Hi everyone! Pop! Goes The Reader has been lucky enough to have been asked to host a number of truly beautiful cover reveals lately, and I feel so fortunate to be able to share another very special reveal with you on this lovely, if chilly, Monday. Today, I’m so thrilled to welcome author Sonia Hartl to the blog as we share the exclusive cover reveal for her 2019 debut, Have A Little Faith In Me, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the novel and a chance for two lucky winners to read advance reader copies! Please read on for all the details about this irresistible contemporary young adult novel coming to a book store and library near you September 3rd 2019 from Page Street Kids!
About Sonia Hartl
Sonia Hartl is a YA author who calls Michigan home, even though she’s lived in several different states. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s enjoying pub trivia, marathoning Disney movies, or taking a walk outside in the fall. She’s a member of SCBWI and the communications director for Pitch Wars. She has been published in The Writers Post Journal and Boston Literary Magazine. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two daughters.
Cover design by Kylie Alexander
Title Have A Little Faith In Me
Author Sonia Hartl
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date September 3rd 2019 by Page Street Publishing
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon ● The Book Depository
When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan — God’s or CeCe’s — goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.
Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul — is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.
If I hadn’t made such a big deal about my virginity, I might not have spent a valuable portion of my summer checking nosebleed tissues for images of Jesus. I blamed society. Virginity had always been viewed as this monumental thing, like you gave away a piece of yourself just because you got tired of saying “no” or curiosity got the better of you. A whole piece of your heart, soul, or whatever. That mentality is how I ended up poring over brochures for Camp Three SixTeen a week after my junior year ended.
Sun streamed in through my partially closed curtains, a single beam of light stretching across the Camp Three SixTeen pamphlet on my pillow. Some would’ve said it was a sign from God. In my mind, it was a way to get my ex-boyfriend back, and that single slant of sunlight was all the justification I needed. I put my feet up on the wall and let the row of wildflowers I’d tacked above my headboard tickle my toes. A few browning seeds clung to the end of a dandelion head, from the time Ethan had brought me to apuffy white field so I could make unlimited wishes. My mom called it my Garden of the Dead. My dad called them dust collectors, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of them. Without the flowers, I’d have nothing left from my relationship with Ethan, other than the empty place inside me that never stopped aching.
Camp Three SixTeen could make us right again though. Ethan always said he left camp feeling closer to God, and if I wanted to be with him, I had to get closer to God too.
I tucked the camp application into my top drawer, next to the condoms that claimed to be ribbed for my pleasure. A purchase I made a little too late. Ethan had broken up with me in order to restore his virginal heart before I could take them out of the Walgreens bag. Even though I didn’t need them for sex anymore, they could still be used for my pleasure. I peeked out my bedroom window, where my best friend, Paul, lay on his backyard trampoline, wearing his earbuds. Probably listening to a band I’d never heard of.
I ripped open one of the condom packages, filled the condom with water in my bathroom sink, and tied a knotaround the end. My window hadn’t had a screen since the night Paul had climbed a ladder to our second story so we could split our first beer.
I slid the glass open and launched the water condom toward the trampoline. “Incoming.”
The condom sailed over Paul’s head, hitting the grass behind him. It burst open. Damn. Not only had I missed, but I’d given away my position.
Paul pushed his sunglasses up on his head. “Weak!” he shouted. “Try again.”
He put his sunglasses back on and lay with his fingers linked over his chest. Like he wasn’t about to get a face full of water courtesy of Trojan.
I filled up a second condom, threw it out the window, and it burst six feet to the right of the trampoline. Paul faked a yawn. Now he was in for it. I filled up the last condom in the pack and stood at the window, my arm raised high above my head. Paul gestured for me to bring it on. As I was zeroing in on his smug expression, I hadn’t noticed his mom coming out onto the back patio. I let the condom fly, too far to the left, where it hit Paul’s mom smack on her shoulder and exploded.
She looked around for the source of her unexpected soaking while Paul rolled with laughter, safe and dry, on his trampoline. I debated ducking and hiding, but nothing got past Paul’s mom. She’d raised five boys and knew all the tricks. I gave her a sheepish wave.
She put her hands on her hips. “CeCe, what on earth are you doing?”
“Sorry, I was trying to hit Paul,” I said.
“In that case, carry on. I’m sure he deserved it.”
“Hey.” Paul sat up. “You’re my mom — aren’t you supposed to be on my side?”
“Sorry, kid. Girls have to stick together. I just made a fresh batch of lemonade,” she called up to me. “Come on over and have a glass.”
Paul’s mom was the best. I raced downstairs, letting my mom know I’d be next door as I passed by her in the living room. Once outside, the sun baked my shoulders, bringing out all the little freckles I only had in the summer. I’d tugged my long brown hair into a sloppy bun to keep my neck from sweating, and it flopped around on top of my head as I jogged over to Paul’s.
He pulled out his earbuds as he opened the back gate for me. “My mom is going to have a lot of questions if she discovers you weren’t throwing water balloons.”
“Who says balloons can’t be ribbed for her pleasure?”
“Ribbed for Her Pleasure would be a great band name.” He slung an arm over my shoulder. “Just so you’re prepared, even though you didn’t hit me, expect certain retaliation.”
“You have to catch me first.” I ducked out from under him and ran to the other side of his trampoline. “Because I’m fast. You’re no match for my catlike reflexes.”
“When’s the last time you beat me in a race?” He strolled around the edge of the trampoline. “Third grade?”
“And I’m still riding that high.” I side-shuffled to keep him on the opposite side.
“I let you win.” He picked up his pace.
“Oh really? Is that why you cried when you lost?”
Before I could get my feet to catch up with my brain, he pounced. He caught me around the waist and I hooked my leg under his, sending us both crashing onto the grass.
Light danced in his dark eyes as he pulled off a piece of broken condom that had clung to the front of my tank top. “One of these days I’m going to find a way to guard myself against your classic move.”
“Impossible. I’ve been perfecting it for years.”
Paul’s mom brought out a pitcher and two frosty mugs, setting them on the patio table. Paul jumped to his feet and helped me up. His palm already had callouses from helping his stepdad out at his flooring company for the last week.
We sat under his patio umbrella, which his stepdad had hooked up to spray mist on hot days, sipping lemonade while puffy clouds drifted across the lazy sky. Summer didn’t get any better than this. I’d miss hanging out with Paul for three weeks while I went to camp, but I had a plan to win Ethan back, and I wouldn’t be deterred.
Paul ran a hand through his shaggy dark hair. “My stepdad said we can help out at his Habitat for Humanity gig this summer, to get our community service hours in before we start senior year.”
“That’s cool of Brad, but I have a different plan.”
“What plan? You don’t plan.” He lifted his mug to his lips.
Here went nothing.“I’m going to Camp Three SixTeen.”
Paul choked on his lemonade, pounding on his chest as he coughed. “I’m sorry, what?”
“I’m not in yet, but I’m applying for their rising senior leadership program.” I picked at the flecks of purple polish left on my thumbnail from junior prom. “So. I’ll be getting my community service done there.”
“CeCe. No.” His forehead wrinkled between his brows, like it did whenever he worried over a chem exam or his latest breakup. “You have no idea what you’re getting into.”
Paul had gone to Camp Three SixTeen between eighth grade and freshman year, right before his pastor father left his mom for the half-his-age church secretary. Paul’s mom got on okay after he left. She was the toughest woman I’d ever met, and everything I aspired to be, minus the whole abandoned-after-five-kids-and-twenty-eight-years-of-marriage thing. Paul hadn’t taken it as well. He’d been the picture-perfect pastor’s son his whole life, but when his father left, he gave up church, God, and everything he’d ever believed in, finding his pleasures…elsewhere.
“I’m not going for Jesus; I’m going for Ethan,” I said. “And before you tell me this is ridiculous and won’t work, hear me out.”
“Ethan is a douchebag and not worth three weeks at that place. Trust me.” To say Paul wasn’t a fan of my ex-boyfriend would’ve been a huge understatement.
“Listen. It’s perfect.” I drew little hearts in the melting frost on my mug. “He said in order to become born-again, he had to end things because he couldn’t keep his hands off me.” Paul raised his eyebrows. “And you bought that piss-poor excuse?”
“Well.” I smiled to myself over my mug. “He really couldn’t keep his hands off me.”
“Since he’s claiming he’s a virgin again, does that make you a virgin again too? Because I’m pretty sure you didn’t have sex with yourself.”
“I don’t know.” I frowned. “Is that how it works?”
“No. That’s not how it works.” Paul ground his teeth. “He’s not a virgin and neither are you, and whatever line he fed you about being born-again is a bunch of bullshit.”
“You’re mad. Why are you mad? I know Christianity isn’t your cup of tea, but it’s Ethan’s.” Not that I’d known Jesus would be some kind of roadblock when we’d first started dating. “If I want to get him back, it has to be mine, too.”
“I’m not mad.” Paul rubbed his hands over his face. “I’m worried about you. What if you follow him to camp and he has another girlfriend already?”
“Ethan wouldn’t have another girlfriend.” My voice froze over. “He’s not you.”
Last month Paul had broken up withBree Newman before her red hair dye had washed out to a light pink, then shown up to a party with Sydney Lamb the next night. And I would’ve totally missed his fling with Ella Holt in between if she hadn’t bragged in the locker room about the ladyhead he’d given her after lacrosse practice. Paul meant more to me than anyone in the world, I’d defend him with my last breath, but secretly I had no clue why all these girls tried with him in the first place. He didn’t do meaningful or long-term relationships.
“Isn’t that a blessing?” Paul’s tone matched mine. “But let’s assume Ethan isn’t like me. What happens if you go to camp and get him back? Will you start going to church, quoting Scripture, carrying a Bible around?”
“I could suffer through church. What’s an hour out of my day once a week?”
“Suffering is exactly what you’d be doing. For a guy who doesn’t care enough to value you for who you are. I don’t know what you think that is, but it’s not love.”
“That’s mean.” I hadn’t expected Paul to be all rah-rah about my plan, given his feelings about Christianity, but I hadn’t expected him to be so harsh about it either.
“No, that’s truth.” He stood, grabbing the pitcher and his mug. “You better get comfortable with it, because you’re in for one hell of a rude awakening.” He went into his house, slamming the patio door shut behind him.
So much for winning the support of my best friend. Not that I should’ve expected him to understand. Paul breezed through girlfriends, never getting close enough to get hurt. He didn’t know what it felt like to give yourself completely to someone, or how bottomless the pain could be when they gave it all back and walked away. If I didn’t act, I’d sit and stew in all my ugly feelings. Ethan told me exactly why he ended our relationship. As far as I was concerned, that was an open door. All I had to do was fake my way through a few weeks at Jesus camp.
Seemed simple enough to me.
As an extra, exciting bonus, Page Street Kids has been kind enough to offer two lucky readers the opportunity to win advance reader copies of Have A Little Faith In Me! Two winners will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Page Street Kids when ARCs become available. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!