Spotlight On: Foreign Exchange, by Denise Jaden

Foreign Exchange
Denise Jaden
Evernight Teen Contemporary/Mystery

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer.

 

Buy Links:   Evernight Teen    Amazon

Excerpt:
Hi,” I say when I find Sawyer at his locker. My face is beaming like someone plugged me into a wall socket.
“Jamie.” He smiles back, but his eyes are rimmed with red like he’s really tired. “Have you heard from my sister again?”
Not exactly the topic of conversation I’d hoped for. I nod. “I got another email. She got to Milan fine and is settling in.”
Sawyer pulls out his phone. He looks at me, then at his phone, then back at me again.
“She’s…everything’s okay with the exchange program?” he asks. His words are tentative.
“Tristan’s fine, Sawyer. She says the schoolwork is going to be harder than expected because of not speaking Italian, but otherwise she’s great. She loves Europe.” He looks at his phone again. I put my hand out. “Here, you want me to show you the email?”
He hands me his phone. It takes me a minute to figure out how to log in through his browser, but I hope I can put his mind at rest. My email is coming up on the screen when the first bell rings. I have English first class and my teacher’s a real stickler about tardiness. I glance down the hall toward my locker.
“You go,” Sawyer says, his palm open for his phone. “I’ll look it over and see you in class later. Okay?”
“I—” I’m not sure what to say. Tristan’s been talking about finding my dad in her emails. It’s our big secret and she’d been adamant about not sharing it with anybody. But I think I can trust Sawyer. And, after all, it is my secret to keep. If I’m making a mistake it’ll only hurt me. “Okay,” I say, finally, passing his phone back to him. Our fingers brush against each other, but we don’t have time to let them linger.
By the time I get to English, I’m thinking of another problem. Tristan hadn’t wanted me to tell anyone about her modeling over there. I’ll have to tell Sawyer not to mention it.
When I dash into class later, Sawyer’s already seated in his usual seat with his head down. He’s flipping through something on his phone, and again I think about signing him into my email earlier. Instead of feeling nervous, after having some time to think about it, trusting him makes me feel closer to him. Like we share our private emails with each other all the time.
“Hey.” I sit down beside him.
He finishes typing something, and then shoves his phone away before Mr. Echols catches sight of it. “Hey,” he says finally, smiling over at me. He still looks really tired.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
He blinks a few times, looking down, and I wonder if he isn’t okay. Is something really wrong? “Do you…” he trails off and seems to rethink what he’s saying. “Do you think with the program… do you think everything’s okay about that? I don’t know what’s going on, but maybe…I mean, I think maybe Tristan’s over there trying to model.”
I swallow hard. This is the moment of truth, where I have to decide how much I can trust him.
But his pause is barely long enough for me to open my mouth. “I need to get on that class trip, Jamie. I need to stop my sister from doing anything stupid.”
A host of emotions rush through me. Fear, anger, betrayal.
“Wait, what?” I ask him. “You’re going to try to get on the class trip so you can interfere with Tristan’s dream?” Tristan’s told me how jealous he can be. How he’s done this before.
Sawyer looks over at me with wide eyes, like he can’t believe I’m calling him out on it.
Mr. Echols interrupts us, starting class, but I’m too upset to pay attention to a single word he’s saying.
Sawyer passes me a note halfway through class.
I’m seriously worried about my sister, Jamie. I have to tell you more about the program. Just hear me out. Please?
I keep my eyes from Sawyer for the rest of class. I’m sure he knows I’m angry, but he doesn’t try to talk to me again, at least for now. I’m even angry at myself for getting so caught up in my feelings for him and not noticing all the things that Tristan’s warned me about.
“Foreign Exchange is a fresh contemporary YA that will keep readers compulsively turning pages until the very end. Combining international intrigue with a steamy forbidden romance
makes for a can’t miss read.”
 – Eileen Cook  Author of Year of Mistaken Discoveries.
“Great contemporary/mystery combo!”
Shanyn Day, Book Blogger, Chickloveslit.com
“A pitch perfect voice and delicious chemistry between the characters kept me turning those pages!”
Tara Kelly, author of Amplified and Encore
Foreign Exchange is heart pounding and suspenseful…the teenage dream of escaping the boredom of suburbia by travelling Europe and spending quality time with a hot guy shifts into a dangerous nightmare.
D.R. Graham, author of Rank and the Noir et Bleu MC series.
Author Denise Jaden
Denise Jaden’s novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith (Simon & Schuster), was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007 and she loves talking with writers and students alike about her Just-Get-To-The-End fast-drafting process. Jaden’s other young adult novels include Never Enough (Simon & Schuster) and    Foreign Exchange (Evernight Teen, 2014).
Her first non-fiction book for writers, Writing with a Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction, includes a variety of clear guidance and practical exercises to help writers get to the heart of their stories. Her second non-fiction book, Fast Fiction (New World Library) includes tips on constructing a story plan that works, as well as daily inspiration to keep writers writing, regardless of when the mood strikes.

Find out more about Denise and her books at http://www.DeniseJaden.com or on Twitter @denisejaden.

Praise for Denise Jaden’s Wriing:

“In her sophomore novel, Jaden (Losing Faith) offers an intimate and enlightened rendering of anorexia and bulimia…Loann’s fight against forces that might be beyond her control is both harrowing and inspiring. While Jaden does not provide simple answers for the problems presented, she dramatically illustrates the importance of speaking out and reaching out.”

– Publishers Weekly

 

“A poignant, important book, Never Enough tackles self-esteem and body image issues while always remaining true to its three-dimensional characters. Denise Jaden has created a cliché-free zone filled with hurt, heart, and personal strength. Jaden’s tender sympathy for her characters and dedication to honest storytelling shine through every page.”

—C.K. Kelly Martin, author of I Know It’s Over

 

“This thoughtful first novel explores early grief and shows how it can tear at the structure of a family that cannot mourn together…. [R]eaders are taken on a ride through a secret world of religious zeal gone haywire….With pitch-perfect portrayals of high school social life and a nuanced view into a variety of Christian experiences of faith, this first novel gives readers much to think about.”

-School Library Journal

 

“Losing Faith is a remarkable first novel.”

-CM Magazine

Giveaway:  $25 Evernight Teen Gift Card

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