What I’m Reading: An Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl

About

Hi, Aadi here. It’s so cold outside that I thought I’d bring you a little bit of summer in An Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl. This book is by the same author as The Perfect Blindside. I’m sure you’ll love this one too.

 

Author: Leslea Wahl

Publisher: eLectio Publishing

Age: YA

Category: Christian Fiction

The devastation of a ruined summer.

The gift of a second chance.

Can Josie learn the lessons she needs in order to discover her true self?

After a humiliating event and overwhelming peer pressure, 16-year-old Josie flees her home to spend the summer with her Aunt on a South Carolina island. Her fresh start turns into the summer of her dreams as friendships grow, romance blossoms, and a series of thefts surround her with excitement. However, when tragedy strikes someone close to her, Josie realizes there are more important things than her reputation. As she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also discovers who God wants her to be.

Excerpt:

“YOU RUINED MY LIFE!” I scream as I burst through the door, not caring that I probably just permanently scarred my vocal cords.

Okay, possibly a bit overdramatic but the severity of the situation needed to be conveyed.

My mother looks at me for a moment—her cell phone plastered to her ear. She covers the mouthpiece, then says, “Hi, sweetheart. What are you talking about?”

“Your stupid book!” I screech and toss a copy of Saving Sadie on the kitchen island. Her newest masterpiece pirouettes across the smooth gray-speckled granite, colliding with the fruit bowl. Two precariously perched oranges roll off the counter and plummet to the floor.

I spin on my heel, march up the stairs and into my bedroom. The slam of my door punctuates my exit. As I flop on the bed, my face buried in the down-filled pillow, I wonder how my life could be destroyed in a matter of mere hours.

This morning when I woke up I was an ordinary teenager, thrilled that it was the last day of school. I was on the verge of becoming an upperclassman. The curtain was at last closing on my lowly sophomoric life. I just had one final day to suffer through then I would no longer be the unworthy bottom of a high school social class system where upperclassmen rule and freshmen and sophomores haven’t earned the right to be cool. Jocks, cheerleaders, and poms are the popular crowd, the top of the hierarchy. If you’re unlucky enough to not only be an underclassman but also not be involved in an acceptably deemed activity then you are basically nonexistent. And that was exactly where I had found myself for the last two years. But that was about to change. I still wasn’t in with the cool kids, and probably never would be, but I was at least about to be an upperclassman, safe from the tyranny.

I only had to survive one final day and then the most amazing summer ever would begin. Teenage Utopia. Relaxing afternoons at the pool, glorious weekends at the lake. Here in Lake Forest, Minnesota, there is an unwritten rite of passage. Juniors and seniors overtake the lake on Sunday afternoons. (Such irony that in the land of 10,000 lakes we only have one nearby to enjoy.) The families frantically pack up their picnics, stuff the floaties in the back of their minivans, and flee the lake before teenagers flood the area, music blaring. To pacify the community the local police make their presence known so all stays innocent. Of course, I’ve only heard the legendary stories of adolescent joviality since I’ve been too inconsequential to enjoy it myself. But that was all on the verge of changing. This morning I had envisioned the promising future ahead of me. What a waste.

My mother knocks on my door, then—not waiting for an invitation—enters, like she owns the place.

“Josie, what’s this all about? Are you rehearsing a scene?” Her tone is somewhere between worry and annoyance.

“No, Mommy Dearest,” my voice muffled by the fluffy pillow. I roll on my side, fresh air filling my lungs. “This is not a problem that can be solved with a big musical production. This is my life and you have completely destroyed it!”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t go anywhere without being ridiculed and laughed at, that’s what’s wrong. How could you humiliate your own daughter like that?”

She takes a deep breath. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

How can she be so clueless?

“Your book!”

“My book? I think I need a little bit more to go on here.”

“Next time you decide to destroy my life can you at least warn me first?”

She sighs, then sits on the edge of my bed. She’s wearing her usual mom clothes, a t-shirt and yoga pants. The woman’s array of yoga pants can rival any sporting goods store’s collection. I’m not sure if she actually ever does any yoga but she’s always well prepared if the mood hits. “Honey, I still don’t know what’s wrong.”

“You mean besides the fact that I can no longer show my face around this town and that you have ruined what was supposed to be the most epic summer ever?”

“What does this have to do with my book?”

“How could you write those things?!”

“Josie, calm down, nothing in the book is about you.”

“But no one knows that! You always include my most embarrassing moments in your books.”

As cool as it seems to have a mom who’s an author, it’s actually a total pain. My mother loves to scatter my unfortunate mishaps throughout her books. It’s not that I’m a total klutz, I mean everyone has moments of ineptitude, right? I’m just lucky enough to have mine set in print for all eternity. Actually, I pride myself on being a pretty graceful dancer. But I have this horribly bad habit of diving headfirst into life without contemplating the outcomes. My classmates in elementary and middle school called these incidents “Josie moments.” The kids were like mini detectives scouring the pages of Mom’s novels in search of them. Her last book included my very dramatic fainting episode during the school choir concert in second grade, and my unfortunate panic attack in the corn maze during the class field trip. Hey, getting lost in miles of towering maize can be extremely traumatizing.

“That’s ridiculous. It’s a fictional novel,” my mom says dismissively. “No one will think it’s about you.”

“You made the lead character a sophomore in high school who’s in the theater club. Of course everyone thinks it’s me!”

“I think you’re overreacting. Come on, honey, let’s go make some popcorn and watch an old movie. That always cheers you up.”

“Mom, seriously, this isn’t some little problem that you can tidy up like in one of your books with some lovely mother-daughter time. You wrote those horrible things and now I have to live with the consequences. My amazing summer has been stolen from me.”

I bury my head back in my pillow. How could my own mother be responsible for the collapse of my world?

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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