Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sneak Peek: The Weight of the Sky by Caroline Schley with Giveaway


The Weight of the Sky
by Caroline Schley
 May 20th 2021
YA Contemporary


Speak meets Gossip Girl in this searing contemporary Young Adult novel where the most courageous three words a teenage girl will ever have to say are, “I need help.”

But fifteen-year-old Chris Miller is far from courageous. She does nothing when her best friend is sent to juvenile detention for a crime Chris knows she didn’t commit. She stays quiet as her mother steamrolls her into a scholarship program at St. Catherine’s Prep for her sophomore year. She acquiesces when her new friends introduce ‘drinkstagram’ at their sleepovers. Chris understands that quiet insecurity isn’t the most valiant approach to life, but it gets her through the day unscathed. Until she’s sexually assaulted.

In the aftermath, Chris’s fragile coping mechanisms crumble, alongside her grades and her tenuous happiness. When Chris is forced to volunteer at an afterschool program to maintain her scholarship, she finds herself catapulted back to the very neighborhood she has been struggling to escape. When her family is thrust into the crosshairs of a gang war, she discovers just how much damage her silence can cause. Ultimately, she must decide if she will continue to stay quiet as others call the shots and remain a victim, or if she can forge the strength to stand up, declare the truth and call herself a survivor.

Trigger Warning: This story contains content that may be sensitive for some readers including sexual assault and drug/alcohol consumption

Goodreads / Amazon


Chris clutched at her necklace as she walked up the campus steps. She thrust open the double doors and crossed the threshold of the building into a hive of activity. At the center of it all was a plastic folding table adorned with a St. Catherine's banner. Chris approached a blonde woman perched on a metal chair, a large pile of papers in front of her and an eager smile on her face. 

“Hi. I’m Ms. Engel. Welcome to St. Catherine’s. Name and grade?”

“Hi. Chris Miller. Sophomore. Well, going to be a sophomore. Starting next week.” Chris pinched the inside of her cheek with her teeth to force herself to stop talking as Ms. Engel dove into the stack of papers in front of her. 

“Great. Here's your schedule. Oh, I'll be your advisor.” The woman clapped at the last sentence as though it was the best news she’d heard all day. Chris bit back a laugh, thinking of her advisor last year at Bridgeport High. Mr. Ortiz had never clapped a day that Chris had known him. Instead, he used their advisory block as a time to lecture them about the statistical probability that they would end up in jail, emphasizing his words with a dour expression that conveyed every second of his thirty years in the public school system. 

Ms. Engel continued talking as she pushed the schedule across the table. “Here, check your classes; let me know if anything seems off. Otherwise, one of our volunteer student mentors will show you around in just a minute.” 

Chris gripped the paper. “Thanks.” She headed towards a bench as she scanned the course titles, teachers and rooms for each period. AP Biology was there, very first thing.  

A willowy girl with white-blond hair, Everest-high cheekbones and a small, defiant chin approached Chris, wearing a large tag that read "Mentor". Her skin glowed with a soft almond shade that Chris’s mother had always called country club tan. It was not a compliment. Chris couldn’t help but look down at her own arm, pale from too many summer days inside reading or working at Sol y Mar. She thought the tan looked perfect. 

“Hi! I'm Sterling.” Sterling? “Welcome to St. Catherine's. Do you need some help figuring out your schedule?” She wedged in next to Chris without waiting for a response and started to read over her shoulder.

“Wow, you're in AP Bio? And you're new? I didn't even know that was, like, allowed.” The girl popped her gum and frowned at the paper. 

“Oh. I'm...sort of...going to see. Hi. I'm Chris.” 

Sterling continued to scan the schedule as she spoke. “Right, hi. Ugh, Period 2 PE is the worst. You should bring dry shampoo.” She folded the rectangle of paper and handed it back as Chris added dry shampoo to her mental list of things to worry about.

“Did you just move here?” Sterling's voice held an edge of boredom as her hand etched over the screen of her phone. “I’m just going to pull up a picture of this dry shampoo, it's called R+Co Death Valley and it's amazing. If you buy it through my Instagram code, it's ten percent off.”

“Oh...ahh, thanks. No, I've lived in Bridgeport my whole life.” Chris had hardly ever even been anywhere else. Her mother had taken them on one vacation to Cape Cod. They'd waited until the summer prices dropped and all Chris remembered was the glacial October rain sweeping in off the Atlantic Ocean. 

Sterling arched an eyebrow. “In Bridgeport? Where did you go to school before?”

“Last year I went to Bridgeport High.” 

“Like the public school?” The eyebrow twitched.

Chris wanted to melt into the bench as she nodded. She felt the cheap fabric of her jeans rub against the insides of her knees. Her dark hair, which she'd brushed until it shone that morning, looked wilted and sad next to Sterling's crisp ponytail. The gold chain looped around her neck seemed feeble and impotent compared to the chunky jewelry that accented Sterling's slender body. As Sterling gestured into her next sentence, Chris noted a thick, metal watch glinting on her wrist in a sea of hefty bangles. Chris fought the urge to slip off the fabric band of her secondhand Timex and burn it in the gold-plated trashcan.

“What was that like?”

Chris didn't know what to compare it to. She had been terrified there. There was a metal detector to pass through every morning, and police cruisers lined up outside school every afternoon. 

“It was…okay, if you knew how to mind your own business, I guess.”

Sterling giggled. “Well, welcome to St. Catherine's. Good luck minding your own business. Most of us have been here since like, kindergarten and we're all are nosy as fuck.”

And here she is...

I am a writer, teacher and outdoor enthusiast, always looking for a new adventure.

Originally from New York City, I have also lived in China, New Zealand and Spain. I’m on a constant quest for the best food and views in the world. Some of my favorite places are the GR 221 in Mallorca, the top floor of the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the window seat on a Fifth Avenue bus in Manhattan.

I’m have received comprehensive work training in a large variety of fields including political street canvassing, freelance writing, white water rafting, latte making, childcare and secondary science education.

I have an undergraduate Magna Cum Laude degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Hydrology from CU-Boulder and a graduate degree in Secondary Science Education from NYU. I’ve served as an NSTA New Teacher Fellow, a Jhumpki Basu Fellow and participated in the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Training program.

I’ve just completed my first YA contemporary manuscript and I’m seeking agent and publisher representation.

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