Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag {Book Spotlight} @ChristinaHoag

 

 

 

"Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with."

 

NOVEL GIRL ON THE BRINK TELLS OF TEEN DATING VIOLENCE


 ‘Girl Power’ Overcomes Abusive Relationship in New Novel by Christina Hoag 

    
Author Christina Hoag’s compelling new novel Girl on the Brink aims to raise awareness among teens about abusive relationships. Through her characters Chloe and Kieran in a fictional New Jersey town, Hoag paints a vivid picture of the signs of an abusive relationship, the pattern of intimate violence (buildup, explosion, makeup) and how victims can safely get help. The novel is forthcoming from Fire and Ice YA, an imprint of Mélange Books, and will be available on Amazon and other leading booksellers on August 15, 2016 in ebook and paperback.

 

“A key part of what I wanted to do with Girl on the Brink is to show girls that they are not alone, and to encourage them to use their girl power and seek help to get out of the relationship,” Hoag says. “There’s such a sense of shame surrounding intimate partner violence.” 

 

The novel also portrays the emotional aftermath of such a relationship, when young women are vulnerable to falling back into the relationship or to harm by a vengeful abuser. The book ends on a positive message of life beyond an abusive relationship.

 

“It’s a painful topic, but one that we need to address with teenagers so they are less likely to fall into these relationships at any stage of life,” the author notes.

 

Reviewers say:


“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” -- Kirkus Reviews 

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

 

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge. 

 

 

The carnival sets up for two weeks every summer in a field outside town. Everyone goes. It’s something to vary Indian Valley’s monotonous diet of bowling, the single-screen movie theatre, miniature golf, and hanging out at the Dairy Cream.  

Kieran grabs my hand as we stroll into the fair. It’s a riot of dazzling lights, whirling rides and thumping music. I scan the crowd, hunting for Morgan and Jade, who I spot waiting for funnel cakes. 

“Hey, there are my friends.” I wave frantically at them with my free hand as I tug Kieran with the other. Morgan sees me, points me out to Jade and they both look my way. 

Kieran yanks my hand in the opposite direction. “We’ll catch up with them later.” 

“I want you to meet them. I told them all about you.”

“I just want to play my favorite game for you first.”

I can’t refuse. I let myself be pulled and make an apologetic face at them. Morgan’s expression hardens. She says something to Jade. The crowd swarms between us, and I lose sight of them. 

Kieran steers me to a shooting-at-moving-ducks game and grabs a rifle. He’s a good shot and soon wins a white teddy bear with a red satin heart sewn on its chest. He hands it to me.

“For you.” 

“Thank you. It’s adorable.” I proudly tuck it under my arm.

“Just like you. Hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Me, too.”

We make for the food concessions. “Carnival hot dogs are the best,” Kieran says. “The pizza and hamburgers blow.” 

“Totally,” I say as we line up.

We buy hot dogs slathered with relish—and root beer, of course—and sit at a picnic table. Kieran straddles the bench, patting the seat in front of him. I sit astride like him. He inches closer so our knees touch. 

“Open wide,” he orders, looking at my mouth. 

I obey. He feeds one end of the hot dog to me, then leans in and bites the other end. I crack up and almost choke.

“Don’t laugh,” which comes out something like “doan waf” through Kieran’s mouthful of hot dog. 

No hands, he chews, swallows and takes another bite. I do the same. We manage to eat the hot dog, and at the end, our lips touch. Kieran presses mine into a kiss. 

“So that’s why you like carnival hot dogs,” I say when we break apart. “To steal kisses.”

“Hey, I told you they were the best. Hold on, you have mustard on your face.” He swoops in and licks the side of my mouth. 

I wipe off his wetness. “Ew, Kieran!”

“Mmmm, salty.”

I giggle. He swoops in again and licks all around my mouth and lips. His tongue tickles, and I laugh as I shake my head, sucking in my lips, trying to get him off me as I crack up harder, which only encourages him. He slurps my cheeks and chin, and I try to recoil out of his reach, but he pulls me to him. Finally, he backs off and dabs my face with a napkin as I recover my breath.

“You’re worse than a puppy,” I say.

“Ruff, ruff.” He pants and holds up his hands like paws, then jumps to his feet, holding out his palm. “Come on. Time for rides.”

We run like it’s an emergency. 

“Cup of tea, Madam?” Kieran points to the tea cups, then pushes open the just-closing gate and leaps in a cup. 

We spin madly in the tea cups, chase, block and slam each other in the bumper cars, cling to each other in the haunted house. We finish with a ride on the Ferris wheel. 

It’s getting late, and the crowd has swelled with rowdy revelers who obviously made a pitstop at a bar before the carnival. 

“Let’s go,” Kieran says, after a guy, drunk or stoned, stumbles in front of us. 

“I really wanted you to meet my friends.” 

“We’ve got plenty of time for that. It gets nasty this time of night, a lot of fights.”

“Okay.” I give a last three-sixty turn in case Jade and Morgan appear. Kieran’s right. Cliques of older guys and girls hang around the perimeter, smoking and drinking from paper bags.

We swing our clasped hands as we walk to the parking lot. I wish the night would never end. When we get in the truck, he blasts the air conditioning and rolls down the windows. We pull out into the street, and as the AC chills, I close my window. Using his control, Kieran buzzes it down again.

“The AC’s on,” I say.

“I know, but doesn’t it feel great? To feel cold air and warm air at the same time?”

He accelerates. Bathtub-temperature air whooshes along the side of my body, while my chest is cooled by the AC. The combination feels luxurious.

“You’re right. It does feel great!”
He grins. “Told ya.”


“My mom would kill me for doing this.”

“That’s why you’re hanging with me, not with her.”

He snakes an arm over and slides off the elastic holding my ponytail. I shake my hair loose and let the wind whip it.

“That’s it, sweetpea, be free.”

 

ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE 


Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it. 

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Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, August 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. 

 

 

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