Win a copy of Mindi Scott’s Freefall! Details at the end of this post.

Just when I’m starting to think she might be dead or something, the phone rings. I lunge for it, banging my shin on the coffee table and sending Mom’s ashtray tumbling to the floor. Ashes scatter on the burnt-orange carpet.


No answer.

“Mom?” I say again.

“Hello, there.” It’s a man’s voice, low and fakey-smooth. At first I’m scared it’s Drake. Then he says, “I’m calling from Rainier Collection Services. Is this Ms. J. Calhoun?”

I put on my politest voice. “Sorry, you must have the wrong number.” Then I set the receiver down with a click and remind myself for the zillionth time not to answer without checking the caller I.D. Sinking onto the couch, I study the new bruise on my shin, just above my ankle bracelet Mom made me for my birthday last year. I don’t know what I’m getting myself so worked up for. Mom has had to work late plenty of times.

I close my eyes and listen. It’s almost eleven, and the only sounds are the thunk our kitchen clock makes and the swoosh of cars hydroplaning through the lake-size puddle in the street outside. I keep waiting for one of those cars to stop and Mom to come swooping into the apartment with her jasmine-and-cigarette smell and her “Hey, honey pie, you still awake?” and her big, husky laugh. But the cars just roll on by.

I’m kind of wishing the Professor would call, take my mind off Mom.

Excerpt copyright © 2011 Helen Landalf

About the book:

Stevie is used to taking care of herself. But one night her mom never comes home from the club. That’s the night Stevie’s life turns upside down. It’s the night that kicks off an extraordinary summer: the summer she has to stay with annoyingly perfect Aunt Mindy; the summer she learns to care for injured and abandoned birds; the summer she gets to know Alan, the meanest boy in high school.

But most of all, it’s the summer she finds out the truth about Mom.

What people are saying:

Flyaway is so good I read it in one sitting. I had intended to set it aside for later, but I read the first sentence, and then the next, and by then it was too late; I was hooked!”– Han Nolan, National Book Award winner

“Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Jay Asher: Prepare to fall in love with debut novelist Helen Landalf. Filled with bighearted love and gritty realism, Flyaway rings with bittersweet truth.”–Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful

Released: December 20, 2011

About the author: 

Helen Landalf is a debut novelist. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, where she’s also a Pilates instructor and children’s dance teacher. She has two stepsons. You can visit her at


Helen has been kind enough to contribute a paperback copy of another powerful contemporary realistic novel for a giveaway: Mindi Scott’s Freefall!

Just comment on this post to enter.

For extra entries:

-Be a follower of this site (just click “Join this site”) or a follower on Twitter [+1 entry each].

-Link to this contest on Twitter, Facebook, etc. [+1 entry per each link].

Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US and Canada, and ends on December 28th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!