Sarah Barkoff – YA Contemporary – THE WANDERERS

Dear AWESOME AGENT:

Everywhere eighteen-year-old Sosie Friedman goes in her hometown of Long Beach, New York, local news reporters turn up.  They’re chasing the inside scoop on her mother’s horrific car crash—one rumored to be a sensationalistic suicide resulting in the death of a five-year-old boy.  Her absentee father, classmates, and neighbors all whisper that her mentally ill mother purposely caused the tragedy, but Sosie insists it was an accident and vows to prove it.

Then, clues begin to emerge that suggest Sosie didn’t know her mother as well as she thought. A mysterious photograph of an apparent love interest, a gory video of the crash scene, and a chance meeting with a stranger in an abandoned house spur Sosie to pursue the leads to discover more about her mother’s hidden past. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and while battling her own descent into a pit of self-destruction, Sosie connects with a school acquaintance, a quiet but thoughtful loner, who introduces her to his small group of friends. Swept into their curious world, Sosie embarks on a road trip with them to escape Sandy’s destruction—and to find the man from her mother’s photograph who may hold clues to her death.

But things are not what they seem, and when Sosie wakes up in the aftermath of a car crash eerily reminiscent of her mother’s accident, her new friends are nowhere to be found. Now she must piece together evidence to explain her mother’s death, or risk becoming a statistic herself.

THE WANDERERS, a YA contemporary complete at 74,000 words, will appeal to readers of Kerry Kletter’s The First Time She Drowned and Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl In Pieces.

I hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School, and was thrilled to have my screenplay featured in their Annual Live Script Reading Event.  I also studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy of New York City. I have had several articles featured on the popular blog HelloGiggles, and host a mommy blog called Monk & Me.  I spent much of my childhood traveling throughout the United States while performing in various Broadway National tours, and I also starred in an embarrassingly bad horror flick at the tender age of seven.  Those experiences fueled my love of storytelling.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sarah Barkoff

 

FIRST PAGE

If I go to school two days a week out of five it’s a lot.

Today is one of those rare occasions. I slink down in the last seat at the back of AP English Lit, trying my best to be invisible. All I’ve wanted these last four months since the accident is to shrivel up and disappear.

Mr. Russo starts class with a discussion about how literature is going down the toilet because of so many novels being adapted into big budget films that rely too much on special effects. I stare out the foggy window, barely listening, and watching the steady flow of traffic in the distance until the sound of my name snaps me back to reality.

“Sosie?” Mr. Russo asks. “Sosie?” My head turns before my eyes make the trek over to where he stands at the front of class. He adjusts his black-framed glasses on the bridge of his nose while he waits for my attention. “We need a volunteer to read Tuesday’s assignment. Would you be so kind to share your work with us?”

“I actually don’t have my assignment,” I say, wrapping my chunky knit cardigan around me.

“Again?” Mr. Russo asks, his eyes narrowing above his glasses. I twist a strand of my stringy hair around my finger, and pull it across my mouth like a mustache. He sighs and scratches his temple. “Anyone else want to be our guinea pig today?” No one volunteers, so he sifts through a manila envelope until he finds what he’s looking for. “Here we are.” Mr. Russo walks down the aisle, single sheet of paper in hand, and stops two seats over from where I sit. “Nolan, can you read your poem for the class?”

My eyes, along with the rest of the class, fix on Nolan Sawyer, waiting. I don’t know much about him, other than the fact he moved here a couple of months ago and is maybe the only other person in this school as anti-social as me. He stares at the floor, his long, shaggy bangs falling into his eyes like well-positioned curtains, aiding his concealment.

He swallows hard, his Adam’s apple moving up and down, and then begins to read through a shaky voice. “I swim out to sea. I let the water carry me. I feel so small in this symphony of eclectic characters. The water hits my skin, it makes me feel alive, like I’m one with something bigger than right now, bigger than me, and bigger than life. But the water is cold. Autumn is here.”

He has a southern accent, thick and slow like a dense milkshake that has to be eaten with a spoon instead of sipped from a straw. My jaw drops. Who is this boy? The sound of his voice, the slow warmth of his words, makes me want to leap into the moment with him, and feel the water on my skin, too.

 

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