Author: Leah Scheier
Pubdate: September 1st, 2015
Tradepaper/$9.99 ● Ages 14+
“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”
April won't let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend—her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters—and the ones in his head?
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I KNOW MY WAY AROUND THE MENTAL HOSPITAL. I doubt most of the girls in my neighborhood could claim that, even though many of us lived just a few minutes from its leafy, sterile grounds, and some of us picnicked on the lawn outside its gate during summer break.
By the end of tenth grade, I knew Shady Grove Hospital better than I knew my school. I knew that the security guard’s name was Carla and that she’d worked at her depressing post since the place was built. I knew the quiet path behind the topiary garden where I could wait until visiting hours began and she let me in. I’d memorized the shape and color of his shadow behind the dark-red curtains, and I knew where I had to stand so he could see me from his eleventh-story window. From that distant spot, I could even guess how well the medicine was working for him that day; I could tell what kind of visit it would be by counting the paces of his shadow.
I had the place mapped out, his daily routine memorized, the doctors’ names and call schedule, every pointless detail carefully recorded in his special little book. He’d given me those notes as if they were classified secrets, the papers wrapped in strips of hospital linen sealed together with bubble gum, long wads of partially chewed Wrigley’s tied into a crisscrossed mesh. That tat- tered spiral notebook was crammed with data he’d gathered over months: patients’ names and histories, nurses’ phone numbers, the cleaning crew’s shift hours. I would never know how these bits of information came together for him or how he even found them out. But somewhere in these random nothings, he’d put together a story for me, a clue of how to get to him, a coded message that, for some reason, he believed only I could read. I was the one he trusted, the only one who had not betrayed him. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key.
And now, nearly three months after they’d taken him away, I was finally ready. I was going to march up to the security window, look into the tired guard’s blurry eyes, state my name and the name of the patient I was visiting, and hear the buzz and click of the locked gate sliding open. I was going to walk down the white- tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk, and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.
I was finally going to do it. I was going to betray him.
About the Author
Leah Scheier works as a pediatrician and pens stories of romance and adventure. Her first novel, Secret Letters, was published in June 2012 (Hyperion/Disney) and received a starred review from School Library Journal, as well as glowing reviews from Booklist, VOYA, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Maryland. Learn more at leahscheier.com.