Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl—but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam’s not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it’s all part of her older brother’s plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. Fifteen-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place—their mother.
Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and traveling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The
problem? Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.
I was mighty grateful that he covered her up, especially when he said that death made a person look frightful, and that I shouldn't even attempt to look.Excerpt 2:
Yeah, no problem there.
"Just do it or I'll clock you upside your head." He bent down and placed his hands under her arms to get a good grip. "Grab 'er feet, and when I say lift, you'd better lift, or else."
I wanted to tell him to leave me alone, and that just because he was older than me didn’t give him the right to tell me what to do, but his warning look kept me from saying a word. I bent over to take hold of her feet and accidently breathed in the acidic smell of decay, alcohol, and cheap perfume permeating from the sheet.
Bile burned in my throat, and my eyes stung and began watering. I rolled my shoulders forward when my stomach lurched, but despite my body's mad attempt to force me to puke my guts out, only dry heaves followed, over and over. It took a while for the waves of nausea to settle, but my head swam in dizziness and my body ached—boy, did I hurt. My legs wobbled and my insides twisted and cramped, but I didn't throw up. Once the dry heaving stopped, I swiped the back of my hand over my mouth to remove a fine thread of spittle from my lips.
"I'm sorry." Jacob's face softened, though he continued to hold onto Mama's shoulders, letting me know we still needed to move a dead body. "I really am."
"Whatever." I gave in, bending and grabbing my dead mama's ankles. "Let's do this."
We stopped in a remote town outside of Kansas City, and while Jacob added a few dollars of gas to the car, I went inside the convenience store to use the restroom. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, but when I returned to the car, Jacob kept glancing around, and his hands shook even though the sun hung high in the midday sky.**My thoughts**
"We need to go. Get in the car."
His jitteriness made me nervous. I couldn't see anything around that should, but I climbed into the car as he'd told me to. He reached across and locked my door, and I tensed and sat rigid in my seat.
"What's going on?"
"Not now." He started the car and we pulled onto the highway.
He kept looking into the rearview mirror every few seconds, so I turned in my seat and glanced behind us, too. I didn't see a thing. No one followed us.
"Is it the police?"
He didn't say anything, but pressed on the gas to make the car go faster. I continued to watch behind us, but after awhile I gave up and turned back around in my seat. I'd no idea why he acted the way he did.
"You're scaring me." I watched my brother's profile. "What's going on?"
"We're going to have to cut your hair."
That took me by surprise, and I struggled to understand what one thing had to do with the other. "What are you talking about?"
"Didn't you see how those guys back there looked at you?" He turned and glanced at me before staring ahead again.
"What guys?" I had no idea what he was talking about.
"The ones sitting outside the gas station. They watched you the whole time."
"You mean the guys with the motorcycles?" A couple of bikers parked outside the convenience store hadn't appeared to be doing much of anything, just sitting there. I'd hardly noticed them at all.
He nodded. "They watched everything you did."
"I didn't see them watching me."
He sneered. "That doesn't surprise me. You don't notice anything."
"So what," I argued. "So they were watching me. What's the big deal? Why do I have to cut my hair?"
Jacob breathed deeply and then released it. "Because you didn't see the way they looked at you." He kept driving onward. "Sam, don't you have any better clothes than this?" He tugged on my tank shirt. "You've got to get rid of this and those cutoff shorts too. You're attracting the wrong kind of attention."
"I'm not trying to attract any attention. I'm not doing anything—"
"It's not you, Sam," he interrupted. "It's those perverts that I'm worried about. You're growing up and men are starting to look."
Why would men be looking at a twelve-year-old girl? A chill ran down my spine, and I shivered while looking back out the rear window again. No one followed behind us.
I slumped back down in my seat. "So, why do I have to cut my hair?"
He stared at me and then looked away. "Because, Sam, the best way to keep you safe is to make you look like you're my brother."
This book affected me deeply. It is one of the best reads I have had this summer. Samantha and Jacob's story is a sad one. No one wants them. Their father is estranged. Their mama is dead. They only have each other. They're way underage, but determined to stay together. Jacob is extremely overprotective of Sam, but he has good reason. He just hasn't shared that with her, yet, so she hasn't yet shared it with us.
They fumble around, trying to make ends meet, while simultaneously fearing getting caught. Sam wants to trust people who are kind to her, but Jacob is still extremely wary of adults. Neither one knows how to handle any kindnesses given to them. It is heartbreaking. I was reading while holed up in a booth at my local bar and grill and had to duck to hide the tears in my eyes. I made sure I left when I got toward the end where all of the secrets are revealed, because I didn't want to cry in public.
The love between these siblings is intense. It's not something you witness every day. The secrets that they hide are absolutely horrible. You think you know what really happened to them, until you find out the truth. The twists will keep you on your toes.
At the end of my review copy was a chapter from an upcoming book called Desert Flower. It is a continuation of their story. I need to get my hands on that one. Well done, Angela Scott.
Buy links: Kindle | Paperback | Nook
I hear voices. Tiny fictional people sit on my shoulders and whisper their stories in my ear. Instead of medicating myself, I decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it into a book. I’m not crazy. I’m an author. For the most part, I write contemporary Young Adult novels.
However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, I found myself writing about zombies terrorizing the Wild Wild West—and loving it. My zombies don’t sparkle, and they definitely don’t cuddle. At least, I wouldn’t suggest it.
I live on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a very patient husband. I graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because of my love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn’t require math. I can’t spell, and grammar is my arch nemesis. But they gave me the degree, and there are no take backs.
As a child, I never sucked on a pacifier; I chewed on a pencil. I’ve been writing that long. It has only been the past few years that I’ve pursued it professionally, forged relationships with other like-minded individuals, and determined to make a career out of it.
You can find me at my website, where I blog obsessively about my writing process and post updates on my current works. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook, but be forewarned, I tweet and post more than a normal person.
Twitter - @whimsywriting
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*