Release date: April 2013
by Putnam Juvenile
A gritty, atmospheric coming-of-age tale set in New York’s Lower East Side
Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream—she has her own apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when her real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream.
The sounds of the city grate against Cat’s nerves, she shrinks away from human touch, and can barely think the words “I love you” even when she feels them. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father who’s found happiness in another woman, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But then someone comes along who makes her want to stop escaping her life and actually live it, only she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control. Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.
Doesn’t this sound like a fantastic, gritty contemp story? I think so. I’ve been loving contemporaries so much lately it’s such an awesome change from all the dystopians and paranormals so I’m very excited for this release! With this cover and blurb reveal, I also have an excerpt for you as well as an entertaining interview with Jennifer that I think you will really enjoy. Then(!!) you even get a chance to win an ARC of this pretty! Right? Wicked awesome day!
I’M SITTING ON THE STONE STEPS at school, pretending to enjoy an apple that I bought from an Asian grocery a few blocks over, when all I’m really thinking about is how long I have left until I can go home and start getting ready for the club, every stroke of makeup on my skin sliding me further from daylight. I tongue the white flesh and sink my teeth in, wishing the ripe fruit was the tanned blond head of one of the salad girls.
Since Manhattan Prep is housed in a brownstone and has a population of only one hundred students or fewer in the entire school, we don’t have a cafeteria. Or a prom. Or dances. Or phys ed. Instead, the Park Avenue girls buy salads at a cafeteria next door and sit in the glass atrium picking at their wilted greens, retouching their lip gloss with sticky pink wands. Even though we are all essentially weird in some way— after all, this is a school for kids who have gotten into some kind of trouble—it’s not enough to banish cliques completely. We still have the same bullshit categories as any other school: the jocks, the popular girls, the nerds. And the untouchables.
Like me. It goes without saying that nobody wants to have lunch with the weirdo who goes to clubs all the way downtown every night, so I sit on the steps and try to pretend that it doesn’t matter, when really, I’d do just about anything to have a friend here. This silent admission makes my cheeks flush with shame. How can I be so weak? Even at Nightingale, I only ever really had Sara, her blond curls hanging over my shoulder, elaborately folded notes tossed at my feet during study hall. Somehow, it was almost enough. But here, with no one to talk to day after day, the loneliness creeps in like an old friend I no longer want to know. Worse yet, it wants to make small talk. Oh, it’s you again? How’ve you been?
Across the street, Julian, the new kid, sits on the curb in front of Ray’s Pizza, a slice dangling from one hand. As he brings the pizza to his lips, the cheese falls off in one giant greasy slide to his lap. Julian has long dark hair that hangs to his shoulders and looks as if it hasn’t made friends with soap or water in days. His skin is the color of café au lait, and there’s something about the tilt of his eyes that makes me think he’s vaguely Asian. He wears jeans so tight that I’m sure years from now he’ll be sitting in some clinic with his frosty blond wife, stammering that he has no idea WHY they’ve had such a difficult time starting a family. All I know about Julian is that (a) he sits right across the aisle from me in history class, and (b) he transferred from Dalton last week after some kind of scandal involving his ex-girlfriend, and (c) he’s totally into the Ramones. He doesn’t talk to anyone, and never raises his hand in class, just stares down at his binder and scribbles what looks like pictures of Transformers on the cover with a black pen.
Julian finishes scraping melted cheese off his jeans and looks up, an irritated expression clouding his face. When his eyes meet mine, I feel a rough shock of recognition between us and raise my apple core in a kind of demented greeting, the air suddenly as thick as pudding. Julian tosses me a curt nod and promptly goes back to stuffing the rest of the slice into his mouth, gnawing hungrily at the edges of the crust, watching me all the while. Even though I love staring, and I think that generally other people’s lives are way more interesting than TV, I feel uneasy as Julian’s eyes lock on to mine. My face burns as he chews the last bite and brushes his hands against his black jeans before walking toward me. I turn the apple core over and over between my palms, my heart careening in my chest as he approaches, glad that my hands have something to do even if the core is damp, sticky, and turning browner by the minute. As Julian moves closer, I can’t help but notice how he shakes the hair from his eyes with one expert, jagged motion, how his hazel eyes change from green to brown in the light His skin is smooth and slightly bronzed, as if he’s just returned from some exotic locale. He tilts his chin in my direction defiantly, his eyes flicking coolly over my body, taking me in.
“See something you like?” He raises one dark eyebrow, and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust, which is what always happens when someone potentially interesting talks to me in the real world—especially if that person happens to be a guy. And up close, Julian is definitely interesting—though it makes my stomach churn spasmodically to even think the word to myself. People are dangerous, unpredictable. I know this implicitly, and every time I come into contact with them, I become a caged animal, a panther pacing back and forth behind steel bars, wary and agitated.
“Yeah,” I stammer, turning redder by the second and wishing that a manhole would just open up and swallow me whole. I look down at my black boots and scramble for something to say, my brain a jumble of images, none that entirely make sense. “Your pizza—I was just . . . hungry.”
The minute the words leave my lips, I know they are the truth. My stomach begins to growl loudly as if in agreement, and I look up into Julian’s amused face and laugh, my voice echoing in the street, too loud, even with the noise of a passing bus belching a thick cloud of black smoke. As the sound vibrates through me, jolting me into the present, I realize that it’s been forever since I’ve laughed at something legitimately funny or awkward without being prompted by the ingestion of some mind-altering substance. Still, I can’t quite turn off that ever-present voice inside my head, the one that holds up an invisible hand to stop me from going further, from moving closer.
People are dangerous . . .
“Well,” Julian says, laughing along with me and holding out a hand, “that’s remedied easily enough. C’mon.”
I stare at his hand, the long fingers, and look into his eyes, which I can now see are flecked with gold. I toss my apple core to the concrete and take hold of him, ignoring the voice that begins, even now, to protest more loudly, whispering like a flock of ruffled birds, Don’t touch, don’t trust. I draw a deep breath and follow him blindly across the street, unsure of where I’m being taken.
Interview with Jennifer Banash
Q. I know a lot of us are going to NYC next year for BEA, what tips would you give someone who’s never gone to the city?
Don’t take taxis–always use the subway! you’ll get where you need to go twice as fast.
Q. Can you share any fun stories about living in NYC?
I once threw up half of a lime on Cher–don’t ask 🙂 Also, I used to live next to the Hell’s Angels headquarters on the Lower East Side, and every July 4th, they would have a huge party where they would block off the street, build a grandstand, and have bands play heavy metal music all night long. The last July 4th I lived there, they got a bit too overzealous with the fireworks, and threw one in the courtyard of my apartment, shattering my glass door completely. The next morning around 9 AM, they politely knocked on my front door, gave me a coffee from the deli on the corner, and proceeded to fix my door with a new sheet of glass.
Q. In a time filled with dystopians and paranormals, what made you decide to write a more gritty coming-of-age tale?
Because I’m completely burned out on dystopians and paranormals, and I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way. The books that meant the most to me in my youth were always the coming-of-age stories, and the grittier the better–books like THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and LESS THAN ZERO.
Q. What can we expect from Cat as a protagonist?
Honesty, heartache, and, hopefully, redemption.
Q. What are your plans after White Lines?
I’m currently working on my next book, SILENT ALARM, which is about a school shooting in the Midwest, told through the eyes of the shooter’s 16 year old sister.
Jennifer Banash was born and raised in New York City. She now lives in Southern California with her beagle, Sigmund, and her vast collection of designer shoes. I am the author of the Young Adult novel, WHITE LINES, forthcoming from G.P Putnam and Sons in April, 2013, as well as the three-book series THE ELITE, published by Berkley Jam. which includes the titles THE ELITE, IN TOO DEEP, and SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE.