Seventeen year old Lisa Brown’s life is falling apart. First, her mother and father divorce, then their house forecloses and now, her mother has decided to commit herself to a psychiatric hospital.
If that weren’t enough, she must leave sunny south Florida to attend a boarding school full of geniuses in cold, Lynn, Massachusetts. The city where the locals chant “Lynn, Lynn, city of sin; you never come out the way you went in.”
And, they aren’t kidding. Lisa must live in a tiny shack with two strange teenagers, a dog named Pig who growls when you look at him and a cat named Rat. “Mind the cat,” everyone says. What the heck is wrong with this place?
Lisa thinks she’s landed in her own house of horrors with the anti-social Alex and his facetious sister Ally. But, the real drama begins the day she is struck by lightning…
For instance, I enjoyed the quick read, but I also kind of disliked it. I'm a fan of meatier books, but it's totally fine, because this is a series, and there will be more. Another thing that drove me a tad bit insane was the wordings. I loved the story that the wording was telling, but I found myself mentally adding apostrophes and commas.
I did enjoy the paranormal aspect of the story though, so there is that. There were definitely moments when I thought that I'd heard some of the things before, but that's okay, because I had. A lot of paranormal novels repeat themselves though, so I'm really not too worried about that. I mean, ever fifth book is about vampires or werewolves, so I can totally give props to the person who didn't got that route with paranormals, and who at least wrote their own unique paranormal.
I can also give her props for taking the time to give structure to her novel--the plot traveled along quickly, and I was never bored. However, I wish that the characters had been more developed, and that the romance had been less insta-love with control issues. I found myself so many times wanting to beat Lisa over the head with a stick, because she said something that totally went against what had happened. It was ridiculous.
All in all, I'll definitely be looking forward to what this author puts out in the future, because I felt that she had quite a bit of untapped potential, but this just isn't the best novel for me.
*This book was provided by the author for a blog tour.
My heart beat furiously. I looked up at the flashes of lightning in the sky. Yes, I should be dead.
Why wasn’t I?
AMBER CHECKS IN
Our home foreclosed and it was eviction day. My mother couldn’t keep a job; no matter how simple or easy it was. She was beautiful with long blond hair and bright green eyes that sparkled when she spoke. She landed every job she applied for but several weeks later, her new employer realized all Amber really was: a pretty face.
I looked nothing like my mom. I was seventeen but still didn’t fit into my body. My hips were too big, my boobs too small and I had Dumbo ears which, of course, meant that I had to wear my hair down—always. I had long bangs that helped cover up my oddly round, black eyes and I could never find shoes that fit my big feet.
“Lisa, I’m not going to tell you again; we leave in twenty minutes. I can’t afford to miss your train.”
“Yeah, well, you could try to hide your enthusiasm.” I rolled my eyes and grabbed an empty box. I surveyed my room. What could I possibly take? I lived in Florida, the Sunshine State. I was going to Lynn, Massachusetts. The old saying, “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin” played over and over inside my mind. How could my mother just drop me off in such a place? Lynn was filled with high crime rates, lack of good paying jobs and supported virtually on nothing more than fish markets and the GE factories. At least it was by the water. I couldn’t imagine life without sand between my toes. I could do without the sun tans, I guess, and the hot skaters who practiced on the benches but not the salty water.
“LISA! Get in the car!”
I evaluated the few things I had. I grabbed two pairs of jeans and anything with sleeves. I picked up my sneakers and my Adidas jacket from off the floor and I tossed my book bag over my shoulder. Inside the box, I put the only family heirloom I had: a picture of my mother and father from before I was born. …When they still loved each other, still laughed, still hoped. That must’ve been something to see. The only time my mother smiled or laughed was during an interview. It was never real and when her eyes set on me, she only frowned.
I placed the few articles of clothing on top of my picture and carried the box out to the trunk. My mom had an old 1993 Mitsubishi Mirage with hardly any paint left. The worst part—the air didn’t work; complete suicide in a place where the temperature stayed around 90 degrees.
“Just take your sweet, precious time there, Lisa,” She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “I hope you don’t act up with your Aunt Millie. She would be just devastated and when she falls over with a stroke or heart attack from your disrespectful behavior you will have to carry her twenty miles to the nearest town.”
“A little dramatic, don’t you think?” I snapped, tossing my book bag into the back. The seat belt automatically locked me in when I closed the door. (The air conditioning didn’t work, there was hardly any paint left on the vehicle but, hey, at least the automatic seatbelts still worked!) “Roll the windows down, mom; it’s hot in here.” I leaned my head out the window to catch the last, hot Florida breeze I’d probably ever feel.
“Aunt Millie said you could help her out with her chickens, and she’d pay you so that you could buy some warmer clothes while you’re there. I’m sorry I am such a bad mother.”
“Why are you leaving me with some woman I don’t know? That’s bad parenting. Mom, you’ve never met this lady. What if she’s a serial killer or a chicken thief or some kind of lunatic?”
“I have to do this.” Her eyes stayed glued to the road. “I need to figure out what is wrong with me. I ran off your father with my emotional problems and I don’t want to drag you down with me, too.”
“Mom, I don’t want to go stay with some stranger.”
She couldn’t hear me. She blasted the radio and sang loudly, bouncing her head from left to right. She slapped me in the shoulder. “Stah—op!”
“Sing with me, Lisa; it may be a long time before we get to do this again. I may be in that loony bin for a while.”
I didn’t think it was funny at all. Who wanted a mother that was crazy? What would I tell people when school started? So, Lisa, where is your mother? Oh, new potential friend, she’s probably in her padded cell wearing a strait jacket. How about your mom? I’ll be Miss Popularity for sure.
Amber turned into the train station, and with a deep breath, she took my hands gently in hers. “I’m sorry for being such a screwy mother but I promise I am going to change and we will look back on the past five years and laugh about it all. You believe me, don’t you? That, I am going to change and be a better person?”
“Of course, mom, acknowledgment is half the cure.”
She was doomed. But who was I to be the one to tell her that? At least she was signing herself over to them. They’d keep her there until they could fix whatever was wrong inside her brain. “I better go before I miss my train.” I reached into the backseat and grabbed my backpack. “Pop the trunk, mom. I have a box in the back.”
“Please be careful. There are some real crazies on the train.” Now she cared?
“I’ll be fine, I promise. I have taken public transportation before. Get better soon. I love you.”
“Okay,” Amber wiped tears from her eyes. She never said she loved me back. It was a little disturbing.
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Aunt Millie is a stranger,” I said. My mom started her car and sped out of the parking lot like she was escaping a burning building.
I carried my things across to the other side of the tracks. I had to take an elevator up to a ramp, cross above the tracks and then take another elevator down so that I could wait for the north train. This was going to be the longest ride. It didn’t seem fair really that I was the one who had to travel from the southeast coast all the way northeast just so my mother could “stabilize” herself or as I called it, get more legal drugs that kept her in fairy tale world. She was just a pill popper and I couldn’t stand it.
What did I know about Aunt Millie? She’d lived her entire life in Lynn, Massachusetts out in the woods—what was left of it anyway—and worked as a dean at a boarding school for gifted boys and girls. She lived right behind the old school and had her own personal pond, a chicken coop and two pets. One dog named Pig and a Himalayan cat that she called Rat. During the one conversation I’d had with her, she’d admitted that her pets didn’t really care for her but showed up for dinner and that I was not to pet the cat. Who had pets that did not want to be touched? Since she was a dean at the boarding school, she pulled some strings and was able to enroll me, even though I wasn’t a genius. She made sure to repeat the part about my not being a genius at least three times before moving on to dorm room arrangements. I’d have to dorm with some girl named Donna Denning. Aunt Millie had promised to introduce us ahead of time. She said she was a sweet girl.
To be completely honest, I was kind of happy to be moving to Lynn. I hated leaving my friends behind but a little change of pace didn’t sound so bad. I just wished my mother would come too. Maybe that was all she needed: new surroundings. No, that had never helped before. I had a gut feeling that I’d seen my mother for the last time. I didn’t want to accept such a horrific reality so I shoved the idea into the very back of my mind; a place I refused to visit.
“Ticket?” I looked up at the train conductor. He held out his hand. “Do you have a ticket?” He asked. I nodded, reaching inside my bag.
“Sorry, I was daydreaming.” I handed him my crinkled confirmation page. “I ordered over the phone and they told me to write down this number for you.”
“You will have to pay with cash once the train starts moving. Did you bring your ID?” I nodded and showed him my learner’s permit. Thanks to Amber, I couldn’t drive yet. I’d never had the chance to practice driving. Maybe Aunt Millie would teach me. “Your assigned seat is 38A.”
“Thanks,” I carried my box up the three steps and carefully placed it up above my assigned seat. I should’ve packed more clothes. Oh, well, too late for regrets.
The train gradually moved forward and I stared out the window. I placed my hand on the glass and sighed.
“Goodbye, Florida; Goodbye, Mom.”