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Opening section of chapter 1:Darkness falls so quickly I don’t have time to find the hole in the tire on my sister’s bike. Lacking either a flashlight or a patch, we’ll have to continue on foot all the way back to our house, about an hour and a half from the edge of the dark forest we’re now in. “I think a car’s coming,” says Sasha, on all fours with her ear to the ground. I try it too, but can’t hear anything besides some owls hooting. “We’re not getting into a stranger’s car,” I tell her. “Even if it’s Mike Archer?”“Who?”“You know, the paleontologist who believes he can bring extinct species back to life. ”Even though I secretly love that idea, I know I have to be the responsible one. Otherwise my little sister would get herself kidnapped by the first man who comes along, scientist or not. “What does he look like?”“I don’t know,” she admits. “Well, what if it’s John Green or Quentin Tarantino—then can we?”“Sash, we don’t know them personally, we couldn’t get into their car. ”“You’d ruin my chance to meet a genius?”“More likely I’d ruin your chance to end up in the belly of the big bad wolf. Okay?”She turns, mumbling something I can’t hear. When a sleek black car appears on the horizon, her arms immediately shoot up and she waves them over her head. The car comes to a stop a few meters ahead of us. “Oh, brilliant!” I mutter, annoyed. “Come over here and please stay calm, whatever happens. ”I grab her hand as the door opens.


Should you get into the car of someone you barely know? Hard to resist when the driver is Jessup Smith, the handsomest teacher in school. That night, he drives sixteen-year-old Phoenix and her little sister Sasha – both brilliant misfits – home. A few days later, their mother, Erika, lets herself be seduced by Mr. Smith. Not long after, he's moving in, filling the empty space left by Phoenix and Sasha's father, who left the family without warning last summer. At first, Mr. Smith seems too good to be true. He can be a little strict and controlling, sure, but nothing to worry about. Until it begins: first a kick, then a slap. Soon Phoenix is descending into a violent nightmare, afraid of making the least mistake and desperate to protect her little sister. As Phoenix and Sasha feel their world closing in, help may come from an unexpected place.


Review quotes for the French edition (all quotes translated from French):“The heart of the novel is dark and realistic, focusing on the effects on the two girls … Subtly written and extremely gripping. ”—Ricochet-jeunes. org“Nastasia Rugani writes masterfully, creating an incredibly dramatic atmosphere and an attachment between the reader and Phoenix . .. the novel really puts the reader in the situation. ”—sophielit. caAwards for the French edition:Epopée prize, 2015Special prize awarded by the libraries of Asnières, France, 2015Literary prize chosen by high-school students of Hérault, France, 2015The book is also shortlisted for several literary awards in France to be announced in 2016.