Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Boy I Love by Nina de Gramont...

The Boy I Love by Nina de Gramont  
Publication Date: September 2, 2014

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When the boy you love asks you to keep his greatest secret, do you? 

A thought-provoking, achingly complex novel about prejudice and the many meanings of love from Nina de Gramont, author of Meet Me at the River, which Kirkus Reviews called a “must-read.” 

Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s.

 Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim...always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love.

Dad came out while I was waiting with Daisy on the front stoop. “Where you going?” 

“Riding around with Tim,” I said. 

He scratched his head a minute. If they hadn’t been so wrapped up in the farm, I’m sure my parents would have made Tim the topic of much discussion and warning and rules. But as it happened, they’d barely said a word. 

Now Dad dusted off his old parenting skills. “I’m trying to remember when we said you could ride in cars with guys,” he said. 

“You never bothered saying I could or couldn’t, but since I’ve been doing it for about three months, I’d say that ship has sailed.” 

Dad sighed. “Wren,” he said, “I don’t know when you got all grown up.” 

By now I could see Mrs. Greenlaw’s shiny, clean car, getting all dirty from the dust in our driveway. I gave Daisy a scratch on her head and stood up. Dad looked tired, and I knew Thanksgiving had been even worse for him than it had been for me. It used to be that he and Mom got along just fine. The only thing they’d ever fought about was money, and now since the only thing anyone ever talked about was money, all they ever did was fight. 

“Don’t worry, Dad,” I said, taking pity on him. “I’m not all grown up just yet.” 

He smiled and ruffled my hair. “Glad to hear it, Wrenny. Very glad indeed.” 

Tim got out of the car and came over to shake Dad’s hand and talk to him a minute about what a safe driver he was, then we got into the car and drove away. Halfway down the road we switched so I could practice driving, even though technically Tim hadn’t had his license long enough to count as a supervising driver. It made me feel kind of reckless and powerful, this little bit of lawbreaking.

On the way into Williamsport we passed the turnoff to Knockton Farms. I asked Tim if he’d mind stopping here a minute. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so the place looked pretty deserted. I pulled in front of the barn and we walked on in. I checked out the horses in the stalls, but didn’t find Brutus. It looked like a pretty nice place, though, smelling of clean straw and the same castile soap my mom and I used to clean tack. 

“Can I help you two kids?” A lady in a T-shirt and chaps came into the barn, leading a saddled quarter horse. I felt my face go hot, like I’d been caught somewhere I shouldn’t be. Tim noticed and spoke up for me. 

“My friend here used to own a horse that you bought recently,” he said. “She just wanted to visit him.” 

“Oh,” said the lady. “You must be the Piner girl. Well, Brutus is doing just great.” 

“You didn’t change his name?” I felt relief at this, along with her niceness. 

“No, ma’am, I didn’t. Brutus is out in that pasture by the silo.” She jutted her chin in the direction. “You come on by and visit with him anytime you like.”

 “All right,” I said. “Thank you. Does he mind it much, being ridden for lessons?” 

“He seems to like it just fine,” she said, in that same nice and understanding voice. I smiled at her, remembering how gentle Brutus had always been with my friends. “Thank you,” I said. 

At the pasture, Tim and I climbed up on the wooden fence. I made a clucking noise and called out, “Brutus.” 

The thing about horses, they’re fairly low-key as far as expressing affection. For example, if for some terrible reason we ever had to give Daisy away, and then I came to visit her, you can bet she would have knocked me over and smothered me with kisses. A horse won’t do that. But what Brutus did was touching in its own way. He lifted his head like the sound of my voice had startled him. Then he let out a little rumbling snort and trotted over with his ears pointed toward me. When he got there, he arched his head over the gate and started chewing on my left pocket, where I generally kept sugar cubes. 

“He missed you,” Tim said. 

“I missed him, too.” These days, because of my hurt hand, I kept my sugar cubes in my right pocket. 

I reached in, pulled a couple out, and fed them to Brutus, glad that I could come see him whenever I wanted.

Nina de Gramont is the author of the story collection Of Cats and Men, which was a Book Sense selection and won a Discovery Award from the New England Booksellers Association. Her first novel, Gossip of the Starlings, was also a Book Sense pick. She is the co-editor of an anthology called Choice, and the author of a novel for teens, Every Little Thing in the World, which was an ALA pick for Best Fiction for Young Readers.  Her next novel for teens, Meet Me at the River, comes out in October of 2013, and she is also the author, under the name Christine Woodward, of Rogue Touch, available in June of 2013.  Nina’s work has appeared in Redbook, Harvard Review, Nerve, post road, and Seventeen. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter.

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