November 6, 2018! (Owl Hollow Press)
“Beautiful. Raw. Tender. Gritty. The cherry on top of the crème of Young Adult fiction.” —Sunniva Dee, #1 international bestselling author
“Seventeen-year-old Freedom Paine is faced with impossible choices. Her mother is dead. Her father is barely holding it together. She is the only stable individual her brother “Little” has ever known, and they are on the run from a secret that could tear them apart. Cole Anderson knows about secrets. Unfortunately, in the small town of Poplar Branch, WV, secrets are a luxury that Cole does not have. Everyone knows who his family is and that he is from the holler. Even as he tries to keep his secrets from Free, Cole wants to learn hers. Up in the mountains of McDowell County, there is only drugs, trash, and despair, but somehow Cole and Freedom may have found something that could save them both. Told from two perspectives, this story of love and loss will captivate readers. Vroman writes for a teen audience with maturity and grace, never watering down the heartrending misery of poverty. This is a book that will resonate with young people long after they’ve turned the last page. A first choice for all young adult library shelves” —School Library Journal
The hollow was the perfect place to hide.
Or so Free’s dad thought. His plan: flee California with Free’s five-year-old brother illegally in tow, hide out in the mountains of West Virginia, make fast cash during ginseng season, then escape to a nicer place where the law can’t find them. Free isn’t thrilled about living in a holler alongside drug dealers and thieves, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Unfortunately, with their father disappearing into the woods with increasing frequency, Free and her brother exist largely alone. Until their neighbor Cole appears with lots of questions.
Cole’s spent his entire life in the holler—and his entire life working out a way to leave his druggie mother and incarcerated brother. As the editor of the school newspaper, he’s an expert at getting to the bottom of a story, and he’s determined to crack Free—who seems un-crack-able.
When the family she was desperate to protect is ripped apart, Free turns to Cole for help, the only person willing. But while her plan escalates, Free can’t deny the pull she feels toward the boy with too many questions—and who holds just as many secrets. As they become closer, she finds that Cole might need her help as much as she needs his.