The Red Road
by Jenni Wiltz
The Red Road is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
A father's love. A family's tragedy. A daughter's revenge.
Honor student Emma knows more about galvanic cell diagrams than guns. College is the only way out of her gang-ridden hometown, but her parents can't afford it.
When her unemployed dad lands a job as a census taker, things start looking up. But he's sent deep into East Malo Verde, where gang members rule the streets and fear anyone with a badge who knocks on doors. One night, a gang member mistakes him for a cop and beats him savagely, leaving him for dead.
Her best friends, her chem lab partner, her mom, and the detective assigned to the case all try to convince her to focus on school. But school won't prepare her for a world that ignores a crime against a good man. Emma must decide what's more important: doing what's expected, or doing what she feels is right ... even if it leads her down a dark and dangerous path of revenge.
The Red Road is about a girl in turmoil, coming of age as she discovers the depths - and the limits - of friendship, first love, and the bond between parents and their children.
Dan sat next to her in AP Chemistry, but never seemed to have the requisite supplies. At the beginning of the year, she became his go-to paper provider, and he’d agreed to be her lab partner. Lucky for her, he was the most precise measurer she’d ever met, and that included her mom, who was like Attila the Hun with measuring cups.
Everything was fine until February 8, when he’d leaned over their lab table and asked if she had a hot date for Valentine’s Day. Her pencil slipped, and instead of entering “NR” for the cross of Pb with Pb(NO3)2, she blistered through the page with the tip of her Ticonderoga. “What did you say?” she asked.
His dark hair flopped over his eyebrows, almost reaching his cheekbones. “Here,” he said. “Let me do that. You’re messing it up again.” Since that moment, she’d been haunted by the implications of his question. No one had ever asked her out and she’d assumed no one ever would, not while she had baby fat and bad skin.
One day during sophomore year, class president Javier Benavides flung an arm around her after biology class. Javier’s friend said, “Hey, is this your new girl?” Javier raised both hands quicker than a cowboy in a calf-tying contest. “No way,” he’d said. “These are the ones you save for marriage.” Emma had no idea what that meant, aside from the fact that it was mortally embarrassing for Javier’s name to be linked with hers in any romantic context. She was dating kryptonite—until February 8 at 11:42 a.m., when Dan joked about her having a date on Valentine’s Day. This was no small thing.
She watched Dan and his friends walk toward her table. They were heading for the main hall, its doorway just behind her. She liked the way he walked, with slightly turned-out legs that weren’t bowed but definitely weren’t straight. He had very smooth lips, while hers were always chapped. It didn’t seem fair.
She tried to smile, in case he looked at her. The boys shuffled by, talking about the match on Saturday. He didn’t see her. He didn’t even look in her general direction. Story of my life, she thought.
Praise for the Book
"This was most assuredly a departure from what I usually read but it intrigued me and I was very glad that I did read it. That’s not to say it was an easy read. Obviously this book deals with some dark and heavy topics. Emma is a very well drawn character and no child should have to deal with issues like the ones this character had to face. I do not know if the desire for revenge runs this deeply in children of this age – that struck me as odd – but having no personal knowledge of such situations I just went with the story. It deals well with issues of family dynamics, friendship, love and despair. It was a book that stayed with me long after I turned the last page" ~ P. Woodland
"The Red Road does not shy away from much of anything. There are some dark scenes, and some weighty questions that are raised by this book. The relationships are what shine beautifully and balance out the more grim, dramatic elements of the story. [...] Despite the heavy subject matter (revenge, violence, culture clashes), The Red Road was a quick and satisfyingly intense read. Recommended." ~ Sara Strand
"Wiltz has an impeccable writing style and will keep the audience entertained. There is no such thing as a dull moment in this book. I was highly shocked and never saw some things coming in the book. A good read for mystery lovers. Ms. Jenni I love the way you thought outside the box." ~ Shanae, Quirky Book Reviews
About the Author
Jenni Wiltz writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She's won national writing awards for creative nonfiction and romantic suspense, including a 2011 Romance Writers of America Kiss of Death Chapter's Daphne du Maurier Award for her novel, The Cherbourg Jewels.
She also writes thrillers, historical fiction, and paranormal romance, and you may have seen her short stories in The Portland Review, Gargoyle, and the Sacramento News & Review.
After earning bachelor’s degrees in English and history and a Master’s degree in English, she worked as a web editor, a copywriter, and a USAID grant program coordinator, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Kenya.
When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, sewing, running, and genealogical research. She lives in Pilot Hill, California and has not yet struck gold in her backyard.