heather zenzen

words good, numbers bad

sam & haley


Sam’s dead best friend, Julia, isn’t really gone. She’s wound around his body and coated over his carbon heart, and she’s not going anywhere. She just wishes Sam knew that.

After getting kicked off the transplant list, Sam’s father takes his bionic son (and dead best friend) to Mabel Island, Virginia. Time-warpy Mabel Island is the perfect place for Haley and her mute little sister, Puppy, to hide.

Haley and Puppy have secrets. Impossible secrets. Secrets Haley conceals with a varnish of smiles and sweetness, exuberance and genius, chronic lies and slipping masks.

With Puppy in tow, Haley and Sam explore historic lighthouses and ice cream shops, salt marshes and beaches teeming with wild ponies. They wrestle upended snapping turtles and dodge pecking peacocks and protect their legs from a fluffy cat with a humping obsession.

As he falls for Haley, Julia wraps tighter around Sam, desperate for him to know she hasn’t left. But the tighter Julia holds on, the stronger Sam’s guilt and grief becomes.

Haley recognizes Sam’s grief. When she shares her own past, Sam finds the courage to share his. But then Julia’s grip slips.