Name: Valerie Bodden
Twitter Handle: @ValBodden
Title: DROWNING IN AIR
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 82,000
My Main Character’s Most Stressful Relationship is:
Calli wants to take care of her dying mom—of course she does, it’s her mom, after all, and what else would a future doctor do? But when caring for her mom steals time from critical schoolwork, putting Calli’s position as valedictorian in jeopardy, Calli is ashamed to find herself resenting her role as caretaker. And when her mom lets her dad—the man who once destroyed her—back into their lives, Calli can’t stand to see this strong woman suddenly playing damsel in distress. After all, she’s the one who taught Calli not to need anyone, ever.
The first time seventeen-year-old lifeguard Calli tries to save Noah, he’s poised to jump from a way-too-high roof into a way-too-far-away pool. When he jumps anyway, she walks away. She has enough problems of her own. Like caring for her dying mom while trying to cinch the valedictorian spot and win a swimming championship.
New in town, Noah knows he has to do something big to keep from earning a reputation as a loser—or the sick kid. He doesn’t need some lifeguard with a hero complex telling him “no” like she’s his mother. Not to mention he could outswim Calli any day. Besides, he’s invincible. Surviving the heart transplant that killed his twin brother proved that.
Hard as they try to stay away from each other, Noah and Calli are drawn together by a mutual love of the water. But as their personal lives spiral out of control, they push each other away. Overwhelmed by her new responsibilities, Calli turns to Adderall to keep her grades up. And Noah performs ever more daring feats to prove his survival wasn’t some cosmic mistake. With their lives closing in on a devastating end, these two lost souls have to figure out how to take the biggest risk of all—opening up—or risk losing each other—and themselves.
I bury my face in the sticky-sweet grass and tune out the shrieks and splashes coming from the pool on the other side of the yard. The sun sears my limbs, making them heavy and light, solid and liquid, at the same time. I never want to move again.
A sharp fingernail pokes my side.
I crack one eye open, even though I already know it’s my best friend Sashi. I swat her hand away, but she pokes me again.
“What?” I grumble.
“Check this guy out.”
I groan. Of course it’s about a guy. The faint bite of chlorine penetrates through the smell of burgers as I push myself onto an elbow.
“First you drag me to this party. And then, when I finally manage to relax, you...” My words evaporate as I follow her gaze over the pool to Tom Brant’s mansion, site of this annual end-of-summer soiree.
It takes a second for my brain to catch up with what I’m seeing.
Then I spring into full-on lifeguard mode, launching myself toward the pool deck. My feet sizzle when they hit the concrete, but I keep running.
Idiot. He’s going to kill himself.
A guy in a blue Superman t-shirt balances at the edge of the second-story porch roof, bouncing on his toes like he’s about to dive.
Around me, people chant, “Jump!”
I shove past them, dodging elbows. Why can’t I make my feet pump as fast as my heart? By the time I get there, he’ll be splattered on the concrete.