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The following titles are my coming of age stories for anyone who loves literature surrounding the teenage years. I often tackle social issues or take criminal cases from my husband’s work and then (usually) give my characters a better ending than I often see in real life.
The awful wonderful Story of Us
Act strong. Feel strong. Be strong.
Are the words that London chants to herself to get through the day. She lives in a house where rules are inforced with fists, and drugs change hands in a near steady flow.
Cole uses his carefully placed camouflage of studious athlete to cover up a past he wishes he could erase, constantly counting down to keep himself in check. At school he pretends. At home, he hides.
The two have a friendship based on an unspoken knowledge of past and present secrets. But when London’s dad sends her to the hospital, and Cole’s stepmom has the backstory, Cole steals the chance to help a friend.
Running away together feels like the perfect plan to keep London safe, but with Cole’s stepmother working on an investigation against London’s father, the two are being attacked from all sides.
Soon, it might not be a matter of fighting to stay together, but fighting to stay alive.
Hard to Love
Honor is finally setting out on her own—away from her mother and away from the modeling career she isn’t sure she wants. What she doesn’t plan for is her new roommate.
Libby is honest and fearless and adorable. She’s the girl on campus that everyone knows. The life of every party. But standing under this shadow isn’t always easy—especially when Libby doesn’t approve of the artist that Honor begins dating.
But with their new friend, Toby, Libby’s attention is finally divided, rather than focused on what Honor should, or shouldn’t, be doing with her freshman year. Toby finds himself falling for Libby as things heat up between Honor and her artist, but when Libby’s unpredictability turns dangerous, Toby and Honor realize there might be a lot more going on with everyone’s favorite party girl.
Facing an illness no one can predict, the three are torn between keeping their friendships, finding their independence, and falling in love.
The Summer I Found You
Perry, co-author of Out of Play (Entangled, 2013) and the creator of several self-published romances, presents a story told through alternating perspectives about moving through loss and finding unexpected sources of support. While Kate has plans to attend college next year with her best friend Jen, Kate’s senior year is off to a rocky start. Her boyfriend dumps her for a junior, she was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and her overprotective parents are overwhelming her. When Jen introduces Kate to her 19-year-old cousin Aidan, who returned from Afghanistan missing an arm and feeling displaced within his own family, there’s an immediate and believable attraction and connection; they both know what it feels like to be weakened and pitied. Kate and Aidan’s relationship provides them with the opportunity to be honest with each other and themselves about their respective challenges, as well as an antidote to their emotional pain. Perry candidly describes their conflicted feelings, the loneliness of having a perceived disability, and the power of mutual encouragement. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)
Stronger Than You Know
“Perry deftly avoids the problem-novel label thanks to complex characters and a well-structured plot. Joy’s story is very affecting, and her voice is suitably self-effacing without being ostentatious; most readers will be engrossed.” —Kirkus Reviews
“While the subject matter is tough, this realistic title will draw teens in with its believable characters, including the well-written portrayal of the adult protagonists.” —School Library Journal
“Perry’s descriptions of Joy’s intense turmoil are vivid . . . A moving survival story.” —Booklist
To read more about STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW, including the real life story Joy’s life was based on, CLICK HERE.
** This book has been used in multiple juvenile detention centers, and continues to remain on library lists for books that deal with abuse, anxiety, and depression.
My Heart for Yours
For Tobin and Delia, everything was always equal.
A bargain, a trade, a deal to be struck.
A kiss for a kiss.
Your shirt for mine.
Break my heart, I’ll break yours.
Their disastrous split was no different. Tobin’s spent the last year pretending Delia never existed, and Delia’s been in D.C., pretending to be anything but the country girl that she is.
When tragedy brings her back to town, Tobin and Delia realize that time apart hasn’t healed either one of them. But staying away from each other is harder than they imagined, especially in small town Louisiana, and old feelings are quickly brought back to the surface.
In the mess they’ve created, is there anything to be salvaged of a love that they both thought would be forever?
A broken heart. A best friend. A first love.
Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He’s her soul mate. He’s more uptight every day, but it’s not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she’s adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he’ll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.
Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He’s the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she’s playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.
Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.
*This novel has a bonus FULL NOVELLA at the end, which was inspired by a reader request
Love Blind with Christa Desir
Shy high schooler Kyle Jamieson and Hailey Bosler, a musician with degenerative blindness, team up to tackle a bucket list of greatest fears in this compelling novel that explores what it means to take risks.
“In chapters alternating between their POVs, both step outside their comfort zones, taking chances, fumbling in lust, and becoming friends in the process. But will they ever take the ultimate risk, letting their friendship turn into something more?” – Jennifer Barnes Booklist
“Hailey is confident, stubborn, and funny and isn’t afraid to show her sassy side. Meanwhile, Kyle is shy and awkward. The authors combine perfect pacing with spot-on character development that will leave readers empathizing with the characters from the very beginning. The plot takes several unexpected turns; it hits hard, exploring issues such as depression, loss of virginity, and homosexuality. VERDICT For fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey (Delacorte) and Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places (Knopf, both 2015)” – Erin Holt SLJ
To learn more about LOVE BLIND, including pictures and inspiration, CLICK HERE.
What A Kiss Is
Antony loves his life in New York. He loves living with his mother and wearing designer clothes. He loves his private tutors for home school. It’s practically necessary since his mom travels the world as a reporter.
When an assignment overseas gives her the opportunity of a lifetime, she sees it as a chance for Antony to get to know his dad – a guy strange enough to live on a boat. Near dreary Seattle. Antony’s sure that the next few months will feel like a lifetime. He and his dad can’t even fill up a five minute conversation on his birthday call.
When he meets Amber, the girl from five boats down, his prospects perk up, but when it becomes very clear, very fast, that all she’s after is friendship, Antony wonders if he’ll survive the next three months.
He is absolutely. Completely. Totally. Displaced.
And then tragedy hits.
What A Kiss Is, is a novel about love, loss, and figuring out what’s actually important.
Has to be Love
“This book breathlessly captures that adolescent moment of being torn between an old life and the possibility of the new as well as romance and the dangers and exhilarations of physical contact. There is a persistent thread of Mormon faith throughout the book, but Perry integrates it with a light touch that reads as integral to the characterizations rather than an attempt at evangelizing. The characters are well developed and engaging, occasionally falling into familiar tropes (the forbidden older lover being one), but are well drawn and likable enough to overcome that. While the Alaskan setting is true to life, even that pales compared to the authentic, dynamically portrayed interior setting: a senior year in high school and all the transitions that entails. What at first glance appears to be a romance novel featuring a stock girl character with two love interests is revealed to be much more mutilayered coming-of-age tale about finding one’s own way in the world.” – Elizabeth Nicolai for SLJ
To read more about HAS TO BE LOVE, click HERE.
**HAS TO BE LOVE was a Whitney Award finalist in 2015
All the Forever Things
Every day is a funeral (because Gabe’s family runs a funeral home). Every day Gabe gets her life saved by Bree, and vice-versa (because that’s how it is with best friends). And that’s how it’s always been. Until now…
Nothing is forever. Gabe knows that more than most girls. After all, she lives in a funeral home (it’s the family business), and she gets that everything in the world dies eventually–people, rumors, fashion trends, the nickname “Graveyard Gabe.” But her best friend, Bree, has been a constant in her life; it’s always been the two of them together. Until Bree starts seeing a guy who stands for everything Gabe thought they were against.
Gabe doesn’t know who her friend is anymore. And the only person who seems to have time for her is Hartman, the new guy, who is somehow not weirded out by the funeral home stuff (well, maybe a little). Still, Gabe doesn’t want to lose her mind over a guy the way Bree has, so she holds back.
But a very strange prom night (in the family hearse) will change what Gabe knows about friendship, love, life, and everything that comes after–forever and otherwise.
**ALL THE FOREVER THINGS was a Whitney Award finalist in 2017
Out of Play
Rock star drummer Bishop Riley just needs a few months to relax and detox before his band’s next tour. But the last place he expected to do it is in Seldon, Alaska. And the last person he wants to do it with is Penny Jones.
Fiery, headstrong Penny has zero in common with the cocky, too-hot-for-his-own-good Bishop, and she’d like to keep it that way. But the more Bishop gets under her skin, the more she wants to let him in. And the more Penny lets him see, the more Bishop wants to know this stubborn girl with the killer body and soulful eyes.
The simmering heat between them won’t go away, no matter how hard either of them tries. Their time together in Alaska may be running out—but so is their resolve for not taking a chance on love.
For more about OUT OF PLAY, CLICK HERE.