Chapter One

“Oh. My. God. My parents are so going to kill me.”

I couldn’t take my eyes away from the mirror in Mario’s House of Hair. The alien landscape that was now my head seemed to hypnotize me. Taunt me. And tell me what a complete idiot I was for having done this.

My best friend, Beth Pizzano, gave me no sympathy.

“Stop it, Lucy. You know you look hot.”

I don’t know how Beth could judge how hot I looked because she was busy adjusting her tank top so that it revealed even more of her chest. Until she could charge implants on her $1,000 limit VISA card, she constantly observed, adjusted and overly-obsessed about that part of her anatomy. Much like I did about my hair. The dark brown, almost black, canopy I had just deliberately obliterated in total defiance of my mother’s refusal to let me get highlights.

“I’m not thinking about whether I look hot or not. I’m wondering whether my parents will notice if I walk around the house wearing a paper bag on my head for the next year.”

The grandmaster of my new look appeared beside me. With his black, shiny hair pulled into a ponytail and a wide grin pulling at his face, he reminded me of some sleazy magician ready to make me disappear. I wish.

Excerpt © 2010 Nelsa Roberto


About the book:

When seventeen-year-old Lucy do Amaral comes home with newly bleached blonde hair she expects a major lecture and another grounding from her strict Portuguese parents. What she doesn’t expect is the shocking news that her parents are illegal aliens who’ve just been told they’re being deported in less than a week. Lucy’s furious at her parents and has no intention of leaving her boyfriend and missing prom and grad to go live in some backwater village with no cable, no movie theatre and no life in some country she knows nothing about.

But, as Lucy discovers, intentions and reality are sometimes worlds apart – or, in Lucy’s case, at least an ocean away. Lucy’s desperation to return to her ‘real’ home ensnares her in a web of illegal activity that threatens more than her journey home. But it’s when she unexpectedly falls for a guy whose connection to his home is centuries old that she finally realizes you can never really run away from your roots – not even if you bleach them.

What people are saying:

“Roberto’s firm grasp of dialogue and understanding of teenage feelings makes this a good addition to young people’s fiction.” –Winnipeg Free Press

“The dialogue and Lucy’s interior self-talk is absolutely excellent. Because Roberto has captured perfectly the vocabulary, tone and emotions of the characters, the story flies by with the reader eagerly turning pages. From the rigid upper middle class kitchen of Joel’s parents to the cramped home of Lucy’s loving relatives, the settings not only reflect the characters’ values but also evoke a palpable love of Portuguese culture. Exceptional descriptions of the land and village in Portugal are woven seamlessly into the plot. The themes of controlling one’s impulsivity and supporting one’s family ahead of one’s immediate desires will not be lost on the intended reader.” Recommended. -Joan Marshall, CM Magazine.

“It’s refreshing to see a Portuguese-Canadian protagonist in YA fiction and Lucy do Amaral is an appealing newcomer … author Nelsa Roberto has taken a true story from the news headlines (about Portuguese-Canadians deported when their citizenship was called into question) and skillfully crafted an enjoyable and well-written tale. Lucy do Amaral is a welcome addition to the YA scene.” -Gillian O’Reilly, Canadian Children’s Book Centre News (Summer 2010)

Released: March 2010 from Great Plains Publications

About the author:

Nelsa Roberto is a mild-mannered civil servant by day and a ferocious teen-fiction writer/hockey mom/van driver by night. Born in a remote logging community in northern Ontario, Nelsa spent much of her youth in a small, rural farming community in southern Ontario before moving to Windsor, Ontario to earn her combined Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communication Studies.

Nelsa lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three children and a slightly hyperactive Golden Retriever, and is busy writing – mostly on the subway and at hockey arenas – her next young adult novel.