After three years in foster care, seventeen-year-old Deanna Mason’s decided she’s had enough turmoil and loss. Her only focus is turning eighteen, “graduating” the system, and escaping her past. She doesn’t need to keep anyone close—she’s far beyond that.
But one impulsive choice in the parking lot of a crummy minimart changes everything. She tackles a stranger with a gun to stop a domestic assault because, try as she might, she can’t ignore a cowering little boy who reminds her of her childhood. The scene’s caught on a witness’s cell phone, and the media labels her a hero. The story goes viral and Deanna accepts an invitation to interview on a national talk show featuring “everyday heroes”—filmed on a cruise ship.
In the Caribbean, it’s easier to believe in her biological mom’s new sobriety and the promises she made before Deanna boarded the ship. It’s also easier to imagine a future with Nathan, her co-ed foster brother who joins her on the cruise. She works to see herself through his eyes, as a girl who’s always been lovable.
Once back on land, though, her mother’s relapse and rejection prove Deanna can’t elude real life, surreal celebrity or not. As the airdate of the talk show approaches the pressure grows unbearable, so Deanna pushes everyone away—including Nathan. Yet suddenly she’s not sure she feels safest alone anymore. If she can’t find the courage she displayed in one heroic act to risk an open heart, she’ll return to being a mere bystander of her own life.
UNKNOWN HERO (tentatively titled) is a young adult contemporary novel complete at 87,000 words. Its inspiration comes from my work experience as a therapist in both a domestic violence shelter and a mental health and substance abuse clinic. I am also fascinated by the psychology of heroism and am a member of SCBWI.
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