*To be Maria will be available on Amazon Kindle, release date May 2013.
Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress but she’s faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn’t have any money to support her. At school, she’s bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping-stone to stardom if she’s accepted by her peers.
All of this changes when Maria Hernandez–an immigrant from Spain–comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She’s assertive, confident and she dresses suggestively, characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent.
When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy’s rude comment sends her into a rage.
Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks and aggressive confidence that they can’t resist his friendship. They don’t know that Alex’s gang is at war with a rival gang–one that’s run by Anya’s older brother, Adrik–until one incident puts their lives in danger’s path. To make matters worse, Alex won’t let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that’s a matter of life or death.
Anya wakes, startled by the loud, repetitive beep of her alarm clock. In a daze, she reaches over the small night stand and slaps the stop button. She groans, her tired eyes half closed, while she slips out from underneath the old, but comfortable blanket.
Great. I’m so tired. If only I had two more hours. But no. When there’s no school, there’s work, and that’s even worse. I hate that I have to get up at five-thirty every Saturday and Sunday morning. My manager always gives me the worst shifts.
She shuffles over to the closet. Unlike most other girls in school, she never rummages through the closet in search of the perfect outfit. She rolls her eyes. “Oh God, here we go again: the same jeans, faded tank-tops, baggy t-shirts and sweatshirts. I can’t wait until the day comes when I throw away these ugly clothes. I just wish I had the money to buy new clothes, fashionable clothes. Maybe then, I’d fit in at school.”
Anya traces her finger over the delicate cloth of her one and only bohemian-style summer dress. Even the dress is a hand-me-down, worn by her mother back in the 1970s. But it is the only piece of clothing she loves. Unfortunately it’s still too cold outside to wear it.
Thank god for my imagination. I don’t know what I’d do without it.
The things Anya enjoys the most are brushing her hair and writing in her journal. These are the only times she can let her imagination take her away from home. She can pretend to be anything — anything but herself.
What readers have said about To be Maria.
“There are some really lovely descriptions written throughout the story that make for good reading. As a reader you will become invested in Anya and want to keep reading to the end to find out how things turn out for her.” ~Melissa Wray, author of Destiny Road.
“This is book is fantastic! It has a fantastic story line with mixture of heartbreaks, popularity, murder and a little dash of big hopes and dreams.” ~Selina, avid reader.
“This was a good book – The life of Anya and Maria in their high school years, explains that not everyone is treated the same. The book reminded me of the movie “mean girls” where the school popular girls are picking on the less fortunate girls.” ~ Jenn, Up All Night Reviews.
“This is a pure coming-of-age story. Anya is such a relatable character. Shes’ simply an
innocent girl wanting to belong to a group. She’s done nothing to deserve the situation she is in. As for Maria, shes a strong-willed character so many readers will love. Along with that, the settings were really descriptive, and very well thought out.” ~ Review on Flamingnet.com.
“To be Maria was a tale about a young girl who endured torment from her family and school mates. Anya, had a promising future in the theater, however, that wasn’t enough. Anya always wanted to know what it would be like to be on the popular side. When she meets the beautiful out spoken Maria her prayers are answered. Anya will soon learn that everything that glitters isn’t gold and come close to losing everything including her very own life.” ~ K.D. Harris