For those of you that had missed the first post, we have decided to do a book of the month and have a reviewer ARC Read A-Long here on the blog. The followers have voted and the book they chose is The Taking by Kim Derting. We have started to read the book and we all have loved it so far:
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.
Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.
Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
The moment you look away from the sky, a shooting star will appear.
We killed them.
Crushed, to be precise. Crushed to the point that the other team left the field in tears, like a bunch of five-year-olds, falling into a defeated huddle in their grass-stained blue-and-gold uniforms and offering one another the lame consolations of runners-up. They did their best to avoid making eye contact with us as they had to go down the line and slap our hands, congratulating us on our win on their way to their dugout. On our massive, season-ending victory.
We, on the other hand, had hoarse voices and couldn’t stop jumping up and down and grabbing everyone within arm’s reach and gripping them to our filthy, sweaty selves as we screamed into their ears, again and again, that we’d done it. We’d done it. We’d done it!
Cat caught me in her tough, wiry arms and squeezed me so hard she nearly crushed the breath out of me. “It was all you, baby! All you!” She didn’t bother keeping her voice down, and everyone heard her. I could feel the dampness that soaked her uniform all the way through.
My face blazed in the wake of her comment, and I giggled nervously. She never seemed to understand the whole “there’s no I in team” that coach was always drilling into us. As far as Cat was concerned, I was the team. “Shut up,” I insisted, shoving away from her.
“You saw him, didn’t you? The scout?”
I didn’t have to answer her or try to explain that I was sure he wasn’t there just for me, because we were caught up in another round of cheers and congratulations, and after a moment I forgot all about scouts and embarrassing best friends and focused solely on the fact that we’d just won the championship.
That was how Austin found me, still wearing my ear-to-ear grin as I nearly walked right past him on my way to the parking lot to meet my dad. It had taken almost half an hour to finally disentangle myself from my teammates, and another ten minutes for coach to stop congratulating us, and herself, and then us some more, before excusing us so we could get on the buses to meet up for the victory celebration. Of course, my dad had asked coach to make an exception. To let me ride with him instead of the rest of my teammates on the bus. He had things he wanted to discuss on our way to the pizza party.
Austin was propped against the fence, offering me one of his signature smiles. It was a smile I’d known almost my whole life, and in it I could picture our entire summer spreading out before us. Long days spent on the riverbank as we stretched our damp towels over sunbaked rocks. Climbing through his bedroom window after his parents left for work so we could sleep till afternoon in his cramped twin bed with its worn Batman sheets that he should’ve outgrown years ago but that he still hadn’t parted with. Late nights at the drive-in theater, staring up at the stars instead of watching whatever dollar
movie was playing on the giant screen as we talked about our future and all the things we would do together once we were free of our parents and high school.
And kissing. Lots and lots of kissing.
Austin pointed playfully at my chin. “You got a little something. . . .” Then he grinned as his finger flicked downward to indicate the rest of me.
My eyes followed as I smiled wryly. “Ya think?” I was practically wearing the softball field: grass, dirt, chalk.
He reached for me, his fingers twirling around the orange and black ribbons, our team colors, wound through my hair. “You sure you don’t wanna catch a ride with me? I promise I’ll take you straight to the Pizza Palace so you can celebrate.” He leaned close, his Tic Tac–fresh breath tickling my cheek, and I only briefly wondered if I smelled as ripe as Cat had; but I knew he didn’t care. He never cared.
Glancing past him, I saw my dad watching us from in front of his silver Prius, clutching a stack of shiny new brochures in his hands. He didn’t wave me over with them or anything, but I could see it in the way he looked at me—the hurry-up look. The I’ve-got-something-to-show-you look.
I closed my eyes before answering but gave the only response I could. I pressed my cheek against Austin’s, transferring some of my grime to him in the process. “How ’bout you meet me there?” I leaned against him meaningfully. “We can celebrate later.”
My dad is probably my number one fan. He could outshout any peppy cheerleader when we were winning and could outscream any ump when I got a bad call.
My dad was definitely a bigger fan than my mom, who often worked too late, like tonight, to make it to my games. Apparently, an escrow closing on a foreclosure was more important than your daughter’s championship game.
“He gave me some pamphlets,” my dad announced from the front seat.
Pouting might be immature, but every sixteen-year-old girl has mastered some form of it: the silent treatment; crocodile tears; eye rolling; the fake, nothing’s-wrong response. The list goes on and on.
For me it was sullenness. Not pretty, sure, but effective.
Sullen sometimes forced a sixteen-year-old to banish herself to the backseat like a little girl. It was worth the payoff, I decided as I avoided his eager gaze in the rearview mirror.
But my number one fan wasn’t about to give up that easily. “It’s a great school. Big Ten. He was talkin’ full ride.”
I crossed my arms. We’d had this discussion. More than once.
My dad stiffened, sensing, if a little late, that I was digging in my heels. Again. “You don’t have to stay in-state, Kyra. You have more options than anyone else on that team. Hell, probably more than anyone else in this town. A good pitcher is hard to come by. A great one is damn near impossible to find.” I knew what he was doing. My dad, who knew me far too well—better maybe than anyone else—was searching for the right thing to say, something that would coax me into seeing his side of things.
Gritting my teeth, I turned to stare out the window. It was dark outside, so there wasn’t much to look at, but it was better than catching my father’s hopeful glimpses staring back at me.
I heard him sigh, and then there was a silence—not long and not short either—and then he added, “I don’t know why the two of you think you have to go to college together.”
That was it. He’d definitely found my hot button. “It’s not your decision,” I snapped as if I hadn’t said this a hundred times before. “We’ve already decided where we’re going. I don’t know why you keep talking to these scouts. Stop encouraging them.”
“Oh for chrissake, Kyra. College doesn’t have to be a ‘we’ thing. It doesn’t have to be a joint decision. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you and Austin went to different schools for a few years.”
My fists clenched in my lap. “You and Mom went to Central Washington. It’s a good school. Why do you have such a problem with this?”
“Your mom and I didn’t go there together; we met there. And I don’t have a problem with the school. It’s just that you can do so much better.”
I met his eyes now, daring him to lie to me. “Are you talking about the school, or about Austin?”
He only held my gaze for a split second before turning back to watch the black ribbon of road that stretched out ahead of him. “Both, I suppose.” Before I could let the gravity of his words sink in, he tried to explain. His voice was softer now. “It’s not Austin. You know I like him. Hell, he’s practically family. It’s just that you’ve known him your entire life, Kyr. You’ve never had a chance to meet anyone else. To know any different.”
This was new, this argument against Austin and me. It was no longer about my education; he was talking about my future . . . my real future. The one Austin and I had been planning forever.
I blinked hard, not wanting him to know how betrayed I felt by the sting of his words. “Stop the car,” I stated, and hated the way my voice cracked when it finally cleared the barrier of my throat.
“Kyra . . .”
“I mean it. Stop the car!”
We were in the middle of nowhere, on Chuckanut Drive, still miles away from Burlington. My dad slowed but didn’t stop, his tires crunching on the gravel on the side of the road. “You’re not getting out. There’s nothing out here.”
“I’ll call Austin,” I insisted. “He’ll pick me up.”
The car was still moving, but only barely, as his words tumbled into the darkness, finding me in the backseat. “I just don’t want you to settle. I want you to experience the world. To go big.” It was one of my dad’s catchphrases: “Go big or go home.”
Only this time he was wrong. I didn’t want “big.” I didn’t want to live a catchphrase at all, none of them. I wanted to live my life.
And I wanted out.
Opening the car door was easy, and even though the Prius felt like it was moving in slow motion, the road I stared down at looked as if we were racing in the Grand Prix. I thought of what breaking my ankles might mean to my dad’s precious full-ride scholarships, and suddenly I didn’t care about scholarships or scouts or full rides.
“I said stop!” I yelled at my dad, and when I heard the screech of the Prius’s tires skidding to a complete stop, I leaped out of the car.
But I was running too fast, and I was crying now too. I couldn’t see where I was going, and I tripped on the unforgiving asphalt.
I barely registered my dad’s voice coming from behind me, and I definitely didn’t feel pain, at least not yet. But I knew from years of sports’ injuries that adrenaline could mask the initial discomfort, and you would always feel it later.
I was still getting up, brushing away bits of rocks and gravel from my uniform where I’d landed on it and from my hands, which had taken the brunt of the skidding part of my fall, when everything around me went white.
White, like blinding white.
It came in a flash, all at once, from somewhere that seemed both far away and right on top of me at the same time. In that moment I couldn’t see anything, but I heard my dad.
He was screaming this time. Screaming and screaming. My chest felt tight, and my eyes burned as I tried to find him, tried to see through the light that scorched my retinas.
All I knew was that one moment I was in the middle of a deserted stretch of highway, arguing with my dad about scholarships and boys, and the next minute my limbs were tingling and I felt weightless and dizzy.
Then . . .
. . . nothing.
Every Wednesday in the month of March, we will be posting our updated reviews and something new from the book! Next week, a character interview with Kyra and Tyler!