Lee Van Brakle – YA Contemporary – GLIMPSES OF ME

Dear Agent,

Asmah Richards, a seventeen-year-old African-American Muslim, is every parent’s dream; recently-elected Senior Class President and on track to be valedictorian. She wants to be a lawyer like her father; the perfect career path for the perfect student. Then, the summer before her senior year, Asmah meets Mr. Rhodes, a handsome young teacher who offers her the attention she didn’t know she wanted.

As a Muslim, she’s not allowed to date. Although Asmah’s infatuated with Mr. Rhodes and meets with him in secret, she can’t bring herself to take the final step and go all the way with him. Fear and guilt force her to sever all connections.

A year later, Mr. Rhodes is arrested due to allegations of a sexual relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl; a fellow classmate. Asmah is devastated. If she comes forward, her family’s reputation — and her own– in the Muslim community will be destroyed. Her parents would probably abandon her. If she says nothing, the predatory teacher could go free.

Asmah must decide which is worse: the deep shame of speaking out or the overwhelming guilt of staying silent.

GLIMPSES OF ME, a young adult contemporary, #ownvoices novel, is complete at 81,000 words. It fills a gap for Muslim voices in YA fiction while addressing the grooming process in a cautionary way. This novel can be described as Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott (2015) meets Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali (2017).

As a debut author and Muslim woman of color, I write the type of stories I needed as a teenager; the type of stories I hope will inspire my three daughters. I have been an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2012 and participate in many local writing classes, workshops and a monthly writing group.

I wanted to share that in March of 2018 I won a DVPit critique from Jennifer Ung, an Editor at Simon Pulse (division of S&S). She really liked the sample pages and asked me, once agented, to have my agent submit this manuscript to her.

As per your guidelines, I have included the materials you requested. I hope to have the opportunity to share more of my work with you.

Sincerely,

@LVanBrakle

 

GLIMPSES OF ME

I dreamt of a life that didn’t include my self-centered, narcissistic older sister.

“Asmah, you have exactly five minutes then I’m leaving without you.” Khadijah yelled from downstairs.  “I assumed nerds like you didn’t care about their appearance.”

One last glance at my reflection then I’d be ready. My dark washed Levis matched with a light grey tissue tee that hung almost to my mid-thigh. I wore my favorite hijab; large, rectangular cotton one large enough to wrap around my head twice.

I grabbed my back pack and bolted from my bedroom, my lavender sanctuary.

“Are you finally ready?” Khadijah stood, six years older than me, with her hands planted on her hips.

“If you didn’t take forever in the bathroom, I wouldn’t be late to my last day of classes.” After finals next week, I’d finally be a high school senior.

“Now it’s my fault?” she screeched.

“Look, I didn’t ask you to take me to school, Ma did.” I grabbed my navy blue Vans from the mat by the door and slipped them on.

“Both you and Ma need to understand, if Khalif proposes then my days of chauffeuring you around are numbered. Ma and I are invited to lunch today with him and his mom. So today could be the day. I don’t have time for this.”

Her life would be defined by marriage; one pushed by our mother. I rolled my eyes as I slammed her car door. She glared out the window as she drove with Vivaldi playing in the background; the classical music, her potential mother-in-law’s favorite.

Khalif, her wealthy suitor, had become her only topic of conversation. He hadn’t even popped the question yet she acted like the wedding was tomorrow. The price you paid for being beautiful.

Mom rejoiced in her oldest daughter’s beauty. Khadijah’s dark brown hair cascaded past her shoulders. I would kill for her blemish-free skin and slender figure. Mom bragged to all the women at the mosque that Khadijah had graduated culinary school and now could prepare lavish feasts for her future husband and his family. She was on cloud nine that her eldest daughter had caught the eye of a rich attorney from a prominent Muslim family. If the courtship succeeded, Khadijah would want for nothing for the rest of her life.

But I wanted a different life; a career in the law like my dad.

To Mom, that didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that I was kind of cute, a size six and in the running for next year’s valedictorian. I resisted my mom’s suggestions to think about what qualities were important for me in a husband. And once my sister married, I became the next target.

I could never compete with Khadijah, the Perfect, so I gave up and focused on school to fulfill my dreams not my mother’s delusions.

 

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