Haleigh Wenger – YA Contemporary Romance – WHEREVER THE TIDE TAKES US
Dear AWESOME AGENT:
Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan—her Opa. This summer, Claire’s and Opa’s goal is to discover her niche as an artist in what they dub the Summer of Art, but when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.
When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.
When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, he’s forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through Foster’s long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, then she could permanently lose Foster and the art they make together.
WHEREVER THE TIDE TAKES US, a YA contemporary romance complete at 75,000 words, will appeal to fans of Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything and Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty.
I am a stay-at-home mom to four little boys. When I am not reading or writing, you can find me baking and exploring Texas with my family.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Whoever decided open casket funerals should be a thing has to be the worst kind of masochist. It’s been over for almost an hour, but my hands still shake every time the image of Opa’s body stutters through my mind. His features too serene, clothes too neatly pressed.
He looked less like himself than ever.
We pile out of our cars and trudge up the front steps of the beach house, the massive teal door an ominous gateway to the inside of Opa’s home. A place he loved to entertain us each summer.
A place he’ll never be again.
“This sucks.” My voice trembles in perfect cadence with the rest of me.
My parents pull me into a sandwich-style hug. I shiver and wedge myself between them. As Mom runs her French manicured nails down my back, I extend a hand toward my sister, Livvy. She sighs, pockets her phone for a millisecond, and reaches over to squeeze my palm.
“It does suck,” she says, echoing me in a rare show of solidarity.
Mom steps back, holding me at arm’s length. “Claire, we’re still going to have a great summer. It’s what he would have wanted.” Her matter-of-fact briskness grounds me a little. That, and the way she said “he”. Like “he” wasn’t a real person anymore, just some figment of our imagination that’d dissolved into the humid Florida air.
I pull my arms away and swallow, nodding along with her, agreeing to something my heart recognizes as a complete impossibility. He is supposed to be here, not in some graveyard in the next town over. This was going to be our Summer of Art. Opa said it’d be special.
He always made everything so special.
Dad murmurs his agreement, and then he turns to all of us before sliding the key into the deadbolt. Family traditions are Dad’s hill to die on, and swinging open the beach house door at the beginning of every summer is his favorite. Sort of like offering up the grand prize on a game show finale.
And I guess Mom’s right—we probably owe it to Opa to do summer vacation as usual. Whether we want to or not.
Dad hoists a bulging suitcase, flashing a pasted-on smile. “Who wants to help unpack the snacks? We got all the good stuff this year because I managed to go to the store without your mom. Claire?” He glances at me, in an obvious attempt at distraction.
“Maybe later? I’m going to look around.”
I slip past him into the living room, stopping in front of the bookcase to examine a collection of picture frames. Memories of happier summers here, with Opa—the two of us on the beach. All five of us eating at a plastic table on the back porch, Opa and Dad cheesing from beside the grill, dorky aprons on. Mom and her gaggle of sisters surrounding Opa as he blows out an unholy amount of candles on a cake.