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Book Title: Life After Juliet
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary YA
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been back in school. I don’t really do days anymore. Time is measured in pages. I’ve read 3,718 pages since Dad dropped me off on the first day. It’s been 108,023 pages since Charlotte died. I’ve read 150 pages since I stepped on the bus this morning. It’s been ten pages since I thought of Charlotte.
She’s not coming back, and I don’t know what else to do, so I keep turning the pages.
However long I’ve been back at Sandstone High, the advanced literature and composition teacher, Mrs. Jonah, informed me yesterday that I am no longer allowed to “sit like a bump on a log, reading books” in her class. I find this strange, but then, I don’t understand the real world. I’ve given up trying to make any kind of sense of it. Today in class, I am sitting like a bump on a log, staring out the window.
Sandstone is a typical high school, unlike the fancy math and science school on the other side of town that Charlie graduated from last spring. It’s the kind of building that’s been pieced together—add a wing here, convert a gym there, dump mobile units here—throughout the decades as the town’s population grew and it had to be quickly expanded. There’s no one defining style. It’s a mishmash. The kids who go here are also diverse, so it’s not hard for me to fade into the background.
Lit and Comp is a junior course. The guidance counselor signed me up for it at the end of last year. She described it as a lively class full of opportunities for personal and artistic growth. In other words, it’s my worst nightmare. I’ve decided growth is overrated.
Mrs. Jonah’s classroom is long and narrow, with a wall of windows down the side. She’s decorated the wide windowsill with spindly spider plants, stacks of books, empty vintage Coke bottles that catch the sunlight, and a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, which is strange since she’s not a science teacher.
Mrs. Jonah raps on her desk now to get our attention. She stands and brushes invisible lint off her black pencil skirt. Tall and unafraid of wearing high heels, she towers over everyone in the school, even the basketball coach. Her pixie haircut and makeup are always perfect. She’s the most with it human I’ve ever seen.
“Time’s up,” she says. “Please, pass your quizzes forward.”
I’ve been done with my quiz for what would have been about twenty pages, if reading were still allowed in Lit class. I pass my paper to the boy in front of me. He runs his hand through his choppy black hair and smiles. His lips are chapped, and the smiling pulls the raw skin too tight. It makes me wince. I instantly feel bad, because I remember this guy.
Max. He was in Mr. Bunting’s World History class with Charlotte and me last year. He was the only student at Sandstone who spoke directly to me after Charlotte died. He came right up to me in history, cleared his throat so I’d look up from my book and said, “Sorry for your loss.”
I remember I got up and left the room. It was either that or start crying.
He’s still looking at me now. I should say something, something nice, like “Thank you for your condolences.” Instead, I look out the window again.
Max sighs, soft like the riffle of book pages, as he turns around and passes our quizzes forward. I’m used to that sound. It’s the sound of my father when I refuse to put my book down and come join my mother and him. The sound of my mother when she realizes I’ve been listening to the book characters in my head instead of her. Lately, I’m really only safe lost in the pages of a book. Outside, in the real world, it’s like I’m walking around with no skin. Everything hurts.
A Day in the Life of Shannon Lee Alexander
*Disclaimer: every day is different for me. Routine is not a thing I do particularly well anymore. Plus, it’s summer, so the schedule was tossed in the fire pit on the last day of school.
8:00 am – The alarm goes off. I silence it and then weep into my pillow because I just want to sleep more!
8:15 am – stumble downstairs, praying there is coffee leftover from when my husband left earlier. Trip over the dog, twice, on my way to let her out into the backyard, where she tears off like a Banshee after a chipmunk we’re all convinced is up to no good.
8:20 am – Hug Son as he makes his breakfast. Ignore the milk that splashes out of his bowl because I’m trying to teach him responsibility and surely he’s noticed—ah, yes, there he goes wiping it up with the tail of his shirt. Awesome.
8:21 am – Spill coffee grinds on counter as I try to pour them in the filter because how am I supposed to make coffee when I haven’t had any coffee?!
8:30 am – Let the panting dog back inside and console her about her failed mission to thwart the evil chimpmunk. Wake Daughter for breakfast before swim team practice.
8:35 am – Coffee break!
8:40 am – Open email and become immediately overwhelmed by all the people trying to talk to me. Ignore emails in favor of checking Instagram. Ogle all the beautiful Bookstagram accounts until I start to feel crappy about my own poor account because Seriously, Shannon, what good is a Bookstagram account if you don’t have colourful candies and beautiful hand-lettered cards to go with your books. And no, that sticky note you scribbled on is not a hand-lettered card.
9:05 am – Coffee break!
9:10 am – Son is beside himself because there is a mouse-like animal trapped in the basement window well and “Please, Mommy, please! Save him.” So I go outside and walk around to the window well expecting a tiny, cute mouse, but am faced with what I consider to be the clown of the rodent world. A Possum. I hate clowns, but I think I maybe hate possums more. Except Son is determined that I save this one because, “It looks so sad, Mom!” So I build a ramp for this clown of the rodent world to climb up, swearing I will hit it on its freakish head if it bears its pointy teeth at me or hisses. We leave the ramp in place and I explain that’s all I can do (because there is no way in all of creation that I’m lifting that clown rodent out of there with my hands). I talk about survival of the fittest and how if he can’t figure out to use the ramp out then he really isn’t smart enough for the rodent world. “It’s not like we want dumb possums running around the yard. What will the evil chipmunk overlord say?”
9:15 am – Take children to swim team practice. Yes, I’m wearing my pajamas. No, I don’t care.
9:30 am – Work on LIFE AFTER JULIET press and promo stuff until it’s time to go get the kids. *Some days I’ll actually have to get dressed and go to my yoga class at this time. I love yoga. I don’t like getting dressed.
11:30 am – Pick up kids from pool. Hold my breath on the way home so as not to die from Chlorine inhalation.
11:45 am – Let the dog out as soon as we get home because she’s convinced that while we’ve been away the evil chipmunk has enlisted the tiny bunny that lives in the back corner to ally with him. Two evil rodents are way worse than one. P.S. Dumb clown possum is not actually as stupid as I’d thought because when we go to check on him he has managed to use the ramp and escape from his window well. Now, I’m convinced I have to move because if he isn’t dumb, then he must be kind of smart and I don’t want to live in a world with smart possums.
12:00 pm – Eat some toast and call it lunch. If the kids will eat with me, I enjoy their company. If they are being all tween and teenagery and refusing to socialize with me, then I read. I’m currently reading Francisco X. Stork’s THE MEMORY OF LIGHT.
12:30 pm – Back to work. Nowadays that’s all LIFE AFTER
JULIET related stuff, but otherwise, I’d be working on my new work in progress.
3:00 pm – Take a break (Ha! I just heart Eliza singing from the Hamilton sountrack as I wrote that). Let the dog out to patrol the back yard. Warn her about the genius possum that may be organizing a coup and taking over the chipmunk’s domain. Beg the kids to hang out with me. We like to play board games, so after we argue for about twenty minutes about what to play, we’ll usually play happily for an hour or so.
4:00 pm – Hopefully the light is still good, and I can try to get some of those elusive, stunning Bookstagram shots I’ve been trying for. They never quite turn out the same as I see them in my head. Daughter likes to help with this. She’s trying to get brave enough to ask her dad if she can have her own Instagram. I figure if she can convince him that she’s ready to handle social media, internet trolls, accidentally seeing stuff she can never unsee, and friend and follow requests from people she doesn’t know, then she’ll have a fighting chance at surviving in the sometimes apocalyptic world of social media. Don’t get me wrong. I love social media! But it can be a jungle out there.
4:30 pm – I need to face all those emails.
5:30 pm – Time to begin thinking about dinner. I actually make a calendar at the beginning of each month with dinner plans. The problem is that if I’m only just now checking it, and the menus says we’re having chicken, but all the chicken is frozen, well…it’s time to get creative.
6:00 pm – Make dinner. While things are bubbling and baking, I’m probably checking social media again. Or looking at the emails I refuse to deal with in my inbox.
6:15 pm – Feed the dog. If you don’t feed her, she’ll give you this look like she’s dying. It’s pretty pitiful.
6:30 pm – Eat dinner together. We try to eat as a family as many nights a week as possible. As long as Hubster isn’t traveling, we’re pretty successful!
7:00 pm – Clean the kitchen. Everyone has a job. Mine is to load the dishes Hubster rinses into the dishwasher. And to put the leftovers in the fridge.
7:15 pm – Walk the dog with Hubster. This is our time to catch up as a couple and talk about our days away from the kids and house.
7:30 pm – Family time. We may just hang out listening to Hamilton, play a game of H-O-R-S-E out on the back patio, ride bikes, watch a movie, or play another game. It varies, but we enjoy our time together.
8:30 pm – The kids head up for showers. Hubster and I usually do a little last minute work like answering emails or I’ll try to cram in a little extra writing time.
9:00 pm – Hubster or I will go read to Son. He’s eleven, but still likes us to read to him before bed. I figure we’ve got one more year of this. By the time Daughter was in sixth grade, she’d outgrown this ritual.
9:30 pm – Kids go to bed. Daughter sometimes stays up later, but we say goodnight now, before Hubster and I veg out in front of a few episodes of something like Parks and Rec.
10:30 pm – Knowing full well there are emails I never even attempted to answer, I go to bed, prepared to totally tackle them tomorrow.
About the Author
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.
Open internationally, but prize packs ship only to US. International winners will receive Amazon gift cards (listed below).*
· Grand prize: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet poison and dagger necklace, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
· 1st Runner Up: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4 oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
· 2nd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
· 3rd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
*All contests are open internationally, but international winners will receive the following:
· Grand prize: $25 Amazon gift card, signed signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
· 1st Runner Up: $20 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
· 2nd runner up: $15 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
· 3rd runner up: $10 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate