MENTOR: Mónica Bustamante Wagner

MENTEE: Rachel Coleman



WORD COUNT: 75,000



After eighteen-year-old Gideon disables his girlfriend, Lilly, in a car accident, his life spins out of control and he ends up in rehab. But when his mom falls ill, he leaves treatment early to keep his siblings out of foster care. White-knuckling sobriety while taking care of his family proves difficult. First, there’s the new girl in town, who becomes another addiction, and second, Lilly’s father, the sheriff, wants revenge. He plans to murder Gideon himself. Now Gideon must choose between giving his siblings the life they deserve and saving his own.



My therapist Marie pushes the phone across her desk toward me. “Avoidance is a coping mechanism, Gideon.”

I flick the cap of the Sharpie I stole from her and force my thumb still so she won’t psychoanalyze me, but the high-voltage energy in me has to go somewhere. It pulses downward and now my leg won’t quit bouncing. The swish of my jeans moving against the leather couch echoes around the office.

Up, down. Faster, faster. Stop. Just stop it. Hold still. But I can’t.

“Calling home is part of your recovery. Are you in recovery or not?”

No, Marie, I want to say, I just thought New Life Recovery Center was the perfect spot for an extended vacation. She’s never going to stop bugging me about this. I grab the phone receiver and dial my family’s number before losing my nerve.

“Hello?” a breathless voice I don’t recognize answers.

“I must have the wrong number,” I say.

Seconds before I disconnect, the voice whispers, “Gideon?”

“Who is this?”

“It’s Rebekah. Where are you? Are you coming home?” My sister’s still whispering. Her voice has changed—of course it has after all this time—but it’s more than that. There’s an edge to her words that has me sliding forward on the couch.

2 comments to PW-20 (YA): SCAPEGOAT

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