Shelly Frank lives a lie inside a beautifully landscaped New Jersey home. Her mother suffers from hoarding disorder, turning the inside of the house into a vile nest of cast offs, books, and old pizza boxes. Depressed by the secret life she leads, Shelly lives for the moments she gets to spend with her boyfriend, Joshua, the only person who knows about her hidden secret life.
The summer of her senior year, her father confesses the truth about why he left and sends her a lifeline: a one-way plane ticket to his home in Florida. Shelly is terrified to leave her agoraphobic mother home alone but knows her father’s gift might be the only way to save herself. With Joshua’s promise to attend college in Florida that fall, Shelly leaves for her father’s house.
There she attempts to resurrect her relationship with her father, learning he left Shelly behind when her mother threatened suicide if he fought for custody. Shelly and her father gradually come to terms with the past and her mother’s declining mental state, but Shelly’s health spirals until she lands in the hospital for emergency surgery. As she recovers with Joshua by her side, Shelly decides the only way to survive her illness and help her mother overcome her condition is to expose the terrible secrets about her childhood. Will her father’s support and Joshua’s love be enough to help Shelly save her mother and survive the life that nearly buried her alive?
Kelly Ann Hopkins is the author of Misled (coming 2021) and Buried Beneath (coming 2022). She spends her days as a high school librarian and creative writing teacher, where she challenges her students to read with abandon. When she’s not creating perilous adventures for her characters, she is dreaming of her next trip to the Florida Gulf Coast. Kelly lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and too many books.