Harper tried very hard not to look or act twelve during her first make-out experience. She didn't know if she really liked or wanted him or if she just wanted the experience that she had heard so many older girls murmuring about. What was the big deal about a kiss? What did it feel like?
And it was nothing like she imagined.
There was lust and thrill, but there was also fear and guilt. While the kiss and the way he touched her made her feel alive, it didn't feel right.
Then her brother walked in and all hell broke loose.
Later, Luke claimed the horny little girl attacked him, forcing him to accommodate her inexperienced efforts. Chris punched him a few times, and her father never looked at her the same way again. She didn't know what hurt more, Luke's accusations or that her father had believed him.
However, it wasn't the damage to her moral reputation that bothered her, but her lack of experience, which she quickly gained during the next few years, doing everything except intercourse. At the time she still thought it was important to preserve her virginity. Or at least her parents and the church did. Every other act was fair game, as far as she was concerned. Boys her age were like matches against a flamethrower. Though some tried to keep up with her, they inevitably scampered away, calling her names, trying to shame her to hide their own hang-ups. So she looked elsewhere and found Zachary.
Now she stared at her sister, still very much a little girl, and didn't want the same future for her. Lying. Secret parties. Drugs and alcohol. Unrestricted sex with a college guy. That was Harper's life, not her little sister's.
"Hey, Earth to Harper!" shouted Alex. "How long before I look like you?"
"You don't want to look like me, Alex," Harper said, grabbing a tissue, intent on wiping the make-up from her sister's lips. "Just be you."
Alex stood and moved away. "Are you kidding? You were hot at twelve, and I've done everything at least a year sooner than you did, according to Mom. I should have boobs any day now. I can't wait!"
She shoved a stuffed animal under her pajama shirt against her chest, stood, pushed out her "boobs," and lifted her shirt past her hip. "Am I hot?" She puckered her full red lips and lifted her hair over her head until it hung seductively over her face.
Harper's jaw dropped. Maybe she needed to hide more of her secrets from Alex, but Harper already felt so isolated and lonely in her own house. Harper realized she was staring at her sister, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. She tried to smile.
"You should see your face!" Alex flopped onto her bed in a heap of giggles.
Harper heard her phone ring down the hall and ran to the bathroom where she had left it.
"Hey, Zachary," she whispered as she closed the door.
"Hey, Lovebug. Plan still a go?"
She turned on the sink faucets and walked toward the tub to ensure no eavesdroppers could catch anything. "I'll be at the corner in about ten minutes. I'm bringing a hot birthday present for you. Something to change into," she groaned softly, "and then out of."
"I like the out of part," he replied huskily.
"Won't be long. I'll see all of you soon."
She ran back to the bedroom to finish dressing, leaving the door open. She had met Zachary through Trish's brother, Larry; both were in college. Harper was a sophomore in high school, visiting Trish when the young men stopped by. Zachary made his interest in her obvious. He told her he loved her large hazel eyes and golden-brown hair, and her strong nose with the little uplift at the end. And, of course, her figure of generous curves in all the right places. But her lips were his favorite part: full, pouty, shiny with burnt orange gloss. She gave him her number, and the secret dates began. Her parents would never approve of Zachary, and the secrecy made their meetings even more intoxicating.
* * *
From the top of the stairs, Greg looked at his sixteen-year-old daughter standing in front of her dresser mirror and gasped in horror. The decision to confront her about the missing twenties from his wallet left his brain. Her long hair piled on top of her head, cut-off shirt and shorts, and flat sandals revealed as much flesh as possible, an image he couldn't believe his daughter wanted to project. Why would she want to look like that? A little smear of pink and white was all that kept her from total nudity.
He watched her slip on a baggy, long-sleeved shirt, buttoned to her neck to hide her real outfit, then dab perfume on her chest. When she wiped a streak along the inside of each long thigh, his shock turned to anger.
Greg stomped down the hall toward her open bedroom door. "What the hell are you doing?"
Harper kept staring at herself in the mirror, adding more rings to her ears. "I'm going over to Trish's." She shoved her phone into her shirt pocket, grabbed her overnight bag from her bed, and tried to move past him, but he held out his arm against the doorframe to stop her. She tried to shoulder past him, but she couldn't budge him.
He wouldn't let his daughter go anywhere looking like that. Did she think he was stupid? As if she'd dress like that for Trish. She shouldn't ever dress like that. Period.
"Who are you really meeting?" he asked, his face reddening.
"I already told you. We're working on a school project." She tried to walk through him but bounced off. "Can you move?"
He gently grabbed her shoulders. "Harper —"
She shoved off his hold. "Don't touch me! I'm going, and you're making me late!"
"For what? If you were just going to hang out at Trish's, she wouldn't mind. Tell me one good reason for putting perfume on your legs."
"You watched me?"
"As if I wanted to see that." He matched her tone of disgust. "What is going on with you, Harper?"
Harper pulled out her phone and punched out a text with her thumb. Greg took a deep breath to try to compose himself.
"Who are you texting?" he asked.
"Trish. I'm spending the night at her house. I already told you. Now please get out of my way."
"She's going to see Trish, Dad," said Alex. "I heard her call her just a minute ago."
Harper glanced at Alex, who nodded back.
Greg looked at his younger daughter and was astounded again. He noticed her red lips. Great. Harper was corrupting Alex. He wouldn't let Alex become Harper 2.0.
"Give me your phone!" he demanded, holding out his hand to Harper. He didn't know who she was texting, but he was sure it was another bad influence in her life. Damn it, he wouldn't see her end up like he was in high school or worse, like Heather, his dead sister. He had to stop this now.
"It's my phone!" Harper ran to the other side of the room and fumbled to turn on the camera.
"I pay for it! Give me the phone!"
Just as Harper lifted the phone to start the video, Greg yanked it out of her hand. Harper pulled on his arms as he held the phone up out of her reach, trying to see her latest text. But he already knew she'd called him a pervert for watching her dress.
Two weeks ago, he and Harper had argued about the clothes she planned to wear to school. After he made her put a bra on under her tank top, she sent a note to her friends: "My dad keeps staring at my boobs!" Kids talked to parents, and a few had called him. He was just as stunned and disgusted by her accusations as they were. He couldn't believe Harper hated him so much as to subject him to that. Now he'd have to deal with the awkwardness again, all because his daughter had found the one weapon she could use to challenge his authority. He had no idea how they had gotten here. Why couldn't she see he was doing this to protect her?
"Give me my phone!" Harper raked her nails down his arm.
"Damn you!" Greg saw drops of blood ooze on his forearm.
"Dad!" yelled Alex. "Just let her go!"
"Natalie!" Greg yelled for his wife as he leaned out of the doorway. "I need you up here!" Then he slammed Harper's door shut.
"Get out of my room!" yelled Harper. "What's wrong with you?" Greg sat against the door inside her bedroom. Harper twisted the handle above his head and pulled, but the door wouldn't open. She put her foot against the wall and pulled the handle, bending the door against Greg's body. He pushed his back toward the frame and snapped the door closed.
Natalie knocked quietly from the other side. "Greg? What's going on?"
"You're not leaving," Greg ground out to Harper. "I want to know who you were planning to meet. And why you think it's appropriate to wear those clothes and wipe perfume on your legs. Why your legs, for God's sake?"
Greg was horrified. He suspected she was acting a little wild around boys, especially now that she attended a public school, but he'd tried to deny the clear signs of sex and drug use. They'd both been missing cash during the past few months. A week ago, Natalie had found the bag of marijuana in Harper's car, which she claimed belonged to someone else, as well as the sensuous rubbing oils. Their daughter was a liar and up to no good. They needed to clamp down hard on her, but he didn't want to admit the truth. He couldn't believe his own daughter was following the same path as Heather, a victim of drugs, alcohol, and liberal parenting. He had tried so hard to make his house different from his parents', yet the same problems arose. What was causing this?
"Get away from the door!" Harper kicked at her father's legs, but he grabbed her foot and pushed her back.
She stumbled and picked up a bottle of nail polish from her dresser and whipped it at him. He blocked it with his large forearm. She threw another, and it smashed into his temple, just missing his eye.
"Dammit!" he yelled.
"Just let her leave!" Alex yelled. "I can't stand this!"
"Let me go," Harper warned, ready to throw another bottle.
"You're not going anywhere," said Greg, "until you tell me who you're meeting and what you plan to do tonight."
"I'm not telling you anything!" She threw the bottle against the door, breaking the top, splattering red polish on his shirt and neck.
"You throw anything else at me and I'm calling the police," said Greg, hoping the threat would be enough to subdue her.
Harper stormed to a window and jerked it up. "I'll jump out if you don't move! Don't think I won't!"
Cold swept through his veins, cooling his skin and his temper. She was such a good liar he couldn't tell if she was serious or if this was just another one of her antics. "You'll die if you jump."
"Then you'd have to explain why your daughter killed herself."
An idea flashed in Greg's mind. A way to protect himself, get professional help for Harper, and have time to figure out what to do with her. He wouldn't lose her like this.
"Natalie," Greg shouted, "call the police and tell them our daughter is threatening to kill herself."
"What?" Natalie panicked and banged on the door.
"She's going to jump out the window. Call the police!"
Harper huffed in disbelief. "You're calling the police? Such a dork." Harper tore off the window screen and tossed it outside. She straddled the windowsill. "What's it going to be Daddy-O? A bloody splat on your driveway or an open door?"
He raised a brow. "Up to you. But you're not leaving the house tonight."
"Aren't you going to stop her?" Alex asked him breathlessly. "Please don't, Harper." She ran over to her sister, crying, and pulled her arm. "Please."
"I know you don't like hearing this, Alex. I sure didn't like hearing him tear into Chris when I was your age." She glowered at him. He returned her glare, undeterred. "They tore into him until he couldn't wait to get out of here. He'd rather join the Army and get shot at in Afghanistan than live under this roof."
He wasn't going to rise to her bait. "Your brother turned out to be a fine young man," said Greg. "He knows we're proud of him."
"Only after he left your house. You never said anything good about him when he lived here. He couldn't wait to leave." She spit her words at him. "Just like me!"
Greg remembered all the fights he had with Chris, how they could never seem to just talk. God, was he destined to go through the same thing with Harper? How could he stop this?
Harper climbed back inside, and Greg hid his sigh of relief. Alex hugged her tightly. Harper kissed her head and led her back to her bed. "Don't worry, Alex. He'll probably care more for you than he does for me."
She sat at her desk, while Alex chewed her fingernails on the bed. She watched him for a minute, and he could see the wheels turning. She spoke calmly, "Dad, I need to call someone."
"Who?" Greg snarled.
"Please. Just let me have my phone. I'll even change my clothes if that's what you want." She smiled sweetly.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "No Fences in Alaska"
Copyright © 2019 Glen Sobey.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
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
This book gave me goosebumps! A first class story of love and understanding in a family setting, even if it's a generation apart. It's a great read for anyone and everyone.
This is a tough review for me. For most of the novel, I felt like it was a bit overdone...unrealistic, too perfect, Hallmark movie-ish. So, why am I sobbing through the last quarter of the book? Obviously, something connected with my hard heart! This is a fast read and has a lot going on, and even though the characters seem a little cookie cutter, you'll find yourself cheering for them and hoping for the happy ending (although it might be unrealistic, you'll really, really want it!) And I must say...LOVED Cooper! Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing an advanced copy of this novel for review.
This is such a heartfelt read! I immediately fell in love with the range of character personalities and the way the author was able to dive into the mind of a teenager and really bring the reader in from the first page. This is the story of Harper, a wild, drug-addicted, boy-crazy party girl and her journey to redefine herself in backwoods Alaska with her estranged grandfather. As the mother of a teenage girl, the trials Harper faces truly resonated with me. Her need to fit in, to rebel against her parents, to be the girl the boys want her to be, are all things that young girls go through in real life. Harper, however, finds herself pregnant by an older college boy who wants nothing to do with her or her baby. She isn't even sure what to do about the baby herself. When she sets off for Alaska to visit her grandfather, Cooper, whom she hasn't seen since she was six years old, her intentions aren't to get attached. But they end up being everything the other needs at that moment in time. Cooper was hands-down my favorite character. His wisdom and unconditional love for his family (and pets) is what ties the whole book together. The plot was a little predictable and cheesy, but was still a real page turner. The writing was amazing. I am so impressed with how well the author describes the Alaskan scenery. I have never been to Alaska, but had no trouble picturing the beauty of it. After some research on the reader, I have found that the other lives in rural Alaska, so that vast beauty is something he sees every day. I really like that he chose a setting that he knows so well. This is a perfect summer read - I laughed, I cried, I rooted for characters at times and hated them at times. I was truly engaged in the story. It was like a movie playing in my head; I couldn't put it down. It is the perfect beach read for parents of teenagers, or any fan of YA fiction.
Firstly the Author`s writing style is wow. From the start, the story was alive and compelling me as a reader to want to continue reading more and more. I want to compliment the author on such a job well done in creating such a unique, emotional and exciting plot! I also loved the way i was made as a reader to feel emotionally connected to the story and the characters especially Harper. I highly recommend this story!
Wow, what an insightful and emotional read! This story of a troubled girl and her battle between her loving but misguided father unravels the complex web of family relationships. Harper's dad is trying to be a good father but goes about it in all the wrong ways and in return, Harper acts out in all the wrong ways. It's a realistic tale of how people can want the same thing (love, trust, honesty) but they just aren't able to connect and communicate with each other to reach that goal. When Harper runs away to her estranged grandfather in Alaska, Harper discovers contemplates who she is and realizes whom she wants to be. With her grandfather's guidance and wisdom, Harper and her family learn how to forgive, love and be loved. The author gives amazing and insightful perspectives from all members of the family. This book can help teenagers and parents alike to better understand each other and how honesty is the best policy for strong, lasting relationships. It really is a must-read for any teenager or parent who is struggling to understand each other and who find themselves digging deeper holes with every attempt to salvage the parent-child relationship.
A great story that will make you laugh, cry/sob, get angry and more importantly think. 10/10 would recommend it to anybody. It's a must read!
No Fences in Alaska is a very timely read that explores family relationships in a meaningful and emotional way. I was especially impressed by Harper's character development -- while she begins the story as a party girl who tries to numb her pain with illicit substances, she grows into a confident young woman with a real purpose in life. The book is definitely on the mature side, and it deals with some heavy themes, but it also evokes a sense of the joy that comes with having a complete family (whether biological or chosen). Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author.
This book is amazing! Definitely a must read! Harper is a young naive girl who struggles with making the right choices in life. She soon comes to a blockage that she must escape from so she decides to go to her grandfather Cooper's place. Little does she know Cooper is also struggling from dementia episodes. As they go through their ups and downs they realize that they need each other more then ever, to face their demons once and for all. This book brings out so many emotions and has you look in the depths of what people can actually struggle with. This book will always have a place in my heart.
16-year-old Harper Lyons finds herself in a crisis and can't think of anything else to do but leave her dysfunctional family to see her estranged grandfather in Alaska. He is an author and composer who suffers from dementia episodes and a life-long regret for the death of his daughter to drugs and destroying his marriage. Together they find a way to deal with their problems and help each other find a reason for living. This book was amazing and made me cry many times. It is beautifully written and fast-paced.