Read an excerpt from Searching for Normal by C. J. Darlington #yalit #christianfiction #newbook @tyndalehouse

Welcome! I'm sharing an excerpt from this contemporary YA today. Read it below...

Searching for Normal
(Riverbend Friend #2)
By C. J. Darlington
Christian YA Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 256 Pages
April 6, 2021 by Focus on the Family Publishing


Searching for Normal is the second book in a series that travels alongside four friends as they deal with teen life in Riverbend, Indiana. The novel inspires girls and young women to deepen their relationships with God and solve their problems in God-honoring ways.

Six months ago Shay Mitchell’s life changed forever. Now she’s just trying to survive school bullies, drama class, and living with her Aunt Laura above the bookstore. No one, not even her new friends, knows her real story or the reason she’s living with her aunt in the first place.

When Shay learns the truth about her biological father, she jumps at the chance to meet him. This could be her chance! Maybe she’ll finally find the normal life she’s longed for―a life where she feels loved and wanted―you know, part of a real family.

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Chapter 1

I wished my grandmother would yell at me. Or say something. Even a scolding about how I needed to stop slouching or speak up or quit being so sensitive would’ve been better than the icy silence that filled the SUV. So I stayed quiet too, watching the green street signs pass by us in the darkness and listening to the squeaky windshield wipers keep rhythmic time. Grams didn’t have to say a word to convey her disappointment. The silence screamed what she couldn’t say: Shay Mitchell, you’re a loser.

I glanced over at the older woman, her graying hair coiffed and styled like she was heading to a gala at the country club rather than pawning off her granddaughter. I’d been staying off and on with my Aunt Laura since school started, but now it was going to be official. My grandparents had made that very clear. Screw up like I had, and you end up alone. Or at least out of their house.

When we were nearly at the bookstore my aunt owned, I almost spoke up. Wouldn’t speaking my mind be better than holding everything inside? That’s what my friend Amelia would definitely say. And Izzy and Tessa would probably agree too, though Tessa might at least understand why I was regularly labeled shy. But people who called me that usually didn’t understand I was often quiet just because it sometimes took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say. By the time I did, everyone else had usually moved on. I wasn’t antisocial. I just needed to socialize with the right people. People who got me. Unfortunately, most didn’t.

“Did you pack your Bible?”

I closed my eyes for a second before waving toward the back seat currently loaded with my meager belongings. “I packed everything.”

“Well, you seem to have forgotten everything your dad taught you.”

In my heart I tried to remember that even though I’d lost my dad six months ago, she’d lost her only son. Her callousness made sense, but it didn’t hurt any less.

“Your aunt’s sacrificing a lot to take you in.”

Like Grams hadn’t told me that about a million times in the last week.

I shrugged.

My grandmother shook her head.

About the sum of our relationship these days. I could barely remember the fun Christmases where we’d trek to the tree farm and cut down our own tree and my grandfather made his famous eggnog even my dad couldn’t replicate. Or every year on my birth- day when we’d all go camping with the horses.

I rubbed the small scar hidden under my hairline. I wanted to say I was sorry for the trouble I’d caused them, and how I wished things were different. I would do anything to go back and change what happened. But instead, I did what I always did—I kept it all inside.

Grams turned into the back parking lot of Booked Up, and a burst of adrenaline flickered across my chest. I actually liked my aunt, mostly because she left me alone a lot of the time. This nervousness was rooted at a deeper level. I’d never really thrived on uncertainty or the unknown. That was for people like my dad, the brilliant artist and book-cover designer by day and adrenaline junkie by night. Dad had skydive over every continent plastered at the top of his bucket list. Had being the operative word.

I climbed out of the SUV and opened the back door, grabbing my overfilled suitcase and duffel bag. It was still raining, but I didn’t really care.

Grams carefully unfurled her umbrella before stepping out. “Shay, your hair!”

I shrugged again. My hair was the least of my concerns pretty much every day. A little water wouldn’t hurt it.

I made two wet trips from the SUV to the bookstore storeroom before Grams found Aunt Laura somewhere in the store. She knew we were coming, but I didn’t expect her to be waiting. Despite the fact that she was a successful entrepreneur in her thirties, my aunt was late to nearly everything. It would almost be an endearing quality if it didn’t mean that I ended up late everywhere too.

Aunt Laura rushed into the storeroom behind my grand- mother, tucking strands of her shoulder-length, wavy dark hair behind her ears. She’d dyed a thin strip of it red, and today she rocked the professional, entrepreneurial-woman look in skinny jeans and a blazer. I glanced down at my own worn jeans and cowboy boots. One small positive. Maybe some of her style would rub off on me.

“Sorry,” Aunt Laura said. “Lost track of the time.” I managed a smile. My grandmother did not.

Aunt Laura took my duffel from me and gave me a quick pat on the shoulder. No hug, which also didn’t surprise me. Physical affection was a scarce commodity with my aunt, though not because she didn’t care. Hugs just weren’t her thing.

“I’ll catch up with you,” Aunt Laura said to me.

Which meant she and my grandmother wanted to talk about me.

I started to walk away still lugging my suitcase, but then I hesitated as a twinge of sadness touched me. My grandmother and I might not be on the best of terms, but she was still my grandmother.

“See ya, Grams,” I said. But my grandmother had already turned her back.

Excerpted from Searching for Normal by C. J. Darlington, Copyright © 2021 by C. J. Darlington. Published by Focus on the Family.

Other Books in the Series

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About the Author

C. J. Darlington is the author of the Thicker than Blood and Jupiter Winds series, and the children’s fantasy Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone. C. J. lives in Pennsylvania with her whippets, two tabby cats, and a paint mare named Sky.

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