Title: The Undesirable
Author: Sara Celi
Publisher: Lowe Interactive Media
Book Description: *This book is Mature YA/ New Adult. It is recommended for readers 14 and over. What if everything you knew turned out to be a lie? Charlotte Walker knows how to live under the rule of The Party. She has managed for 18 years. She helps out her drunken mother and keeps life going at a familiar, steady pace. She doesn’t ask questions, even though she has many of them in her heart. Fostino Sanchez knows how to live under the rule of The Party, too. For 19 years, he’s worked to be the perfect Party member. He knows what must be done to keep Maxwell Cooper in power, and how find the The Undesirables that threaten to take away everything that matters. As the months go by, what matters most to Fostino is Charlotte Walker. While their love blooms, danger comes to Charlotte and Fostino’s small hometown of Harrison Corners, OH. Threats they never knew existed could take away all that they care about. And just when these two teens think they know what will come next, Charlotte learns the truth about a secret she has long suspected. What Charlotte finds out changes everything. EVERYTHING. THE UNDESIRABLE is Charlotte Walker’s story, from her point of view. It is a thrilling, suspenseful tale of love, curiosity, adversity, and maturity against the backdrop of a futuristic war. Should Charlotte trust Fostino with what she knows? Can she trust anyone? Will she find it in herself to rise up against terrible odds? What if the ultimate Undesirable is her?
Fostino’s frown mixes with his tightened jaw. “Are you serious about this, Charlotte? Really serious? I just — I can’t believe you’re breaking up with me.” His eyebrows pull tighter than any seam I have ever sewn.“God. I’m so stupid.” His mouth sets in a hard line. My heartbeat jumps to my ears. I bite down hard on the inside of my bottom lip. Oh, God. Did I make the right choice? Will he understand? Will he always hate me? My breath quickens as the air constricts all around the two of us. I almost taste the awkwardness in the air. I pray my pain doesn’t show on my face. How do people manage to stay friends after something like this? I can’t. No, I won’t. Not this time. I stand in this apartment and know that I failed to make this breakup painless.My words cover this small dusty room. All the muscles in my back tighten and twist from the stress. We will never be just friends — ever. He gets up from the couch and pulls on his worn, muddy combat boots. He seems wounded, broken, and defeated. He radiates pain. He picks up my keys to the apartment from the coffee table. Awkward. My mind flickers to the beginning. I remember the moment in the town square when The Party transformed our lives. I want to go back and change everything since then. “I wanted to take care of you and shield you from—” He stops and gestures to the windows and the crumbling world outside this room. His soulful brown eyes glint with anger. “Everything.” Now he exhales. “I guess I’m not surprised. Not after all that happened.”His shoulders slump. Sweat beads on the back of my neck. I swallow some of my uneasiness. My plan just might work. I taste the hollow victory in the back of my throat. Good. “I—I’m sorry.” I have nothing else to say, no words to make this better. In minutes, I’ll leave the apartment and flee my life because I have no other choice. “I’ll never understand you. Or this.” Fostino shakes his head of dark waves. He fixates on the bare wall behind me. His words hurt, but Fostino can’t know how much he affects me. I push away the urge to reach out and hold him tighter than I ever hugged anyone. Instead, I shudder a little in my shapeless black dress — the one the government issued me last month. I hate this. I am not a cold person. I don’t hurt people on purpose. “Fostino, I—“ In a few steps, I reach his side. My shaky hand reaches out and the keys link our hands together. I smell him through all the dust in this studio apartment with the Murphy bed in the corner. I inhale just remember how he smells. I’m so afraid I will forget it. Each second ticks by worse than the last. This conversation is hard, so very hard. I bite down on the inside of my cheek to stop myself from saying something I can’t back up. If only I could tell him the truth, share my terrible secret, and find a way out of my bleak future. If only. “Did you ever mean anything you said? I mean, even for one second. Did you ever even like me?” He balls his hand into a fist once I raise my arm to stop him. He keeps talking anyway. “I told you I loved you right here in this room, even though you didn’t say it back. I meant it.” My stomach twists and heart pounds while I keep up the lies. “Well — I did like you.” I emphasize my next words as my toes curl in my sandals. “I thought I loved you once. I wanted to say it, but—” “But, I’ll always love you. I will.” He mutters something else I can’t understand, and his words undo me. I give in and kiss him. His lips are a gentle push against mine, and the kiss is so good it hurts. His lips taste like a nectar I want to savor forever. But I can’t. This moment must stay cold and Fostino needs to know this is goodbye for good. Before the kiss intensifies, I pull away and remember my task. The black Humvee full of people waits around the corner. We all must leave soon. They gave me fifteen minutes to make sure this break-up is a clean one. Time is up. Now. His eyes lock mine. “Why won’t you tell me what’s really going on?” Oh no. He can’t know the truth. Hurt him. They told me I must end it.Loving me will destroy him. It will destroy everything. My teeth bite my lip hard on the inside as I search for the words. “It’s — well — we just…we aren’t right for each other. I don’t want you to come after me. We need to end this. This relationship—” “Whatever. It’s fine. You shouldn’t make stuff up.”Fostino sounds very weary and haggard with each sentence. I take my keys and slide them into the black wool satchel on my left shoulder. Then I take the deception a step further. “I won’t ever love you, Fostino Ahmed.” The words taste like rusted metal. “I just won’t.” My hands open the door with purpose. A few steps will take me through an ancient hallway that links this apartment with sixteen others. I push myself through the doorframe and pull the door shut behind me. Then I take the first steps of what I know will be a lifetime of solitary strides. With each step, I sever this connection. Once outside, I round the corner and slide into the alleyway as the armored vehicle hums a signal. The Humvee’s fat tires set off its flat black paint, tinted windows, silver chrome handles, and a large armored grill on the front and the back. This car is a fortress, made for combat and intimidation. All the cars the government owns mirror this one. I slip inside and sink into black leather. Soon, we will all leave Harrison Corners, Ohio. This small band of rebels will take me some place. And I don’t care where. I just want to disappear, and need to more than ever. After I close the Humvee door, Thompson speaks first. “Did he believe you?” Thompson throws the vehicle into gear and drives it down the alley. He gets irritated when I don’t answer right away and runs a thick hand through his long dreadlocks. “Well?”
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New Orleans born Sara Celi has lived all over the United States. She calls the Greater Cincinnati area and the Queen City home. She’s currently a TV reporter and anchor in Oklahoma City, and has spent more than a decade working in journalism. She graduated cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 2004. Celi is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive. The Undesirable is her debut novel. In her spare time, she likes to read, shop, write, travel, run long distances, volunteer with the Junior League, and fundraise for Cooperative for Education, a non-profit providing educational opportunities for Guatemalan kids.