Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Nineteen-year-old Langley is crazy…like get out the straight jacket and prepare the padded room kind of crazy. She knows it, and the kicker is—she’s choosing to stay that way. She clings to the persistent and intrusive hallucination of her dead sister by choice. Sure, it might be nice to live life in the real world. But not if it means she has to let Sarah go.
Tupper’s life is charmed. He has loving adoptive parents, and several athletic college scholarships on the table. But his passion is for the arts, for the beauty of solid ink lines on paper. His illustrations are eerily similar to a keepsake from his birth mother, Anna: comic-book-style drawings scrawled across an old map…her version of a travel diary. At eighteen, Tupper sidesteps his planned future and starts his journey where Anna’s ended—following her map from Kansas City to Canada. His travels will put him on a collision course with Langley, and their bond is palpable from the start. But secrets will push between them—Sarah and Anna, two ghosts who could sink their icy fingers into the teens and tear them apart.
Perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless and John Green’s Paper Towns, TRAVEL DIARY OF THE DEAD & DELUSIONAL is a unique and robust novel that explores themes of mental-illness and self-discovery from three distinct perspectives. Lauren Nicolle Taylor is the award-winning and best-selling author of Nora and Kettle and the beloved Woodlands series, among others.
“A story of love and loss, adventure, and coming into one’s own, Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional is a thoughtful, poignant road trip adventure that delivers hope through its melancholy.” ~Hannah Williams, Foreword Reviews Magazine
SOMEWHERE ABOVE THE ARIZONA DESERT, 2015
WEATHER: UP IN THE CLOUDS
The sun rises over the sandy stretch in front of us. Tupper drives, his eyes propped open by will. We’re both so tired and confused, but sleeping in the Chevy just didn’t seem practical. Besides, Palm Springs was only an hour away.
Tupper rubs his jaw in that tense, wiry way, and glances at me briefly. He keeps doing it. I’m always there to catch him, because I haven’t stopped staring at him since we started driving. When his eyes find mine, he smiles, quick as a flashcard, and then it disappears like it was one of my hallucinations.
He flicks one finger at the windshield without releasing the steering wheel. “Nice sunrise,” he comments.
I watch the orange, pink, and gold paint his face. His lips pinker. His skin darker. “Yep,” I reply, nodding spastically.
Light pours through the violent spray of palm leaves, wraps around their long, thin trunks, and spreads over the red dirt like rising flood waters. It is silent but not awkward. I think if we forced a conversation, then it would be awkward. Whatever is happening between us, we both seem happy to let it grow like the sunrise. Seep slowly through the barren places, warm the parts that are just starting to sprout. At least that’s my hope.
The sun hits the front of the car and spirals slowly over the hood. Tupper squints, and I lean my head on his shoulder. I hear him breathe in, hold it, and then exhale loudly. His shoulders sink a little as his body relaxes.
“Thanks,” he says, touching his head to the top of mine.
“For?” I raise my eyebrows.
“For not turning this into a big thing where we have to talk about it for hours, you know, debate where this is going, what’s going to happen…” He stumbles over his words. These were wedged in his head like a tangle of bike parts, and he’s having a hard time getting them out.
I shrug. “No point in asking questions we can’t answer, right?” I ask. The palms turn from black shadows to a waxy green as the sun speeds up and races for the sky.
“Right,” he replies with a nod, but he seems unsure.
Straightening, I smooth out my wrinkled clothes. “Talking’s hard for you. I get that.”
His jaw is rigid, his mouth clamped shut. People might think he’s uncomfortable, but I’m coming to understand this is Tupper at rest. “It’s okay.” I nudge him with my elbow. “I get it. You like it in there. You don’t want to come out from under your shell.” Pinching my fingers together, I pretend I’m lifting a lid. “But maybe, from time to time, you might let me in there with you?”
He keeps his eyes on the road, unwires his jaw long enough to say, “Langley, you’re already in.”
My heart does this unfamiliar thing. It squeezes and hollows and hurts. I touch it just to make sure it’s not actually trying to escape my chest. His mouth winds back up as if he never said anything at all, but his hands grip the wheel tighter. His cheeks are as pink as the sunrise that’s slipping back like the tide.
I bite my lip and whisper, “Okay then.” I talk to the windshield just as he did. “And Tupper?”
“I just want to say, if you ever feel like doing that again, I mean, the kissing me thing. I wouldn’t be opposed to it.” Maybe I should feel embarrassed, but I’m not. I smile, watching his eyebrows rise. “Just so you know.”
He chuckles. It lands deep in his chest. Burrows into mine. I don’t want to, but I’m already starting to miss the sound.
Sarah stares out the window with a wistful expression, and I let my mind wander to that place I rarely go. It’s where I imagine her grown, as my older sister. I picture talking to her about this boy I’ve met, her serious eyes and wicked smile filling the room. It doesn’t hurt as much as it usually does. Just a small sting rather than the usually large knife wound.
I miss things that will never happen—that will always be the case—but right now, something good is finally happening to me.
Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).
She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.
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