Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have Rachael Allen, whose upcoming young adult contemporary, The Summer of Impossibilities, releases May 12 from Abrams! We’ve got an exclusive excerpt from the story, so check out the blurb and dig in! (And pssst: keep scrolling for your chance to win an advanced copy!)
Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.
One can’t wait.
One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning.
Two are sisters.
Three are currently feuding with their mothers.
One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow.
Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong.
One of them is hiding how bad her joint pain has gotten.
All of them are hiding something.
One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised.
Two fall in love with each other.
None of them are the same at the end of the summer.
And here’s the excerpt!
I WAS HOPING SHE WOULD BE THE FIRST PERSON I saw. Only, now that I’m here, I have no idea what to do. I know what she was thinking about doing with that knife—it’s why I stopped dead in the doorway, so she’d have a chance to put it down and paste a smile on her face before my mom could see around my body. But maybe I would have stopped dead no matter what. There’s something about seeing her in person after so many emails that makes me forget how to breathe.
“Scarlett, hi.” Mom gives her a hug. “You’ve gotten so tall.”
She’s definitely taller than I imagined she would be, but I’m only five foot four, so everyone is tall. She’s even more beautiful than in her pictures, all long red hair and curves and freckles. But somehow different. Edgier or sexier.
I stay on the other side of the room. If I get too close to her, will she know? I feel like my mom would know.
“Is Adeline around?” Mom asks, brows furrowed with concern.
“She’s upstairs.” Scarlett bites her lip, and I have to look out the window. “I think she’s not doing so well. Can you check on her?”
“Of course.” Mom squeezes her shoulder and leaves immediately. There’s something about the way she walks out of the room—her steps are so purposeful. I almost don’t recognize her for a second.
Skyler bounds in just as Mom is leaving. She grins at me, but her eyes are red.
“Amelia Grace!” she squeals, giving me a big, bouncy hug. “I haven’t seen you in forever! You look just like your pictures on Insta!”
And then it feels like it would be weird for Scarlett and me not to hug after I’ve just hugged her sister, and she must be feeling the same way because she takes a couple steps toward me too. Her shirt is wet in patches, and so is her hair.
“Are you okay?” I ask. It’s a general are you okay, but buried underneath is a very specific are you okay? Because back when things were really bad, with the girls at school and the cutting, she used to email me every day. But that was three years ago, before our emails trickled to every few weeks and then every few months. A part of me wants to pick back up right where we left off, but—
“I’m fine,” she says.
She hugs me, and it isn’t a big or bouncy one like Skyler’s, and it’s over too quickly, and it doesn’t answer any of my questions. I guess I thought we meant more to each other than that.
There’s the sound of another car pulling up outside, and Skyler runs out of the room to meet them, her chestnut ponytail swinging behind her. Scarlett takes exactly one step closer. She lowers her voice and says in a whisper that’s just for me, “I’m really glad you’re here.”
My heart squeezes in my chest, and I almost choke on my own spit. “Me too.”
The kitchen gets really quiet. I can hear Skyler outside, greeting the new arrivals with some unintelligible bubbliness. A trickle of water from the faucet goes drip- drip- dripping down the sink.
“I should, um, go upstairs and change.” She gestures to her shirt.
“Right. See you.” See you? Of course, I’ll see her. We are living in the same dang house for the summer.
Her footsteps echo up the stairs, and I feel like I’m on the cusp of realizing some great truth. Then my phone dings in my pocket. Carrie? I type in my password. Nah, just a bunch of social media updates. Including one from Carrie. It’s a photo of a book she’s reading—she posts those a lot—with a tiny caption.
So, she does have her phone. Well, maybe she doesn’t know what to say or maybe she’s feeling really bad about things or maybe she wishes it never happened and she never wants to see me again but she’s too sweet to tell me.
What if you just promised you wouldn’t kiss any more girls or go on dates or anything?
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal to promise that after all. If Carrie doesn’t want to talk to me, I mean, I don’t know anyone else in Ranburne who might be interested. And Scarlett, well. She’s in a relationship. I know this. She has emailed me about this. I have pretended to be happy for her on multiple occasions.
I could email Pastor Chris—he’s our youth minister, the one I was going to be serving with. See about being a junior youth minister when I come back in the fall, maybe sooner. I could promise him, like Abby said. I only have one more year of high school anyway. And it wouldn’t be changing who I am so much as it would just be . . . waiting.
Sometimes I imagine what life will be like on the other side and all the shapes my life could take, but mostly I’m scared to even think about it. Because if I do, all the possible futures start to shift like a kaleidoscope, each one falling into place, forming a single dream. I want to marry a sweet girl who I’m in love with. And I want us to have kids; I don’t even know how many. Two? Three? Seven plus a menagerie of pets? I don’t even know how the baby- having part would work exactly, but who cares as long as they’re ours? And she and I will walk down the street holding hands and we’ll sit together in church on Sundays, each holding up one half of the same hymnal.
That’s about where the future starts to fall apart. Because I already know I’ll never be able to have all those things at the same time.
I realize I’m still staring at the stairs, so I go outside, because I don’t want to seem like I’m creeping around Scarlett’s kitchen waiting for her. Skyler is dancing circles around a woman I recognize as my aunt Seema, and her daughter, Ellie. I remember playing with her brother, Zakir, when I was little. I haven’t seen them since Mom married Jay and moved to Tennessee. We stopped seeing all the aunts after that.
I walk up to the group of them, everyone talking at once. I say hi to Ellie, who is impossibly gorgeous and who gives me a hesitant side- hug like she isn’t sure what else to do.
Seema beams at me. “Amelia Grace, love, you look beautiful.”
I smile and allow myself to be scrunched into a hug. I remember that about her from when I was little—she gives the best hugs.
A tan SUV pulls up next to us. There’s not exactly a driveway, more just a dirt road that makes a circle in front of the house. A tall, Latinx woman with golden brown skin and glossy hair gets out. She has a piercing through one eyebrow and a flower tucked behind one ear. Definitely Val.
“I’m here, and I have everything we need!” she hollers. She pulls out a cardboard box from the passenger seat. “My ‘fasten seatbelt’ alarm has been going off since the liquor store. You know it’s a good day when you have enough alcohol in your seat that your car thinks it’s a person.”
She sets down the box so she can give Seema a hug. It’s like watching family members get reunited at the airport.
“How are you, Seema?”
“Good.” Seema smiles slyly. “I’m good. Because I have everything we need.”
“Wh—? Excuse me? I have wine, whiskey, bourbon, and tequila. I’m not sure there’s anything else a person could need.”
Seema swings a wrinkled brown paper bag. If she has weed in there, just, I don’t know, shoot me dead. I am so not prepared for this.
“Every kind of Cadbury you can imagine from when I visited my mother in Canada.”
Val clutches her heart. “You brought Cadbury? Did you bring—”
“Coconut cashew? Yes, five bars of it, one of which I instructed Ellie to write your name on in Sharpie.”
“God bless you.”
I used to think Cadbury was just those eggs you get at Easter, but it turns out Canada has a whole new level of chocolate going on. I remember I would totally freak out every time a care package from Aunt Seema came in the mail.
“Is that whole bag really filled with chocolate?” I ask.
Seema smiles. “About three kilograms.”
“I love it when you talk metric to me,” says Val, and Seema cackles.
And then it’s like they both remember why they’re here at exactly the same time.
“I am going to kill Jimmy Gable,” says Aunt Val.
“You’ll have to arm wrestle me for it, jaan, because I’m going to kill him first.”
I stare up at the blue house with the white wraparound porch, where my mom is no doubt holding my aunt Adeline like she’s trying to put her back together. Scarlett stands in the second window from the left, looking down at the lawn. The way the light hits her makes her look like a ghost. She’s never even talked about liking a girl, so I know she’ll probably never feel the same way, but the things I’m feeling, they’re so big, it doesn’t even matter. I look at her, and I feel lucky just to feel this way.
The great truth finally takes shape inside my head: If I was ever thinking about doing what they want, of going back to the way I was before and locking away the part of me that likes girls and hiding the key until college—seeing her makes me realize that is no longer an option.
* * *
And here’s more from Rachael!
In addition to giving away ARC’s of THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBILITIES, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway where each of the girls in the book gives away her favorite YA book, and next up is an Amelia Grace giveaway and exclusive excerpt with LGBTQ Reads!
About Amelia Grace
Amelia Grace (Nickname: Ames)
Loves: interior design, kindness, being a junior youth minister, friends that feel like family
Favorite YA book: HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON by Julian Winters
Why: Remy is earnest and kind, and he’s confused about how to define himself because he’s a lot of different things – adopted, black, gay, a brother, a best friend. For Amelia Grace, being inside Remy’s head feels like talking to an old friend. It feels like everything. Especially because it’s really rare to find a book that talks about being LGBTQ+ and about religion. Also, Julian Winters is the absolute best at turning high school stereotypes upside down and he’s funny as hell. Like, catch-you-off-guard sly and witty. Please go read this book immediately.
Giveaway includes (open internationally!):
1 signed ARC of The Summer of Impossibilities
1 signed copy of HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON by Julian Winters
Giveaway note: As a rule, LGBTQ Reads doesn’t host giveaways because they are kind of a lot to deal with. Please note that this giveaway is 100% my (Rachael’s) responsibility, and if you have any questions or concerns, please take them up with me and not LGBTQ Reads. Thanks for being awesome!
* * *
Rachael Allen is a scientist by day and kidlit author by night. She is the winner of the 2019 Georgia Young Adult Author of the Year award, and her books include 17 First Kisses, The Revenge Playbook, and A Taxonomy of Love, which was a Junior Library Guild selection and a 2018 Books All Young Georgians Should Read. Her next novel, The Summer of Impossibilities, is out May 12, 2020 (Abrams/Amulet). Rachael lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two children, and two dire wolves.
Rachael’s books have been published internationally in German, Spanish, French, and Polish. She is represented by Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary.
Visit Rachael on Twitter: @rachael_allen and Instagram: @rachael.stewartallen