Seventeen-year-old Addy Arrowood should have died when her father’s store was robbed three years ago.
Instead, her dad shielded her, taking the fatal bullet himself. Addy still has PTSD from the shooting, but one day she comes home from school to find her dad alive and well—like it never happened. Altered family photos, missing keepsakes, and her newfound status as a popular YouTuber leave Addy struggling between two conflicting realities.
In her confusion, she fluctuates between fearing for her dad’s safety and suspecting he’s some kind of imposter. Or maybe it’s Addy who’s no longer who she thinks she is. Even her reflection taunts her in the mirror, moving of its own volition. Her search for answers leads to DreamMore, a mental health clinic renowned for its revolutionary techniques, but its glossy surface is a smokescreen, hiding unethical human experiments.
While investigating, Addy alternately connects and butts heads with the lead scientist’s mercurial daughter, Kezia. As Addy earns Kezia’s trust, they work together and uncover DreamMore’s plan for a mass experiment. To save their town from the mind-altering attack, Addy will have to come literally face-to-face with her dark side. And risk losing her dad—again.
Complete at 70,000 words, UNREALITY combines the sinister mystery of Suzanne Young’s GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS with the twisted realities of Ann Aguirre’s LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS. I am a member of the Tampa Writer’s Alliance and have completed several writing courses through Margie Lawson’s Writer’s Academy. My previous novel was selected in the 2018 Revpit contest and shortlisted for the 2019 WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award. Through the WriteMentor program, I have revised UNREALITY this summer under the mentorship of an experienced writer.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The fear was back.
It pulsed like fever behind the overworked eyes of the students shuffling by in a study-induced stupor. Exams had everyone worked up, turning Palma Ceia High into a powder keg of stress—as though there weren’t more dreadful things to worry about. More terrifying.
The air reeked of Eau de school—a mash of bleach and gym clothes and old french fries—and I winced against the harsh light and noisy clamor. Even here, or maybe especially here, I wasn’t safe.
Imagined dangers quickened my pace until my sandal slipped on a bright pink sheet of paper, and I took a good look around the hallway. Multitudes of identical flyers jeered from dented lockers and brick walls and lay strewn across the skid-marked floor; one even hung crookedly on my own locker. I marched over and tilted my head to read the company’s name.
I snatched the neon advertisement. The tremor in my hands made the words shiver and dance as I tried to read them, so I held tighter, my thumbnails puncturing the paper.
Anxious? Under pressure? Losing sleep?
Looks like you may have a case of yearly-exam stress syndrome!
DreamMore has your solution!
How would you like:
-decreased study time?
-a 35% increase in test scores?
Bring in this flyer for a special free sleep therapy session!
I crumpled the paper and tossed it blindly. The DreamMore clinic had opened just when I desperately needed their services, but I didn’t need any reminders. If only it had been due to “exam stress” instead of the darkest event of my life.
“Hey, Adilicious!” piped a voice at my shoulder.
I spun and found my best friend. “Bree!”
She tossed her wheat-blonde hair as Luis Padilla, the quarterback, strutted by. He didn’t notice. Sheesh. Were all small-town boys this clueless, or did we just get a bad batch?
Bree leaned close, grinning. “Whatcha doing?”
“Just getting my books.” I wetted my lips and busied myself in my locker.
My best-friendship with Bree Cressworth had begun in first grade when I brought my stepmom to school for Mommy’s Macaroni lunch. Chuck Wiley had said Sharon wasn’t my real mom because my real mom was a wormy, moldy ghost and Sharon was alive and plainly a non-ghost. I cried, and Bree, brandishing a spork, told Chuck to shut it or else he’d be a wormy, moldy ghost.
“You think this actually works?” Bree waved another, un-crumpled, flyer. “I know they’re good, but can they really make someone smarter? I mean, considering some of the material they’d have to work with…”
I unintentionally slammed my locker, and jumped.
Bree frowned. “Are you okay?”
I opened my mouth, not knowing what I would say. Bree knew as well as I did what Dr. Fischer could do. Even if she’d been treated for entirely different reasons. Before I could respond, voices rose a few lockers down, their aggressive tones chewing moth holes through my threadbare nerves.