Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Finding Me" by Kelly Gunderman

Finding Me
by Kelly Gunderman

Finding Me by Kelly Gunderman

Finding Me by Kelly Gunderman is currently on tour with Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Can you ever truly love someone who robbed you of everything?
Sixteen-year-old Claire Williams spends most of her days feeling angry and alone. After a car accident took her mother and Claire’s ability to walk, life in a wheelchair is the new normal.
When she’s sent to live with her grandmother, away from school and friends, Claire has a chance for a fresh start. Just when Claire thinks she can handle things, she runs into Todd - the son of the man who caused the car accident.
At first, Claire wants nothing to do with him, but the more time they spend together, the more she hates to admit her feelings. She’s slowly falling in love with Todd.
Now, Claire’s father wants to move and take Claire with him. But she can’t go. Not now when everything is falling into place, and she’s just now finding herself. Claire’s defiant. She won’t leave Greenwood, her new friends, her grandmother, or Todd.
Can Claire find the strength to let her dad go on with his life while leaving her behind to live hers, or will she allow the guilt and shame of surviving the accident pull her back under?

The school looks enormous. The large, red brick building towers over me, its big bay windows with tan trim glaring like eyes. In large, three-dimensional letters outside the main doors is a silver sign that reads, “GREENWOOD HIGH,” and in a smaller font underneath, “Home of the Wildcats!” I sit there, staring at it, for what feels like hours before my grandmother kneels in front of me and cups my chin.
“Claire, are you okay?” she asks in an overly concerned tone.
“Yeah,” I start. “I just ... it’s so much bigger than my last school.”
“It’s a good school. You’ll make lots of friends here.”
I nod. “I know, Grandma. I can take it from here. Thank you for walking me to school.”
“You’re welcome, honey. I’ll be here at the end of the day to walk you home.”
“Grandma, you don’t have to do that,” I protest.
“I want to. I want to hear all about your day.” She kisses me on the head again and wraps me in an embrace. “Do you have your cellphone?” she asks.
I hold up my phone and force a smile.
“Good. Call me if you need anything. I love you, Claire. You go make some friends, and do your best.”
“I love you, Grandma. See you after school.”
As she walks away, I find myself wishing I could go after her and spend the day at home, burying myself under the covers, and just sleeping the day away. I watch her get farther and farther away, before disappearing from view completely. When I could see her, part of me felt like I wasn’t so alone. And then I turn around.
Looking up at the red, brick building that is Greenwood High, I feel intimidated and small. Kids of different ages sprawl out on the front lawn: girls doing their makeup and poring over magazines with the latest celebrity gossip, and boys playing Frisbee or trying to flirt with the girls. Some kids are still in the parking lot, sitting in and on their cars, laughing and talking together. I notice a girl about my age sitting under a large, weeping willow tree, holding a sketch pad on her lap. She’s partially hidden by leaves and branches, but I can see two boys sitting next to her, holding hands. The girl is pretty; she has soft blond hair tied in a ponytail and is wearing a long, pink dress with a white-and-yellow flower pattern.
I pass through the front door of Greenwood High and only catch a few looks. I quickly make my way to the main office. Once inside the building, I’m kind of relieved at how much better things are going than I feared.
The school’s design is pretty typical, with hallways flanked by classrooms on both sides. The lockers at my old school were bright yellow, but here they are a more subdued blue with gray trim—right at home with my desire for plainness and not standing out. No one seems to pay me much attention. Kids are instead wrapped up in conversations about how they spent their summers, who is dating whom, and which girls got the most amazing tans.
As I enter the office, a boy with brown hair—spiked in the back with some falling across his face—looks up from his computer and gives me a smile. His green eyes are inviting, and I find myself feeling more at ease already.
“Hey, there. Can I help you with something?”
My first instinct is to ask him why everything is so ... blue. Blue walls, blue chairs, blue lockers. Are they trying to use color therapy to keep kids calm? Or did the construction crew who built the school have a soft spot for Smurfs?
“Uh, yeah, actually. I’m Claire Williams. I’m new. I’m supposed to pick up my schedule here this morning.”
“Okay, let’s see ... ” He types something into the computer. “Here we are ... Claire Williams. You’re a junior, right?” As he looks up at me, a lock of dark brown hair falls across his face and over his right eye. He shakes his head to move it and gives me a shy smile as he waits for my response.
I nod. “Yep, that’s right.”
He types something else into the computer, and a few seconds later, the printer whirs to life, spitting out a piece of paper. He glances at the paper, nods, and then hands it over the counter.
“I see you have Mr. Danvers for AP English. I have him too. Same period, actually. Sorry about the mess in here. I’ve been helping out for my junior project. It used to be just the seniors that had to do something ‘beneficial to the community,’ but now the juniors are supposed to find something to do too. I thought working in the office would be kind of easy.” He winks and holds out his hand. I shake it. “My name is Todd.”
I smile at him. “Nice to meet you, Todd. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the other teachers I have? Mrs. Lewis for art ... what’s she like? I’ve never really been that great at art, so I’m not sure why I decided to take it. It sounded better than having to sit in the gym and watch all the jocks play basketball for study hall.”
He laughs. “She’s alright. Most of the time she just shows up and puts a movie on. I had her freshman year, but I haven’t taken art since then, so I can’t say what kinds of things she has her students doing these days. I don’t think she takes the job seriously since the school cut a lot of funding for the art department.”
“Why’d they cut the funding?” I ask.
“They needed more money for the football team. New uniforms or something like that. Who knows? Everyone was pissed about it, though. They cut funding from band too, and a lot of the kids tried to start a petition and take it to the school board, but nothing ever came of it.”
I shake my head. I’m not sure what to say, but for some reason, Todd looks familiar to me. “Hey, Todd,” I begin.
“Yeah?” he says, tilting his head and smiling.
“You seem really familiar. Like, I swear I’ve seen you around before. What’s your last name?”
For a moment, Todd says nothing. It’s like a brief cloud passes across his face, darkening those bright green eyes. “My last name is Cash,” he says. “You’ve probably heard about my dad. He got into some trouble with drinking a while back ... he caused a really bad car accident.”
Everything slows down. I can feel my lungs struggling for air as I put two and two together and realize where I’ve heard that name before. Where I’ve seen those green eyes before.

Praise for the Book
“Finding me is my kind of story. When I read the blurb I knew it would be for me. […] This is more than a romance. It’s about Claire finding her place and compassion. This is an interesting read. I would have liked it to have focused more on the romance but the story kept me hooked right to the end.” ~ D.M.

About the Author
Kelly Gunderman
Kelly Gunderman was born a child of the late eighties in small-town Pennsylvania. A bibliophile in her own right, she is hoping to one day surpass the number of pages she has turned with those she has written of her own accord.
Having recently completed her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Development, Kelly suddenly found herself with a bit more free time than usual, and began her immediately successful foray into blogging and Freelance Writing, which subsequently led to her renewed desire to finally put her ideas and imaginings “on paper”.
Focusing primarily on the Young Adult genre, Kelly has recently finished and her first novel, Finding Me, which was published in July 2019 by Swoon Romance.
She currently resides in her original home town with her husband, their two daughters, and a few cats that constantly challenge the sanity of all with their ill-advised attempts at what can only be assumed to be world domination.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a Swoon Romance ebook of their choice from a previous publication year.

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