Sunday, May 23, 2021

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Weight of the Sky by Caroline Schley

Title: The Weight of the Sky
Author: Caroline Schley
Publication Date: May 20th 2021
Print Length: 308 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

For every important decision in her life, fifteen-year-old Chris Miller relies on silence rather than courage. In her rough Bridgeport neighborhood, Chris bites her tongue when her best friend gets sent to juvenile detention for a crime she didn’t commit. As a scholarship kid at St. Catherine’s Prep, Chris acquiesces to ‘drinkstagram’ at tony sleepover parties. At home with her overbearing mother, she swallows her questions about her father’s identity. 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 tenuous happiness crumbles alongside her grades, yet she can’t find the courage to report the assault. At a crossroads, Chris is forced to volunteer at an afterschool program for low-income families to maintain her scholarship. Catapulted back to the very neighborhood she struggled to escape, Chris finds her family thrust into the crosshairs of a gang war. When one of the students from her afterschool program is put at risk, Chris discovers just how much damage her silence can cause. Ultimately, she must decide if she will remain quiet as others call the shots and remain a victim or if she can forge the strength to stand up, speak the truth and call herself a survivor.

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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 f*ck.”
Caroline Schley is a YA author and high school science teacher. Originally from New York City, she currently lives in Madrid and will happily travel long distances for white sand beaches, high-quality chocolate and alpine hiking trails. You can find out about her current writing projects and stay in touch by visiting her website.

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  1. Sharing this with my granddaughter.. she will love it...

  2. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  3. this sounds like a wonderful book

  4. this looks like a great read!

  5. It sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thanks for telling me about this book

  7. The excerpt is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. David HollingsworthMay 24, 2021 at 5:22 PM

    What inspired you to write this book?

  9. I would so enjoy this read.
    Thank you for sharing the review.

  10. Nice book cover and the book sounds interesting.

  11. I love the beautiful cover. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I like the excerpt. Thanks for sharing it! I'm looking forward to reading the whole book.

  13. This sounds like a great read.

  14. Caroline Schley is a new author to me, but I look forward to reading this. I always love meeting new authors. Thanks to this blog for the introduction.

  15. sounds like a fun one

  16. The cover looks awesome love the sky

  17. My daughter would enjoy this book