Explanation of this sample page...

This page illustrates that the novel is designed to help teens learn to work through some of the more serious problems that they can face. The twelve teens in the novel all have important challenges and dilemmas with which to deal. Teen readers identify with the characters whose problems are most similar to theirs; and as the characters receive the help they need, readers have the same opportunity to learn and heal. In the following sample page, Candace, who is being molested and is trapped in the situation, finally opens up and talks plainly about what is happening, expressing her extreme frustrations. She speaks the way counselors hear these children speak in counseling offices. They don't often speak discreetly. They just tell it the way it is. This novel must ring true to them, or they won't keep reading. Opening up is always the prerequisite to receiving help.


CANDACE BEGAN to cry softly. "I wish I was in Hope's home."

Kyong Suk was sitting next to Candace. Kyong Suk reached over and pulled Candace close. "It's okay. You can talk. Everyone here already knows."

Dale handed Candace a paper towel torn off the roll he kept in his truck. Candace pulled away from Kyong Suk to blot her tears and runny makeup. With her head down and long blond hair shielding her face, she said, "It's true, Coach John. My stepdad's dad makes me do stuff with him. Everything's so weirded out. He's...he's even jealous of my boyfriends! Can you believe that? Gramps is jealous of sixteen-year-olds. He's afraid I'll let them do it with me. He's afraid he'll get a disease from them or something. He's so gross!"

There was silence in the meadow. It was as if even the crickets chose not to disturb Candace's painful words.

Maria was crying, too. She asked Candace, "Does your mom know?"


"Why not?"

"It would kill her."

Maria slipped from the tailgate and knelt at Candace's knees, placing a hand on her leg, showing support.

"Kill her?" Maria repeated.

"My mom has been married three times, and now, for the first time in her life, she is happy. Nothing could make me take that away from her." Candace began to cry again. She spoke slowly between sobs, "I... love... her... so... much,... and... she's... had... it... so... hard."

Maria tore off a piece of Candace's paper towel and blotted tears and makeup from her own eyes, "There are authorities that you can report this to. They'll know how to handle it."

"I know. I called the police. I didn't tell them who I was, but I told them my story."

Candace leaned close to Maria's ear and said, "They asked me if I had ever had sex before. I said I had done it with two guys. They said I didn't have a good case. I'd be made to look like a slut in court, and it'd probably be thrown out. They said the burden of proof would be on me.