Together is somewhere they long to be.
Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted-- he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?
All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college -- and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . .When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream -- one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||1 MB|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
JULIA DAY lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two twenty-something daughters, one geeky old husband, and too many computers to count. When she's not writing software or stories, Julia enjoys traveling to faraway places, watching dance reality shows on TV, and making a dent in her To-Be-Read pile. Julia is the author of YA contemporary romances The Possibility of Somewhere and Fade to Us (Feb 2018).
Read an Excerpt
The Possibility of Somewhere
By Julia Day
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Elizabeth Langston
All rights reserved.
An Exercise in Probabilities
My normal dress code was designed to keep me invisible, but today I made an exception. I wore a teal shirt (stolen from my dad) over jeans that had only been owned by me. I finished off with my best sneakers, freshly bleached.
After yanking my hair into a ponytail, I grabbed my backpack, charged out of my bedroom, and screeched to a halt in the den. The trailer smelled like toast and bacon. Why?
I crossed to the table and stared down at the plate of food waiting there.
My stepmom came out of the kitchen, holding two mugs of coffee. She offered one to me.
I took it as my backpack slid to the floor with a thud. "You made me breakfast?"
She laughed. "I've done this before."
"When I was nine, maybe." The bacon looked like it had been fried to crispy perfection. I parked my butt on the chair and snagged a slice. "What's the occasion?"
Her smile wobbled. "It's the first day of your last year of high school."
Oh, damn. She was going to get emotional on me. This day must remind her that I'd be gone in a few months. It wouldn't be a good idea to act all happy about escaping town soon. Better change the mood fast. "Breakfast is amazing. You can repeat it whenever you want."
"I'll keep that in mind." She set her mug on the table and pointed at my ponytail. "Can I do something special with your hair?"
Clearly she wanted to, so sure. "That'd be great."
While I finished my toast, she twisted my hair into a thick French braid. It took only a couple of minutes before she pressed a kiss to the top of my head. "There you are, sweetie. Now go on, or you'll miss the bus."
"Okay." I stood, gave her a quick hug, and slung my backpack over one shoulder. "Thanks, Marnie. For everything."
* * *
The bus dropped us off fifteen minutes early, something that would never happen again. I went straight to my first-period class. AP English Lit with my favorite teacher.
"Morning, Ms. Barrie," I said.
She didn't look up from her computer. "Hello, Eden."
I slipped into a desk in the back row and watched as my classmates trickled in.
My next class would be statistics, although it had been a recent change. I'd realized in middle school that college was my best route out of Heron, and I wouldn't get to college without serious scholarships. So I'd mapped out my high school curriculum in seventh grade, picking each course to maximize my GPA. Everything had gone according to plan until three weeks ago, when I'd switched to a different math class and elective. The decision had seemed bold at the time. Now, it felt crazy.
After English, I dropped by my locker and arrived late for second period. With nervous anticipation, I smiled at my statistics teacher and turned toward the back.
"Wait, Eden. Sit there." Mrs. Menzies gestured at an empty seat on the front row.
I paused, looking from the desk to her. She eyed me steadily, a challenge in her expression.
Did she expect me to argue with her? I certainly wanted to.
Swallowing hard, I took my seat.
"All right, everyone. I'm glad that you've chosen to take Advanced Placement Statistics ..."
I tuned out what she said, too annoyed to listen to whatever welcoming remarks she had for us. They would be on her syllabus anyway. I was consumed with shrugging off how much it bothered me to sit in the front with a dozen pairs of eyes behind me. Were they watching me? Probably not, but I didn't like that it was a possibility.
Even deep breaths betrayed me, because they filled my head with the soapy-clean, spicy-cologne scent of Ash Gupta. Why did Mrs. Menzies have me sitting next to him?
"... you'll have one group project and one individual assignment due each week ..."
I glanced at her. Group projects already? Was that why we had assigned seats?
"... that's it for now. Form into your teams. I'll hand out your first project."
The sounds of dragging chairs and laughing voices filled the room. I checked around. Was I the only one who didn't know what to do?
Ash was looking at me, pained resignation on his face. "You're with us, Eden."
I dragged my desk into the circle beside him. There were five of us in the group. Upala and Dev were Ash's friends. A built-in alliance. They would vote as a bloc even if I could get the last guy on my side.
The next few minutes blurred into the rhythms of a project team pretending to become cohesive. I didn't join in, listening instead to Ash control the discussion and watching as Mrs. Menzies went from group to group, dropping off a large bag of M&Ms, several paper bowls, and the project sheet. When she finally arrived at our circle, she described what she wanted and then gave me a hard stare.
"I want collaboration from everyone."
Message received — although it was unnecessary. I participated when it mattered. Reaching for the M&M bag, I filled a bowl and began separating the candies by color. An exercise in probabilities.
"Before we go any further," Ash was saying, "we should pick a leader for the team. How do we want to choose?"
"Might as well cut the bullshit, Ash," I said without looking up. "You want the job. No one's going to fight you. Just take it by acclamation."
Silence greeted my speech. I glanced at him. His gaze held mine for a second before he frowned at his notebook, picked up a pen, and began drawing tiny perfect squares, one after the other. I looked at the rest of the team. Upala and Dev glared at me but didn't disagree with my suggestion. Probably hated that it had come from me, though.
The final guy shrugged.
I resumed separating the candies. "See. Done."
* * *
All seniors had lunch immediately following second period. I stopped briefly at my locker before heading toward the cafeteria. Ash fell into step beside me, his entourage of Indian friends trailing behind.
"Eden? Can I ask you something?"
I halted, shocked that he wanted to speak with me outside of a classroom. "Sure."
His dark eyes bored into mine. "It's the first day of school. Did you have to take me on already?"
"Take you on?" Was he talking about our exchange in statistics? It had been pretty tame. I was mildly insulted. "If I'd wanted to come after you, I would've done a better job than that."
"Then what was the point?"
"You were wasting my time on fake modesty. And while I don't care what you think, I would like to make a good grade in statistics."
His jaw flexed, but he remained silent. I could almost read his thoughts, like captions scrolling across his face. I was the girl he couldn't explain, the girl who looked like she was one bad day away from living in a homeless shelter. Yet I had a perfect GPA. His gaze swept slowly down me, taking in the golden braid, the lack of makeup, the mouth that cussed, the thrift-store clothes.
"Ash? Are you done?"
Faint color rose up his neck as his gaze returned to mine. "If you don't mind, I'd like us to call a truce."
"Why? We're not at war."
"It feels like it. You fight me every chance you get."
His accusation baffled me. In three years of high school, we'd only talked to each other when an assignment required it. And although it was true that I could get stubborn about ideas, it was only because I believed I was right. It had never been anything personal against him. "I don't fight you."
His eyebrow arched skeptically.
Okay, I was curious now. "Like when?"
"You rewrote every one of our lab reports in freshman biology."
"You had just moved here and didn't know how to impress Mr. Tuttle. I did."
"On our project team in US history, you vetoed every suggestion I made."
An exaggeration. Mostly. "We were capable of more. You never took chances."
He flinched and cut a glance at his friends. They hovered nearby, staring with open animosity. He shifted a step closer to me, his body blocking them from view, and lowered his voice. "You propose insane ideas just to stir things up."
"Not the point at all." He must be determined to misread me. The obvious motives were actually the correct ones. "An idea has to be insane to make an Aplus."
"Insane is more likely to crash and burn."
"Students like us do not crash and burn, Ash. You play it too safe."
"Easy for you to say. You've got valedictorian in the bag."
It stunned me that he would allude to such a thing. Did being valedictorian matter to him? It never really had to me. As long as colleges threw buckets of money at me, they could call me anything they wanted. "I don't care about being valedictorian. Do you?"
"My parents —" His lips clamped shut.
Whoa. His parents must be harassing him about being ranked number two, especially behind someone like Eden Moore. Pity stirred within me, laced with a decent amount of envy. My parents didn't have a clue about what I did at school. And if my dad could have his way, my grades would suck so that I would never leave home.
I looked around us. The hallway had grown quiet. My precious break was ticking away while I wondered how to respond to Ash. I would not call a truce. That would be confessing to something I hadn't done, but I also didn't want him to think I fought him for no reason. "Why is this so important to you?"
"I'm not sure. Why did you punt control of the project to me?"
"You were the best person for the job." I held his gaze, oddly anxious for him to believe me.
"Wow. That was not what I expected you to say." His expression softened from pissed to puzzled. "Thanks. I think."
I smiled, which was more like a happy twitching of the mouth. He must've recognized it, though, because his lips twitched, too.
With a relieved nod, I brushed past him and continued to the cafeteria. Although I hadn't enjoyed that little confrontation, the way it ended gave me hope that this year might be bearable.CHAPTER 2
The Tackle or the Save
When I got off the bus on Wednesday, I saw my stepmom — still in her work uniform — standing with my dad in our carport. His truck was parked there. Her car was missing. Not a good sign.
As I walked up the driveway, I could hear them arguing. At the crunch of my shoes on the gravel, they stopped abruptly and faced me.
"What's going on?" I asked.
Marnie chewed on a ragged thumbnail. "My car had a flat."
"On the highway, not far from the nursing home."
"Can you use the spare?"
"I was driving on the spare." She looked like she was about to cry.
My parents couldn't afford whatever it would take to replace a tire. The three drivers in our family were down to Dad's truck. That was bad on many levels. "I'll pay for it."
She squeezed her eyes shut.
Dad shook his head. "It gets worse."
"A sheriff's deputy pulled over to help her. He noticed that the car wasn't registered."
I groaned. "What did he do?"
"Gave her a warning, and told her not to let him see the car on the road again until that was taken care of."
I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. "Why did you let the registration lapse?"
Her eyes fluttered open. "The car can't pass inspection."
"What's wrong with it?"
"The main problem is the tires. They don't have enough tread left."
Marnie was driving on bald tires? "All of them?"
She nodded, her face a mask of anguish.
I made a worst-case calculation in my head and ... holy shit.
Dad cleared his throat. "Eden —"
"No, Byron. Stop," Marnie hissed.
He shrugged and looked away.
Here was the part where I should offer to cover all costs, but the thought of it made me dizzy. My savings account was the closest thing I had to a college fund. I'd worked my ass off for every penny. I had big plans for that account. A road trip or two to visit college campuses. Food and textbooks next year. If I fixed my stepmom's car, the balance would drop by a third or more.
That option was likely what they had been arguing about earlier. Dad would take my money. Marnie wouldn't. "Is your car still parked on the highway?"
"Yes." She sounded defeated.
I couldn't let this slide. I met my dad's gaze and nodded.
"Are you babysitting the Fremonts tonight?" he asked.
"I'll drive, if you want."
Choking on a sob, Marnie spun around and ran up the front porch steps and into the house.
I was tired of bailing my parents out, but what choice did I have? I couldn't let her drive like that, and Dad didn't have a solution. He hadn't been steadily employed since he was laid off from the power plant two years ago. He'd scrounged up a job as the caretaker of this mobile-home community, although it had never been clear to me how they paid him. Our trailer appeared to be rent-free, but there never seemed to be anything in the way of actual cash. We'd be on food stamps without Marnie's job, and she couldn't hold onto it without a dependable car.
Why was I even bothering to debate this? I had no choice. "Let's leave soon, Dad. We have to make a stop at the bank."
He gave me a quick, one-armed hug. "Thanks, baby girl."
* * *
My arrangement with the Fremonts was different from most babysitting jobs. I slept over in their guest room several nights each week, taking care of two little kids while their mom worked a shift at a hospital down the Carolina coast in Wilmington.
This evening's bedtime routine was not going well.
Kurt was in a particularly bad mood after his third day as a first-grader, and he was taking it out on me. Everything got to him. He complained about washing his hair. Loudly. Then I put too much toothpaste on his toothbrush. He splashed water on his pajamas — not much, but enough that he wouldn't go to bed in them. Since they were his favorite pajamas this week, he wasn't sleeping in anything else.
Into the dryer went the Spider-Man pajamas. After they cooled down to room temperature, he put them on, slid into bed, and dropped off within three minutes.
My teachers had loaded me down with homework tonight, so it sucked that I lost a half hour trying to get Kurt in bed. But I knew he hadn't done it on purpose. Sometimes, bad days happened.
While I was reviewing my chemistry notes, small feet padded across the den and stopped at the entrance to the kitchen. I could practically feel eyes focusing on my head.
I shifted in my chair. Marta stared at me, her face solemn, her thin body enveloped from neck to knees in a Carolina Panthers football jersey.
"Hey, Marta. What's up?"
"I'm ready for bed."
"Did you have a good day at school?"
"Do you have any homework?"
"I won't have any this week."
"Great," I said with a smile. "I guess I'll see you in the morning, then."
She didn't move.
It was hard to tell what went on behind those big dark eyes, but it did seem like she was waiting on me. I nodded with encouragement. "Is there something else?"
"Can we talk?"
Not now pressed against my lips, but I swallowed the words. "Sure."
She slipped her hand into mine and tugged. "We should check on Kurt."
"Okay." This was interesting. There was no need to check on him. He always fell into a dead sleep once his head touched the pillow. "Your brother was a little poopy tonight."
"He was a lot poopy tonight."
We pushed open his bedroom door, sending a narrow beam of light cutting through the darkness. Kurt was motionless, his lips pursed in a little rosebud.
She snuggled against my side, warm and smelling of Dove soap and citrus toothpaste. "Will he ever get better?"
A shudder rippled through me. She looked up, eyes narrowing with concern. I slid an arm around her bony shoulders and hugged her close.
Why had she picked today to ask me about Kurt's disabilities?
Okay, why not today?
I'd dreaded this question from the moment I was hired. I'd often wondered when it might show up and hoped it was something she would only ask her mom, because there was no safe answer. It was hard to predict what would happen to a kid like Kurt. I had no idea what to say — no one did — but I don't know wasn't good enough.
What did I want the answer to be? "I think Kurt will surprise us all."
Her mouth wanted to smile but was afraid to. "You think so?"
"I do." I nudged her the two steps to her bedroom.
She ran in, took a flying leap, and landed in the middle of her purple comforter. "My friend Missy says he won't graduate from high school. Is that true, Eden?"
Her friend Missy needed to butt out. "I think he absolutely will."
"What about college?"
"Kurt is smart. He'll go to college if he wants to." I snapped out the lights and stepped into the hall.
"Will I always have to take care of him?"
The question whispered down my spine, stopping me in my tracks. What a thing to wonder about at age ten. I ached to be optimistic, but who knew what might happen? "It's what sisters do."
"Yeah." She gave me a small smile before rolling to her side, her back to me.
I closed her door and wandered to the kitchen, but I couldn't concentrate on chemistry, my mind turning over Marta's questions. How long had they bothered her? And if I knew Marta, she wasn't through. There would be more questions, and I ought to have better answers.
In the months since I'd been working for the Fremonts, I'd made it a habit to search the Internet for high-functioning autism. It had only been a couple of weeks since my last try, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to look again tonight and add the string college.
Excerpted from The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day. Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Langston. 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
1. An Exercise in Probabilities,
2. The Tackle or the Save,
3. Pain to Pain,
4. Fake Delight,
5. A Calculated Plan,
6. A Scuzzy Place,
7. Terminally Embarrassed,
8. Whatever University,
9. Bag Lady,
10. The Same Dazed Regret,
11. Ancient Formals,
12. Stark Lines,
13. Enthusiastic Vigilance,
14. Flame Out,
15. A Complete Revelation,
16. Mighty Vocabulary,
17. The Wiser Option,
18. A Mere Backdrop,
19. Marginally Perpendicular,
20. A Predictable Affair,
21. From His Perspective,
22. Imminent Retribution,
23. A Film of Tears,
24. In Jeopardy,
25. Definition of Perfect,
26. Bleeding Into the Boards,
27. Gaping Wound,
28. Too Tired to Lie,
29. More Natural Consequences,
30. The Future I Needed,
31. The Missing Link,
32. Burst of Glory,
33. Joined Hands,
34. Sweet Promise,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wanted to read this one because I liked that it dealt with smart kids who are from different walks of life. The hint of a new romance between the rivals for valedictorian also interested me. To some extent the sound of Eden reminded me of myself. I grew up in trailer parks more often than not, had little money, wanted to go to college, was fairly good with grades but not as good as Eden, and I had and still have to this day problems with socialization. She is wary of others, keeps to herself a lot, and while our reasoning may be different, the results are the same. Ash also was fun to read about. It's clear that he is under a lot of pressure from his parents to get good grades and they aren't happy with him being 2nd in the class. But his interactions with Eden are slightly awkward and she begins to see a side of him that he'd never shown her or that she didn't notice. This was an easy read in some aspects, even when it dealt with some tough issues. Money is an issue a lot with Eden and her family and she gives them some of her college savings and it's hard for them all. Eden also babysits regularly for a family and the kids have really worked themselves into her heart. The girl, 10 is way more mature than she should be because the little boy, in 1st grade is a high functioning autistic. Eden in seeing his intelligence but also the autism that limits him and keeps hi in its cage has really made an impact on her and she wants to study special education specializing in autism. Though it did begin to get really emotional and I am one who drinks angst like there is no tomorrow, so that was good for me. I also liked that this book focused on family and friendship, showing that both can be imperfect but still present and a big part of the character's lives. Mundy is the new girl and she is bold in approaching Eden and doesn't let Eden use her usual maneuvers in order to evade the friendship. Its not perfect and Mundy does hide things that end up hurting Eden. But Eden also learns that even if things aren't perfect, and even if Mundy isn't going to be around physically for more than a semester, that their time and friendship still deserved to happen and that it was a good thing. Relationships can grow and change and often distance can be a factor, but it proved to Eden that even though her biological mother abandoned her and never looked back that it wasn't necessarily what would happen with every other relationship. I liked how close Eden and her stepmother was, and how Marnie supported her and loved her and wanted the best for her even though they weren't blood related. Eden and her dad have it rough and there is some abusive tendencies there, but I also saw in moments that he cared for her, so even though it needed a lot of help and there should have been bigger consequences for his actions, that something might be salvageable. The Possibility of Somewhere also touches on race and class, segregation and racism. It's not preachy but I do like that it is an inter-racial relationship and it examines the complexities and the stereotypes and parents that think they know what is best and push too hard. I did like that Marnie was accepting and just wanted Eden to have a man who adored her and treated her right. I think that Ash's parents, being Indian and also first generations to the US had a hard time at first putting those cultural differences aside and they treated Eden un
It's interesting when we spend time with someone we think we have nothing in common with that we find something we do have in common. In this day and age, we have more in common than we don't but we often overlook it. This is a story that draws people together and looks at the common. Eden is the white trash of the community. She's working to get out of the trailer-park and away from the poverty by throwing herself into her education. She's worked hard and is close to reaching her dreams. But she has a chip on her shoulder and she doesn't want to consider what the rich boy may have in common with her. Ash is expected to have good grades and go to college. His parents are doctors and demand much from him. His Indian heritage and money have him walking in different circles than Eden. He's seen her as the competition for the scholarship his parents want him to win despite the fact that he wants to go to Stanford. Eden's always the mouthy girl that can't get along with anyone. Not a team player. He doesn't see what they have in common. But as they work together on a project they discover something different. The problem is that no one else is going to accept them. And the story really begins. I enjoyed the characters. They were well developed and authentic. They felt like high school students and not just an authors idea of what students are like. I'm always a hard sell on things like this. As a teacher, I'm around students a lot and authors can often get them wrong. This one got them right. The story is a hard one. I've hoped that we've come farther than parents keeping their teens away from someone they care about because of race or economics. But the news is enough to tell us that we haven't come nearly far enough. It was a great story to remind us about what's important in life. A great YA story that can be enjoyed by adults as well. This story will have you cheering for a couple that represents far more than the love they have for each other. It's good. Don't miss it.