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  • Written by Lurlene McDaniel
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  • Written by Lurlene McDaniel
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Written by Lurlene McDanielAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lurlene McDaniel


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: July 24, 2012
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-97411-2
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.

Lurlene McDaniel's signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.



Morgan Frierson looked across the football field, at stands filled with Edison students, all stomping and cheering for the start of the pep rally. A frenzied exhibition of school spirit would guarantee that Edison’s principal and staff would authorize another such rally. And who didn’t want to cut out of last period thirty minutes early? Morgan knew some kids were already melting away into the Michigan afternoon, ditching school and the rally, but most were hanging around in the stands.

She stood at the mouth of the short tunnel leading from the locker room, the football team stamping behind her, waiting for Principal Simmons to finish his comments on the makeshift stage in the middle of the field. The marching band had already played and gone through a few formations, and now its members were standing at the foot of the stage, sweating in the hot sun. Morgan fidgeted impatiently, and when she felt the brush of lips on the back of her neck, she jumped a foot.

“Whoa, babe! It’s a kiss, not a knife,” she heard her boyfriend, Trent Caparella, say.

Behind them, a few of the players made smacking sounds and off-color remarks.

Trent turned, saying good-naturedly, “Knock it off, dirtbags.”

Morgan spun to face Trent. “You startled me.”

Trent was a soccer player, but during football season Coach used Trent’s kicking leg to add necessary extra points and field goals to the scoreboard. “Nervous, Madam President?”

They were seniors and Morgan had been elected student council president. Today was her first public speech to the student body. “Nervous? How could I be? I just love talking to a thousand kids who are going to ignore me.”

“Never happen. When they see you coming, they’ll bow.”

“Very funny.” Morgan chewed her bottom lip, heard her name from the principal’s mike. She took a deep breath. “Here I go.” She jogged onto the field, looking at the ground so she wouldn’t trip. Catcalls and cheers erupted from the stands. She glanced up to see her best friend, Kelli, and a whole squad of cheerleaders waving at her. The front rows of the stands were packed with her fellow seniors, benches of honor at every pep rally, off-limits to the other kids.

Morgan trotted up the platform stairs, her hair bobbing on her shoulders, and went to the mike. “Seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen!” The bleachers yipped with whistles and stomping. Each class attempted to outscreech the others. Morgan quickly decided to dump her prepared remarks about school spirit. “Here they are!” she shouted. “Your Fighting Eagles!”

The football team, dressed in bright blue-and-white uniforms, jogged out onto the field, and the students did their cheering duty, led by the cheerleading squad. Morgan kept her eyes on Trent. He was gorgeous: tall, blond, broad-shouldered, with bulging leg muscles from years of playing soccer. She felt so lucky to be his girl. Ever since their freshman year, when they’d first set eyes on each other, they’d been a couple--“the Jock and the Princess, a Disney movie in living color.” That was what Kelli had always said about them. Morgan couldn’t deny she agreed with her friend’s analysis. She and Trent were a perfect couple; everyone said so. He was one of the reasons she’d been elected student council president, and they the Most Popular Twosome for the yearbook. But she’d earned Most Likely to Succeed and become a Merit Scholar on her own. No denying she was driven to earn high grades and college scholarships. Trent had already been offered athletic scholarships from top universities. They would be going their separate ways after graduation. That was hard for Morgan--knowing that this was their last year together before their lives changed forever.

The team jogged around the football field. Cheers. Kelli and the cheerleading squad flashed pom-poms, made human pyramids, executed precise tumbling routines. More cheers from the bleachers. The band struck up the school song and air horns sounded out of nowhere. The principal beamed toward the stands. Morgan felt a deep stirring of school spirit and teared up. For a moment, her gaze connected with Trent’s. He blew her a kiss.

And then, without warning, in front of the goalpost at the east end of the field, all hell broke loose.
Lurlene McDaniel

About Lurlene McDaniel

Lurlene McDaniel - Red Heart Tattoo

Photo © Meghan Green and Jon Lancaster

“I write the kind of books I write because I want to help kids understand that nobody gets to pick what life dishes out to them. What you do get to choose is how you respond to what life gives you. No matter what happens, life is a gift. And always worth living.”—Lurlene McDaniel

Lurlene McDaniel is a recipient of the RITA Award and several of her works have received the IRA–CBC Children’s Choice Award.


Everyone loves a good cry, and no one delivers heartwrenching stories better than Lurlene McDaniel.

But there’s more to her books than that. McDaniel has written over 40 novels about kids who face life-threatening illnesses, who sometimes do not survive. These are powerful, inspirational stories about courage, love, and strength in the face of overwhelming trauma. McDaniel’s books touch the hearts and spirits of the teenagers and adults who read them. Her following is a devoted group of appreciative fans. McDaniel says: “These are books that challenge you and make you think.”

Some readers—and their parents—have wondered why McDaniel chooses to write about sad situations. “I tell them that sometimes tragedy hits people—kids, too. They want answers. They want to know ‘why.’ By using novels, I show ordinary kids confronting and overcoming great odds.” McDaniel’s books are ultimately optimistic and life-affirming. 

McDaniel began writing about young adults when her son Sean was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 3. His illness changed the lives of everyone in her family forever. “I saw what life was like for someone who was chronically ill, and I experienced how it affected the dynamics of the family,” says McDaniel. She says she found that writing about the trauma and its effects was therapeutic.

To make certain that her books are medically accurate, McDaniel conducts extensive research. She interviews health care professionals and works with appropriate medical groups and hospice organizations, as well as the Tennessee Organ Donor Services. “I study medicine and traditional grief therapy techniques to give the novels a sense of serious medical reality,” she says. “I also study the Bible to instill the human element—the values and ethics often overlooked by the coldness of technology.”

Growing up, McDaniel lived in different parts of the country because her father was in the Navy. Eventually her family settled in Florida. She attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she earned a B.A. in English. She now lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In addition to her popular YA novels, McDaniel has written radio and television scripts, promotional and advertising copy, and a magazine column. She is a frequent speaker at schools, writers’ conferences, and conventions.

McDaniel’s books have been named to several bestseller lists, including Publishers Weekly. Three of her novels were
selected by children as IRA–CBC Children’s Choices: Somewhere Between Life and Death, Too Young to Die, and Goodbye Doesn’t Mean Forever. Six Months to Live has been placed in a literary time capsule at the Library of Congress, to be opened in the year 2089.

The One Last Wish books focus on the interconnected stories of the residents and counselors of Jenny House—a group home for critically and terminally ill young girls. Through the kindness of a secret benefactor, each girl receives a cashier’s check for $100,000, to be used to make her last wish come true. Every One Last Wish novel is a compassionate story of triumph and inspiration that makes McDaniel’s dedicated fans come back for more.

McDaniel’s works include To Live Again, one of the Dawn Rochelle books; Angel of Mercy, the companion to Angel of Hope; and How Do I Love Thee, three stories about young couples who are inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beautiful sonnet. In her novel, Telling Christina Goodbye, McDaniel shows that everything can change in the blink of an eye.


“An interesting blend of romance, mystery, and problem novel. The characters are captivating and sensitively drawn and the plot is fast paced.”—School Library Journal

“Touching scenes abound in this crisis novel. . . . Fans of tear-jerker teen romances will enjoy this offering.”—Booklist

“A satisfying story for those who like to take their romance with tears and gutsy characters who know what it means to live beyond the pale of ‘normal.’ ”—School Library Journal

“Readers of McDaniel will enjoy; it’s good to read positive stories about teens.”—VOYA

“McDaniel has a way of getting you to look at the complicated emotions experienced by YAs with major medical problems. . . . Another winner in her One Last Wish series.”—KLIATT

“[The stories] are absorbing, the characters are well developed, and the author does not resolve the girls’ dilemmas with pat solutions. . . . This has solid YA appeal.”—School Library Journal

“These companion novels . . . cast the events of high school into a meaningful perspective and allow for convincing character development. McDaniel’s writing is light and well suited to this refreshing and involving story.”—Publishers Weekly

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