I had so much fun with this book. I really enjoyed returning to YA. Just a reminder, this book is, YA--not NA. Ryder and Virginia's story was a joy to write. It was beautiful and sad and uplifting and happy at the same time.
Since we're so close to release, I thought I would share the first chapter with you guys today. And don't forget to preorder your copy from Amazon. It really does help and it's only 2.99!
When “crazy” runs in your family and your namesake is known for walking into a river with a pocket full of rocks, a girl kind of wants to avoid tempting fate at all costs. For Virginia Nichols, the only way to dodge that bullet is to be perfect at everything: school, student council, life. Too bad it’s all a lie, and underneath the perfection...Virginia is lost.
Ryder Blackstock knows a thing or two about being born into fate. The talents passed down from his father aren't exactly normal; instead of learning how to throw a fastball, he was taught to hot-wire a car like a pro and pick any pocket in sight. He’s got criminal blood, just like his old man. And as soon as he turns eighteen, he’ll be living life on the run with his dad.
When Ryder and Virginia meet on the beach, it seems they couldn't be more different. Soon they discover they’re both trapped in their lives—Virginia denying her fate, Ryder embracing his. Like the rocks in Virginia Woolf’s pockets, the weight of their destinies will pull them under. But being together brings out pieces of themselves they didn't know existed—pieces that make them want to take fate into their own hands and rewrite their destinies...if it’s not too late.
"Whenever I read Nyrae Dawn, I am reminded that words are her art, and she wields her paintbrush with all the skill of Rembrandt. The tender romance of Ryder and Virginia is palpable on the page, and the story sings with all the complexities of the interwoven plot. I read late into the night to finish this one, and once again, Nyrae has managed a masterpiece. LOVED." ~ USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author Courtney Cole
"The Weight of Destiny unfolds like a storm. It is dark and electric and incredibly romantic. I lost and found myself. The characters are so vivid, so alive, you'll forget anything but them exists." ~ David James author of Between the Stars and Sky
"The Weight of Destiny is YA at its absolute finest. Nyrae Dawn flawlessly brought two seemingly broken characters to life and showed everyone deserves a second chance at love and life. This breathtaking storytelling will blow you away." ~ USA Today Bestselling Author Tiffany King
"The Weight of Destiny is art at its best, Ryder and Virginia canvasses on which the good and bad of life and love unfold in brilliant, true color." ~ Author Jamie Manning
There once was a girl named Perfect with hair made of honey and a life made of dreams. No one knew it was all a lie. Perfect wasn’t perfect. Her life wasn’t either, but as long as everyone believed, she made herself think she could too.
Ernest Hemingway suffered from depression. He ended his own life by shooting himself.
Sylvia Plath was severely depressed as well. She stuck her head in the oven and poisoned herself with carbon monoxide.
Annette Klinger committed suicide, too. Most people don’t know who she is, but she was also a writer. She was my grandmother. When Mom was thirteen, Annette left her. Three years later, Mom found out Annette hung herself a year and a half after leaving.
Mom’s a writer too.
When I was five, Mom told me Virginia Woolf was one of her favorite authors. She couldn’t wait until I was old enough to read about Mrs. Dalloway.
I thought it was so cool that she named me after Virginia Woolf. Mom was this bright light: fun and exciting. Sometimes, it was as though she was a kid just like me. I couldn’t believe she named me after someone who was her favorite. It made me feel fun and exciting like her.
When I went to bed that night, she tucked me in, pushed my hair out of my face, and then asked if I wanted to know more about Virginia Woolf. Before I could reply, she told me Virginia was sad. She’d been so sad that one day she stuffed her pockets full of rocks to weigh herself down and stepped into a river.
It wasn't the kind of bedtime story I'd been looking for.
That’s when I knew, as alive as Mom was, she was different as well. It’s when I first started to fear I would grow up to be different like her.
No, Mom wasn’t typically depressed as so many of those greats were, but she’s always had her own demons.
When I got older, I made a conscious decision not to let that happen to me.
That brings me to today as I watch Mom’s arms flail while she excitedly screams at my principal so sharply it makes my head ring. All I can think is that I have a writer mom who’s never been stable. A mom who is wild, and reckless, and has other people who live inside her head. How she had a writer mom who was also wild and reckless. And how Mom chose to name me after an author who drowned herself.
Is it just me or does that seem a little like tempting fate?
No, not me. I will not be like this.
“Mrs. Nichols, I’m going to need you to lower your voice,” Principal Toms tells her.
“Ms. It’s Ms. My husband and I are separated, and I’m not yelling. Am I yelling? I just have this really great idea and I want Virginia to help me with it.”
My face burns as whispers start behind me and people from my school witness Freak Out 101, Charity Nichols style—the Charity Nichols, because everyone knows who she is. New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and all.
I’ve done so well keeping the wild part of my life a secret. It’s not like Mom is this way all the time. She hasn’t been like this in years. But then it hits me…what if she’s not my mom right now?
No. They fixed that. She’s better. She has to be.
“It’s fine. I can go.” I step forward, willing to do anything to get out of here. To get her out of here before more people show up. Oh God, what will they think? Quickly, I scan the crowd to see if my best friends Jamie and Hailey are around.
“Lulu, you can’t go. You’re not allowed to check out unless your dad approves it,” Mr. Toms says.
Obviously, there’s a reason for that.
“But I’m her mom.” She flits around, unable to stay still. I exhale a deep breath. She said she’s my mom. That means she’s still her.
It shocks me that she didn’t freak when he called me Lulu. She sometimes does when she’s like this, even though she’s the only one who doesn’t call me by my middle name.
“I’m her MOM!” she says again, each word getting louder.
Mom pushes her light brown hair out of her face. It’s the same color as mine. We look almost exactly alike. More like sisters, most people say. Her mom looked like us too, and for the millionth time, I wonder if Grandma had different people living inside her. Maybe Sylvia, Ernest, or Virginia Woolf did as well.
“Ms. Nichols, it’s the rules. I’m sorry—”
“Mom,” I cut the principal off. She turns to me, more people filling in around us. Of course she had to come between classes. Jamie’s here now, which means Hailey must be close. My feet itch to carry me away so badly; I want to run so I don’t have to deal with this. She hasn’t had an outburst in so long. Why is she having one now?
“Virginia, I’m so excited. I got this great idea. I was thinking we could go on a road trip. I want to paint the ocean. I want to write a story about the ocean, and you know how important it is for me to experience what I’m working on. Not around here, though. I’m thinking Oregon. We can stop by your house and grab a bag. It’ll be a blast, don’t you think?”
She sounds younger than me, giddy excitement bouncing around inside her. It’s like she can’t control her body. Everything’s magnified. A million-watt smile, a loud, excited voice, her body a jittery mess.
It reminds me of how she used to be at times. It wasn’t until later that I found out why.
Oh God, don’t let this ever be me. I don’t want this to be me.
“Lulu?” Hailey’s voice sounds from beside me, confused.
I shake my head at her, pleading with my eyes for her to step back. For her and everyone else to somehow unsee what’s going on.
“I have a huge test tomorrow, Mom. I…I can’t. What about this weekend? Then Dad can arrange it so I don’t have to come to school next week. We’ll have more time that way.”
The whispers get louder. Mom moves around like a druggie too high to keep still.
“Charity, she can’t go today. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll plan the trip.” It’s Dad’s voice behind me, and I realize someone from school must have called him.
Immediately, I exhale a sigh of relief. Dad’s here. Even though they’ve been separated for years now, Dad can handle her. He makes her better.
“Dave! You’re here! Finally. I want to take Virginia to Oregon. Do you want to go with us? It can be like old times. We can get a tent and camp right there by the water.”
“Lulu can’t today. She has a test. Why don’t we go outside and pick another day?” Dad gives me a sad smile as he wraps an arm around Mom’s shoulders, leading her out of the school's commons area.
My heart is going wild, probably like Mom’s is doing, except it’s not because I’m excited. You can handle this. You’re Lulu Nichols. You always have things under control.
Taking a deep breath, I look at Hailey and Jamie, then smile. “You guys ready to go to class?”
“Umm… Lu?” Jamie pushes one of her braids behind her ear. She has a million of them in her hair. She always does. I wish I could get away with that, but it wouldn’t look as good on me as it does against her dark skin.
“Alright everyone, get to class. Teachers will be giving detention to anyone who is late.” Thank you, I want to tell Mr. Toms as he tries to disperse the crowd.
“We better go. We’re going to be late.” I’ve never had detention in my life and I definitely don’t plan to start now.
Hailey grabs my arm. She has the blondest hair in the world. Sometimes we call her Halo. “Lulu… your mom…” It’s not like they’ve never met Mom before, but they’ve never seen the truth. They only know the persona I try to create.
And I’m so totally not doing this. Not now, not ever. I worked hard for my reputation, and I don’t plan on letting it go down the drain. “Fine. If you guys want to be late, go for it. I’m not screwing up my perfect attendance for nothing.”
Pulling out of Hailey’s grasp, I walk away. I manage to avoid them the rest of the day. It’s not so easy after school. We have a Future Business Leaders of America meeting. I usually love FBLA, but today, I can’t focus. For the first time ever, I fake a stomach ache and cut out early.
Dad’s called my cell a million times. For hours, I drive around, until it hits me what I’m doing. I’d give just about anything not to go home right now, but that’s not how I work.
Logic. I go through life based on logic, and putting things off doesn’t change anything.
After turning my Prius around, I drive home, determined to work with Dad on coming up with a plan so nothing like this happens again.