Everything I Knew to be True
by Rayna York
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 12th 2019
It was never easy for Cassie and her mother, struggling to make ends meet in their tiny apartment in The Bronx, but they had each other and that was enough. When her mother dies suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer, Cassie is forced to finish high school in California while living with the wealthy family of her mother’s closest friend—a women she never knew existed.
Living with the Stantons is the complete opposite of what she’s used to—the massive house, a father figure, and Cody, the spoiled, insanely good-looking son with the bedroom across the hall.
Broken with grief and struggling to fit in, Cassie meets Mila, a female powerhouse that helps her cope with a hidden past, the overwhelming present, and a shared experience no one should have to endure—a nightmare they both thought was over.
Warning: Although this book is classified as Young Adult, I recommended it for mature readers due to explicit language.
I stare in numb silence at my mother’s casket, waiting to be lowered into its final resting place. Everything happened so fast, I’ve hardly had a chance to process it all.
A spilt second image of Mom sitting at our tiny kitchen table flashes through my mind—that’s where we’d catch up on the daily grind. She had so many outrageous customers, Maria’s antics, her daily goof-ups, but I guess that comes with being a waitress for thirteen years.
I know she tried hard to hide it from me—I can see that now. It started with her being tired all the time and then throwing up constantly—the weight loss was staggering. When she finally went to the doctor, they diagnosed her with stage IV pancreatic cancer. They gave her three to six weeks to live. Her name was Allora, and I still can’t believe she’s gone.
“Cassie?” Roxanne gently places a hand on my shoulder. “Are you ready?”
I look around, momentarily confused. There were so many people here. Where did they go?
I guess I’ve been pretty out of it the last couple of days, which is understandable considering. I swallow hard against the emotional lump that’s jammed in my throat and tell her I need another minute.
“Okay,” she replies solemnly. “I’ll wait for you by the car. Take your time.”
There’s only a marker now. I guess the headstone comes later; at least that’s what they tell me.
I leave for California tonight. Mom made arrangements for me to live with her closest friend—a person I never even knew existed until two weeks ago. I’d always assumed that Mom had grown up in New York—it’s where her parents lived before they died. Apparently, I was wrong.
I begged her to let me stay here with Luigi and Maria—they’re like family. At least then some things would have remained the same. Instead, she insisted I live with Roxanne and her family.
We drive back to the apartment so I can get my stuff. “I won’t be long,” I tell Roxanne, leaving her at the door looking bewildered. I feel bad being thrust on her like this. She doesn’t even know me, and now I’m going to live with her. She seems fine with it, but still.
I can’t believe how empty the place seems. Yeah, all our stuff’s gone, but it’s more than that. Mom was my best friend—my only friend. She made this dinky little hole-in-the-wall a home, made every day special no matter how hard things got—and there were some pretty tough times. How am I going to start over without her?
I step in to the tiny sunroom and stare out one of the many windows with my arms wrapped tightly around me. Mom surprised me on my thirteenth birthday when she turned it into an art studio. She built shelves and lined them with jars of paintbrushes, pens, and pencils. She even placed an easel in the corner next to the wall of windows, with blank canvases stacked next to it. I know it cost her a lot of money—money we didn’t have to spare—but it was an amazing gift. Art was everything to me.
Now the walls are bare, the colorful murals painted over with coats of white paint, easily erasing all that I was—all that we were.
“Cassie, honey. I’m sorry, but we really have to go if we’re going to make our flight.”
I look over my shoulder at Roxanne, holding my small suitcase in her hands. “Yeah. Okay.” I cross the room and pick up the backpack sitting at her feet, sling it over my shoulder, and take one last look around before closing the door on the only life I’ve ever known.
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About the Author
Rayna York grew up with hippie parents that liked to adventure, so being the new kid was always a challenge. Where change was the norm, books were her constant–a way to escape. As an adult, many careers came and went, but writing has always been her passion. Everything I knew to be true is her first published novel.
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