PW #330: Young Adult Contemporary: WE ARE EMBERS

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Amy Trueblood
Mentee: Ashley D. MacKenzie
Category: Young Adult:
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 62,000


When fire destroys Zeida and Micah’s apartment, the sisters must choose between homelessness or an offer that means abandoning their mom. While the choice seems clear to pragmatic Zeida, she gives Micah one day to raise the funds to keep their family together.



I tap the heart under the picture before I even look at it.

I mean, I can’t not like it. My friends are at freaking Laila Winston, and they’ve been live-posting the concert all night – standing in line, making faces at the opening band, Laila holding her guitar. All of it.

The mattress groans as I roll onto my back. It’s a special kind of torture to watch my girls have fun in real-time and know in another life, I could have gone with them.

That, even now, I maybe, possibly, could have gone tonight.

My phone beeps a warning and I shove my earbuds deeper into my ears, as if blaring the pop-rock princess while looking at what I’m missing could keep my battery from dying. But the app snaps to black and Laila’s voice cuts off.

I pull my earbuds out and listen. No signs of life leak through my door – not even a cough. I drop my legs over the edge of the bed and my hand finds the soft hairs at the back of my neck. I twist them around my finger again and again until I can convince my legs to take me out of the safety of my bedroom.

My sister looks up from her books on the kitchen table when I crack the door to our shared room. Her highlighter stalls mid-stroke.

The doorknob digs into my hand. “Sorry, Zeida.”

Zeida’s jaw ticks and her eyes send a practiced warning. “Mom’s home.”

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