Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Purchase Links Amazon
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, strength, and hope.
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?
Hi! I’m thrilled to share the first ever public extract from THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES with you! This scene is from the second chapter. Wing Jones, the main character, is at her older brother’s football game. In this extract, you’ll meet Wing, her mom, and her two grandmothers: Granny Dee and LaoLao. Granny Dee and LaoLao were my favorite characters to write—I hope you like them as much as I do! They both have big personalities, and are a mix of spicy and sweet, just like the dishes LaoLao likes to cook.
This was actually the very first scene I ever wrote for THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES, back when I first had the idea, so it seems very appropriate that it is the first scene I’m sharing with the world! I hope you enjoy it!
The cheers are deafening.
Even though I’ve been watching my brother do this his whole life, watching him get knocked down and knocked out, I tense and hold my breath, waiting for the four guys chasing him to tackle him. They don’t. Marcus slips through their outstretched arms like a stick of butter, and he’s glossy and shiny too, I can see that from here, and he pulls back his arm like a sling and the ball goes flying and the crowd stands as one, everyone except my mother, who’s sitting with her hands over her eyes because she can’t stand to watch him play. My brother’s best friend, Aaron, jumps into the air like a gazelle, he’s all grace and power, and I get the little shiver I get watching him, a 10 11 very different feeling I get from watching Marcus, and his hands grab the ball and he lands with it secure between his palms, and then the crowd really loses it.
Above the roar of the people around me I hear the announcer shouting “Touchdown!” as if we haven’t just seen what happened. The clock hits zero just as the scoreboard updates, showing that Marcus and Aaron’s touchdown has won them the game. The band starts up and the cheerleaders wave their pom-poms and all around me people are cheering, throwing their popcorn in the air, knocking over their cups of Coke, acting like they personally threw the ball or caught it or did anything at all other than stand here and watch. But Marcus says that’s all they need to do and if they didn’t he wouldn’t have a scholarship. Wouldn’t have a job playing professional football one day. So I guess the crowd is just as much a part of this moment, his moment, as anyone out there on the field.
Marcus and Aaron run at each other like long-lost lovers, their arms are tight around each other, and Aaron is ripping off Marcus’s helmet and rubbing his knuckles in his hair and their smiles are so bright, I swear they light up the field more than the floodlights.
My mother finally lowers her hands from her eyes and looks up.
“It’s done?” she says, her Chinese accent heavier because she’s scared. “He didn’t get hurt?”
“He didn’t get hurt,” I assure her.
“And he won?”
Now that she knows he’s OK, she can focus on the important things. Like the final score.
“They won,” I say, consciously changing the pronoun. Although Marcus once said that even though there’s no I in team, there is one in win. Aaron tackled him for that, right off the front porch.
My mom stands. “I knew he would win,” she says, voice confident. “Marcus always wins.”
“Of course he does!” My Granny Dee, my dad’s mom, sniffs. “He’s my grandson, ain’t he?” LaoLao, my mom’s mom, gives a sniff of her own.
“He my grandson!” she proclaims, her Chinese accent even more pronounced than my mother’s.
Granny Dee and LaoLao have this argument at every game. As if one of them could have more claim to Marcus than the other. They look over at me at the same time, and I wonder if they notice how even when they bicker, they move like two parts of the same machine.
Copyright: Delacorte Press
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