Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. When a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.
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This story was adorable. Right from the start I could tell Luke was a teen I could relate to and wanted to see happy. His friends are so amazingly supportive and his budding relationship with Eddie was beautiful. The storytelling pulled me in and didn’t let me go.
Eddie was a fabulous character that was shrouded in a tiny bit of mystery and mysticism. Throughout the story you could tell there was a little bit of magic behind Eddie. Some of it you could tell was Luke’s starry eyed smittenness. But the rest was all the mystery of Eddie. I adored how vibrant and full of life Eddie was. He was unashamed of who he was and didn’t care too terribly much what others thought of him. I felt for him and some of the things he had to put up with from the school jerk. But overall Eddie was someone I would love to spend time with and be friends with.
Luke was beautifully written. He was tentative at times and so insecure. He was devoted to his friends and you could tell he was genuinely torn about what to do about telling them things. He constantly worked to try and make the right choices and make things right for those around him. It may not have worked out how he wanted at times but at least in his mind he was helping. His pure heart was such a great part of him. His emotions in regards to his feelings for Eddie came through loudly as I read. I felt them with Luke.
These two together are lovely and I adored watching them slowly work towards being together. The storyline with Luke’s Hold powers was completely fascinating. The descriptions of how it feels to Luke and how he perceives his ability were on point and I could visualize what Luke was thinking and feeling. I was intrigued on the why and the how but ultimately they wound up being not important. There’s a big question mark on one time aspect of the story that plays a pretty big role in fixing some things. But the unknown felt like it had a purpose and also wasn’t something the characters could regularly find out. I adored Dee and Marcus. I would love to see more stories with all of these characters. I want to see them grow up into adults that stay friends and continue to support each other into old age. I would love for Marcos to have his own story and I need to read it the moment it comes out.
Four and a half
I am very excited to have Luke stop by today. He’s here to talk about what romance means to him. His response is wonderful. I hope you like it as much as I do. Read and enjoy!
Hi. Um. I don’t know if this really answers the question, but this is what I thought of first.
Two years ago, I officially came out to my mom. I sat on the edge of my mom’s bed and blurted out this speech that didn’t sound anything like the one I practiced in my head. I thought she might cry, in a happy way, but she went all philosophical on me. She put on her wisdom-of-the-ages face, and honestly, I was just glad she didn’t want to talk about sex. For a while she sat there, with that look, like she was trying to pull deep thoughts out of thin air, until she got up and made me search for a quote that her friend Linda posted on facebook. When I finally found the right one, she slammed her hands down on my shoulders and made me read it out loud— with feeling.
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other,” it read, “but in looking outward together in the same direction.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Yeah, I don’t know what it means either. I screwed up the name and she didn’t know who Antoine de Saint-Exupery might have been, but she wouldn’t shut up about how it was the most on-the-mark quotation she ever heard about love— gay, straight, or none of the above.
“Find a nice boy who wants to look the same way as you do, and you’ll be just fine,” she said. Then she shoved me off the bed and told me to set the table for dinner. What the hell, right?
I was going to forget about it, but then the line wouldn’t leave me alone. That night, I tried to go to sleep and I couldn’t stop thinking about what it all meant. “Looking outward in the same direction” sounded good, but what if two people are so busy looking away that they forget to look back? Did it still count as together if one person didn’t look at all?
When I read it and she got all teary, I didn’t think to ask what it felt like to look together. Maybe there was a sensation that let you know that you were sharing space with someone else’s line of sight, or maybe people in love just developed really rock star peripheral vision. Either way, it sounded like standing on the top of a building with someone else, looking out over the edge onto a city, and knowing we could take over the world.
That was two years ago, but, I don’t know, when anybody talks about love I still think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
As he entered the junior commons, Luke almost stepped on a pair of shoes. The girl wearing them found her way around him and scowled under her breath as Luke leaned against the nearest wall. He was going to look teary-eyed and breakable no matter what. Along the edges he couldn’t do more damage, and that’s where he caught the flash of blue. It was on the wall next to the boy’s bathroom.
The poster, held up by Scotch tape, announced the theater department’s Spring Review in the same color and font they’d used when Luke was nine. Ten years from now they would probably still perform Shakespearian tragedies and Oklahoma. This year, they were doing 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but he didn’t care about that. He cared about the names of the tech crew written across the bottom of the poster. That was their spot, his and Marcos Aldama’s and Dee’s. For a year and a half, since they’d been trusted to not to electrocute themselves, they’d run tech for every production this school had bothered to stage. Dee was supposed to be the stage manager, Marcos was supposed to be on sound and he was supposed to be on sets.
But he wasn’t there.
He found Dee’s and Marcos’s names right where they were supposed to be, and then there was a third name. He’d been replaced by Neil Vargassi. Vargassi? Luke had last heard that name when he’d found out that “that Vargassi kid” had fallen off the stage during warm ups and had had to be sent to the emergency room.
Luke read the poster three times with his hand pressed against the wall beside it. The wall wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t sure about anything else.
They wouldn’t—He read it again. But of course, they would. He’d been gone a month at the beginning of the spring semester with no explanation. Of course they would have found someone to take his place, and he’d had the easiest tech job in the world. He wasn’t irreplaceable, but he’d never thought—
He turned away from the poster and made himself move, as the sickness slid into his gut. It pooled in a sludge below his navel, like a toxic spill, and his body wanted it gone, but there were people going in and out of the bathroom. There were people everywhere.
Luke clasped his hand over his mouth. On his right, the door to a dark classroom sat ajar. He threw himself inside, grabbed the trashcan by the door and gagged until his eyes watered. Nothing came up. He couldn’t even make himself puke. He couldn’t do anything but make people feel sorry for him.
Luke crouched at the closed door with his back flat against the metal kick plate, and pressed his fingers against his temples until pain blossomed under his skin. His stomach turned.
I can’t make it stop, because I shouldn’t be here anymore.
He closed his eyes against the empty classroom, the dirty book jackets and the kick marks on the legs of the chairs.
I should be gone. It should have been me.
Luke pushed himself to his feet and tasted tears. His phone rang in his backpack again and again. He had to answer it because it could have been his mom, but his hands couldn’t remember how. He pulled at the zipper on the front of his bag, but it wouldn’t give. He couldn’t make it move. He tried again and, before he knew what he was doing, he hit it. He hit the bag over and over again until it crunched under his fists. He punched grooves into the plastic lining and ripped holes in the straps.
The holes were real. He made them. The fabric tore under his hands. He made that happen. But the phone wouldn’t stop ringing—four, five, six—and, as he gasped for air, he lifted the backpack and heaved it across the room like a grenade.
Luke turned away, closed his eyes and waited for it to smash against the far wall. He waited and listened for the crunch and the snap, but it never came. His bag never hit the floor.
Rachel Davidson Leigh is a teacher, a writer and an avid fan of young adult LGBTQ ction. Her hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and playing matchmaker with book recommendations. Currently, she lives in Wisconsin with her family and two neurotic little dogs. Hold is her debut novel. Her short story “Beautiful Monsters” was featured in Summer Love, a collection of short stories published by Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.
Connect with author Rachel Davidson Leigh at racheldavidsonleigh.com; on Twitter @rdavidsonleigh; and on Facebook at facebook.com/rdavidsonleigh/
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Thank you so much for having me today! I’m happy to answer questions if any readers would like to leave them in the comments!
Definitely my pleasure to have you!