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Stray

Monica Hesse
"What happens when you live a life that isn't yours?"
Stray – picture

What happens when you live a life that isn’t yours?

Lona Sixteen Always is not herself – quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 – troubled children who have been ‘rescued’ by the government and put ‘on-Path’. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself. And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen – Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn’t. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path?

Publication Date: Thu 6 Jun 2013
ISBN Paperback: 9781471400278
ISBN Ebook: 9781471400285

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Author

Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse grew up in the cornfield American town of Normal, Illinois, spending most of her childhood pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder or Anne Frank. She is a feature writer for The Washington Post, where she has covered everything from political campaigns and the Oscars to the cultural meaning of Doritos. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and a big black dog named Sheba.
Follow Monica on Twitter: @MonicaHesse

Extract

Lona felt a tear trickle from the corner of her eye down the bridge of her nose, mucosy and wet. This was also abnormal behaviour. Lona was only supposed to cry in Julian's world. She was not supposed to cry Off Path. The bell rang. Lona looked toward the door leading to the bay, and then back at Fenn. "Go," he said. When she didn't, he nudged her arm. "Go," he said again. "Julian is waiting." At her pod, the lights were already dimming. She thought about how amputated it had felt to enter the bay without him. How solitary Fenn had looked in his regulation clothing. The recording began. It was a balm of a message, an ointment, doing what it was designed to do. It soothed. The Path is for you, it said. The Path is in you. Lona tried to hold on to Fenn's face. She owed him that. You are the Path. It was impossible. The conversation was already fading. The tears she had just shed were evaporating against her face, dry and tight. A membrane of sadness, a memento of disobedience. This was as it was supposed to be, the great architecture of Lona's existence. The life she'd just been living ceased to be important. New colours appeared in front of her eyes, new sounds echoed in her ears. A brassy alarm clock. A lawn mower. Lona's pod disappeared, until she was no longer in the bay, but in a familiar bedroom. Lona was becoming Julian again.