Title: After the Storm
Author: Marie Landry
For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.
When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reservation, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.
Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…
Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece. She's a hopeless romantic, an unapologetic eavesdropper (occupational hazard), an equally unapologetic squeeing fangirl, and a lover of swoonworthy book and TV characters. For more on Marie and her books please visit http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.
ca. She also loves to chat with fellow book lovers, so feel free to tweet her @SweetMarie any time!
Excerpt from After the Storm:
~ the 13th~
I have no idea how much time passes before a loud honking snaps me out of my reverie. Ezra’s car pulls into the driveway, stopping just feet away. I can see him and Charlotte through the windshield, both grinning at me.
Ezra revs the engine and leans out the open driver’s side window. “Got your permit on you?”
“It’s in the house. Why?”
“Oh, you know…” His arm swings down to pat the door. “I just thought maybe you’d want to take her for a little spin.”
My heart leaps into my throat. “It’s not nice to tease, Ezra Rhodes.”
“Who says I’m teasing?” He lifts his sunglasses, settling them on top of his head and looking at me with eyes full of laughter. “If you can get your permit and be back here in two minutes, I’ll let you drive.”
I don’t even think about it; I grab my bag and run for the house. I fumble my keys from the side pocket as I run up the porch stairs, hearing the car doors opening behind me, and Ezra and Charlotte chuckling. I dump my bag the second I’m through the door and run as fast as I can upstairs, grabbing my permit from the desk drawer.
When I get back outside, Ezra has Charlotte backed up against the passenger side of the car, his hands entwined in her hair and his mouth practically devouring hers.
“Guys, seriously?” I ask, bending at the waist to catch my breath.
They pull apart slowly and Ezra opens the back passenger door for Charlotte. Her eyes meet mine for a second and I almost laugh when I see how glazed they are. I know I shouldn’t think these things about my sister’s boyfriend, but Ezra does look like a really good kisser. I’d probably be glassy-eyed and goofy-smiled after being kissed like that too.
Once he closes Charlotte’s door, Ezra opens the front passenger door and climbs in. “You coming?”
I run to the driver’s side and slide in behind the wheel. Before I do anything else, I glance at Ezra, waiting for him to tell me it was a joke or decide he doesn’t trust me enough to drive his precious Impala. I’m suddenly incredibly nervous, and I swallow hard, waiting for him to speak.
“What do you do first?” His voice is calm and there’s something in his eyes—faith? Reassurance?—that makes me want to just break down and cry, but I don’t. I can’t. He and Charlotte would think I’m losing it.
Without a word, I adjust the seat so I can reach the pedals, lower the steering wheel, check the side and rearview mirrors, and then fasten my seatbelt. “Right?”
“Gold star.” He grins at me, and for the millionth time in the last few weeks I think how freaking lucky my sister is to have found a guy like him.
“Are you sure about this?” I know I should keep my mouth shut in case he really does change his mind, but I need to be sure.
“If I can let Charlotte drive the Impala, I have no problem with you driving it.”
“Hey.” Charlotte reaches forward to smack his arm, but he dodges it, chuckling. “It’s true, though,” she says to me. “The first time he let me drive was late at night on a pitch dark road when I was still terrified of driving. And you know how jerky I still am. He has burn marks from the seatbelt because I’ve slammed on the brakes so many times. At least you know what you’re doing.”
I stifle a laugh. Ezra’s been teaching Charlotte to drive for the last few weeks. I got my permit as soon as I turned sixteen, but Charlotte had no interest in driving. She said we lived in a huge city where she could get anywhere she wanted on the subway, bus, train, or by foot, but once we moved to Angel Island, all those choices were taken away. Ezra loaned her his mother’s old bicycle, and then eventually started giving her driving lessons.
She confided in me a couple weeks ago that part of the reason she didn’t want to drive was because Mom was supposed to teach her but then she got too sick. Now she’s kind of uneasy behind the wheel but Ezra’s really patient with her, and Dad’s taken her out a few times too.
“Okay then,” I say, putting the car in reverse. “Let’s do this.”
Twenty minutes later I’ve gone down at least a dozen side roads and we’re back on the main street a few minutes from our house. I was nervous at first, my hands clenched on the wheel at ten and two, but when Ezra turned the volume up on the radio, I relaxed. Between the music, the sound of Charlotte and Ezra’s voices and laughter, and the fresh lake air that blows in through the open windows, I’m in heaven.
“I think the thirteenth will be my lucky day from now on,” I say, raising my voice to be heard over the wind and Bono’s voice as he belts out ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’. “It’s been a pretty damn perfect day.”