Girl on the Brink
by Christina Hoag
Genre: YA Romance/Thriller
Release date: August 30th 2016
Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books
Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.
The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.
I go down to the basement and stuff a load of clothes and detergent into the washing machine. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what Kieran told me. You always hear about child abuse, but I never actually met someone who went through that. Two dads walked out on him, one beat him. Life is so unfair. Why was he born into that family, and I was born into mine?
I switch on the machine, and it grinds to life. I wish I could help him. He told me he just wanted me to love him. Love. Wholehearted, pure, simple. “All you need is love,” like that old song goes. That’s all I can do—love Kieran.
I go over to his camper later. He presents me a dozen red roses and a heart-shaped gold pendant with a little diamond in it.
“I’m so sorry for how I acted, Chloe. It won’t happen again.” He looks like a forlorn puppy.
I bury my nose in the bouquet’s sweet fragrance. It won’t happen again because Kieran poured out his soul to me. “It’s not your fault. We’re in this together now.”
He kisses me fiercely. “Sweetpea, you’re the best. Let me put the necklace on you.”
He clasps the chain around my neck, and I fill an old peanut butter jar with water.
“You know something? We’re like a Venn diagram,” I say as I put the roses in the jar.
“A Venn diagram? I gotta hear this.”
“Yeah, overlapping circles, and the overlap keeps getting bigger.”
“Until we’re one circle together. I get it. You’re deep, Chloe. I never met anyone like you.”
“I never met anyone like you.”
“Let’s go out on the lake in Claudette’s boat.”
“A Venn diagram,” he repeats as we walk to the backyard. “Only you would compare us to something out of a math textbook.” He chuckles.
A dinghy, tied to a rickety jetty, bobs on the water. Squatting, Kieran reels it in, and holds it as I step in. I shriek as the boat rocks.
“I’ve got you, sweetpea, don’t worry.”
I sit on a bench as Kieran unties the rope and pushes us into the river. He rows with giant pulls, the oars slicing the water. We reach midstream, and he pulls up the oars into their locks. We arrange ourselves so I’m lying on his chest in the vee of his legs. We let the current carry us lazily as twilight drops its gauze curtain. The only sound is the lapping water.
I trail a hand in the cool river. “What if I was kidnapped and taken off to the deepest jungle in the Congo, what would you do?”
“I’d call every senator, congressman, the president, whatever, then I’d fly there and hire trackers to find you. I wouldn’t rest until I got you back.”
Somehow I believe him. “You would totally do that, wouldn’t you?”
“You’re the most important thing in my life, Chloe. I’d never give up.”
I twist my head to look up at him. “I’ve never felt so…protected before. My parents never stood up for me. In fourth grade, these girls were bullying and teasing me on my way to school every day. I told my mom. She never did anything. I had to find a new way to school on my own.”
“Nothing like that will happen to you while I’m around. I got your back, Chloe, totally.”
I kiss the palm of his hand. He is so utterly, completely and absolutely there for me, and it’s the most awesome, perfect feeling in the world.
ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it.
For more information, see http://www.breakthecycle.org/dating-violence-research.
Girl on the Brink is the story of an abusive relationship. Abusers tend to follow a set pattern of behaviors, and when you’re familiar with what they are, they are recognizable. In my novel, the main character Chloe experiences all the following in her relationship with Kieran.
Key Signs You Are Dating an Abuser
- Rushed relationship.He presses for an exclusive commitment almost immediately. He claims to have never loved anyone like this before.
- Jealousy. He’s jealous of any guy you even speak to and says his jealousy shows how much he loves you. He’s possessive, calling constantly, dropping in out of the blue, and gives you little room to yourself.
- Controlling. He checks up on you, interrogates you about where you went and who you were with, monitors your email and phone. He wants you to ask him permission to do anything.
- Unrealistic expectations.He puts you on a pedestal, expecting you to be perfect and fulfill his every need, and will tear you off the pedestal when you aren’t perfect.
- Isolation. He tries to cut you off from family and friends.
- Blaming.He faults others for his own mistakes and makes others responsible for his feelings: “You make me mad,” not “I’m mad.”
- Hypersensitive. He’s thin-skinned, taking minor slights as major insults and blowing them up into more than they’re worth.
- Verbal abuse. He criticizes you, calls you names, embarrasses you, uses your vulnerabilities against you.
- Mood swings. He goes from normal to raging almost instantly.
- Minimizes. He minimizes the harm he’s done to you: “You’re making a big deal out of that?” He promises to never do it again or get help. He goes on a charm offensive with gifts after an abusive incident.
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, get help. Call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline at 866-331-9474 or text loveis to 225522.
“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian
About the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com.
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Blog Tour Organized by: