Concealed In The Shadows by Gabrielle Arrowsmith
(YA Dystopian- Available Now)
Sydney Harter has long awaited September 12th, 2033—her eighteenth birthday. She can finally apply for guardianship of her sister, who is her only family and entire world. She hopes they will be lawfully reunited, but is prepared to defy authority and risk everything to escape the captivity of Miles County so that they can be together.
Escaping will be difficult and dangerous. Citizens are bound to their county by sophisticated chip implants that deliver shocks to those who dare to cross the electric barrier. Sydney is very clever, but her trickery is limited against the all-seeing eyes of technology. Even if they were to survive the escape, disappearing into the forgotten forests and towns of the past seems an impossible task.
What Sydney doesn't know is that she is the particular interest of two opposing forces. With deceit, fear, and warfare surrounding her—can she trust the party that aims to help with her fight against the other? Can she open her heart to receive and return unexpected love? When her sister’s life becomes jeopardized, Sydney will have to weigh a new love against the only enduring love she has known. The cost could be deadly…
How will she choose?
Suddenly, the little girl isn’t so brave. Tears overtake her small face as she buries herself in her grandmother’s lap. “You’re not going to let them take you away, are you, Grandma? You can’t leave us!” The desperate pleas of the helpless child prove to be too much for her grandmother. The tears escape her too, but she fights to hold in the anger and the revulsion in order to be strong for the sake of the child.
“I wish I could stay forever, sweetheart. I wish I could see you and your sister grow into the strong, beautiful women that I know you will become. I wish I could see your mother get healthy again.” The tears try to choke off her words, but she forces them out. “But, you see, last night was my last Friday night sleepover with you and your sister, and sweetheart,” she places her hand on the shoulder of the little girl and smiles, “it was one of the best days of my life. I get to leave this world with warm memories of baking cookies and painting flowers with my two favorite people in the world.”
“I don’t want you to go!” the child protests as her heart boils and her face floods. She pulls her grandma’s arms around her and buries her head into her chest as she begs, “Just tell them you don’t feel sick. Tell them you want to stay a little longer.” She closes her eyes tightly and wishes that it were a nightmare. But already the little girl knows better than hoping for happiness in her life. She knows there are no exceptions to the unchallengeable laws.
“I know, sweetheart, I know.” The woman strokes and kisses the distraught and fragile girl’s hair as the child clings to her tightly. A few more tears slide from her weary eyes before she finds the strength to make a final request of her beloved grandchild.
“Sydney?” She looks down to where I’m still clinging to her, not ready to come away and meet the eyes I love so much as she tells me that this is the last time I will see her. “Sydney,” she tries again, this time gently pulling my chin from her chest. “I need you to do me one last favor, okay?” My grandma can see that I can’t handle this. How can she ask me, a mere child, to let go of the one I love most, the unyielding presence in my life? Her next words seem sharper than the rest in the memory, and I never let them go.
“Sydney Harter, I know it will be hard, but you have no choice other than to be the bravest girl there ever was. You have to be brave so that you and Evvie can grow up strong. Grandpa and I, your dad, and Grandma and Grandpa Harter, want to look down on you and smile because of how proud you’ve made us.” She waits. My wails have subsided to sobs, but the pain hasn’t lessened any. “You want to make all of us proud, right honey?”
“Yes,” I reply shakily. It took so much to utter that single word because with it came the acknowledgement that I had only begun learning hardship.
“Good, sweetheart. Good girl,” she soothes. “What I need you to do is try your very hardest to take care of your sister. Be good all the time and try to help your mom when she seems sick.” Grandma’s eyes enlarge and she squeezes my hand more tightly. “Never ever tell anyone about your mom’s sickness, even if it seems like they are trying to help. Can you be a big girl and do those things for me, sweetheart?” I nod that I can, although I don’t believe it, and empty my heart in her lap for the last time.
About Gabrielle Arrowsmith:
GABRIELLE ARROWSMITH enjoyed writing her debut novel, Concealed in the Shadows, during a lovely Minnesota summer that she had off from her primary profession, teaching. Acting, playing and coaching soccer, reading, playing piano, and spending time with family and friends are among her other interests.
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