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PROMISE ME YOU’LL COME BACK (Middle Grade – Revised in 2014 – 56,000 Words)

PROMISE ME YOU’LL COME BACK is a modern-day fairy tale that celebrates the worlds created by imagination.

The summer before sixth grade looks grim for Chloe. Tiny Red Bud, Illinois has more cows than people, and Chloe doesn’t know much about the grandmother she’s visiting other than the rumors of witchcraft she overhears from her mother’s conversations. She can’t believe that this is where she’ll be spending the summer, especially when she and her father had so many great things planned for her visit to Atlanta.

Chloe’s surprised to feel an instant connection with her grandmother. From the confines of her bed, her grandmother urges Chloe to explore the woods. She promises that something spectacular awaits there.

Chloe’s grandmother delivers on this promise. When Chloe steps through a canopy on the far side of the trees, she finds herself in Red Bud from the lens of half a century ago. Waiting on the other side is a young girl named Lydia, who is eager to show Chloe a version of Red Bud long since gone. It’s even better than the realms in the books Chloe loves so much, because she can touch and see and smell it. Chloe tries not to notice when she sees an empty truck putter by, and ignores how the blackberry bushes have no thorns and how time can stand still. It doesn’t matter if Lydia’s world isn’t really real, because it’s real for Chloe. And so is Lydia, the first true friend Chloe’s had since her parents’ divorce.

As the summer wanes, the world deteriorates. Before it closes forever and Lydia disappears along with it, Chloe must understand why it was opened just for her.

PROMISE ME was inspired by two small towns in Illinois: Red Bud and Millstadt (pictures featured). The scenes and surroundings of Chloe’s Red Bud are a hybrid of these two towns. PROMISE ME pays homage to several books that inspired me to become a writer.

PROMISE ME - Chloe's Woods      

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