Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Krista BarrettThe Unraveling of James HaywardJodi HerlickYAContemporary81000

Be quiet. Be invisible. Don’t change anything. That’s how sixteen-year-old James Hayward has survived. His OCD is all-consuming, he shies away physical touch, his father is heartlessly strict, and the school bully is ruthless. 

But he’s been able to suppress all of that…until he falls head-over-heels in like with new student Charlotte. She sparks an unraveling of his quiet, wallflower ways and low-expectation attitude, leading him to want something he’s never wanted before—romantic love. But he doesn’t know how to fight through his OCD obstacles, and when the bully decides he wants Charlotte for himself, James must figure out how to fight him as well.

When his best friend ends up in the hospital, and he discovers a secret about his father, James’s very identity is called into question and he hits an emotional overload. He’s faced with a choice: he can let his obsessive traits command how he lives and stay in the bubble he’s created, or he can break his habitual patterns and take a chance. Not the easiest thing for a guy who likes to do things the same way every single day. But he wants change. And he wants the girl.

THE UNRAVELING OF JAMES HAYWARD is a young adult contemporary novel complete at 81,000 words that touches on mental health and first love themes. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed Now is Everything or The Perks of Being a Wallflower and anyone who feels like they just don’t fit in. 

I’m a happily married stay-at-home-mom with three teenage kids, and have personal experience with OCD, ADD, and depression. My sweet spot for writing is YA Contemporary, and I love tackling big issues. I have two other completed young adult manuscripts. My other passion is creating sea glass and silver jewelry. I hail from beautiful BC, Canada.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Krista Barrett

THE UNRAVELING OF JAMES HAYWARD

I hated not being able to silence myself.

There had always been something wrong with me. Something that clawed and scratched at my insides until they bled with anxiety and obsession and compulsiveness and longing. And my brain talked at me. All. Day. Long.

It was the first day of eleventh grade, and I was doing my best to not obsess over what might happen this year. It was hard to hold onto my runaway thoughts. After all, if history proved anything, it was that high school sucked.

Perched on my Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road bike, I counted to four, four times fast, and changed my gears four times before I sped off for my best friend Lewis’s house. It took ten minutes to ride away from our pretentious neighborhood, one that most of the students at my school couldn’t afford. I lived in Alder, Washington, aptly named after the Alder tree which grew in high numbers like a natural force field around our sleepy little town. But they didn’t block out the stupidity of the bullies who tormented me and Lewis on a daily basis. But this was a new year. Maybe, if we were lucky, the bullying would be a thing of the past. Maybe they’d matured just enough to finally leave us alone.

At Lewis’s house, I leaned my bike against their rickety wooden fence. Its white paint was peeling, and the front lawn grass was up to my shins. To say their house hadn’t been kept up was an understatement. But that didn’t bother me at all. Shrink would say that it should, what with my OCD and all, but I could relate to its unkempt state.

I pulled a face mask out of my left pocket and put it on. It was one of those ones that dentists wore. My mother started buying them after I’d come home with a handkerchief tied around my face. Rather than allow me to continue looking like a bank robber, she kept me in a steady supply of masks. I always wore one at Lewis’s house.

I used the bottom of my shirt to cover the doorknob before turning it four times and walked in. They never locked their doors, which was terrifying to me. Lewis said once, “Why would we lock the doors? There’s nothing to steal in here, and if someone did steal stuff, I would say ‘thank you’.” The reason: his grandma was a total hoarder. But she was the loveliest little hoarder I’d ever met.

I used both hands (with the help of my shirt) to push open the front door as the piles of “stuff” on the other side resisted me.

“Lewis? I’m here!” 

The sunlight filtered through their front window, accentuating all the dust floating around the room. I watched the dust beams, dazed by their hypnotic swirl downwards. Or maybe upwards. Did anyone really know which way dust flew? I would no doubt obsess about that later.