In the spotlight today is Stealing Liberty by my fellow Clean Reads author Jennifer Froelich. A supporting character named Sam has autism, and according to the author, he plays a vital role in the story.
A heist so monumental, it may cost them everything…
When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship – especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him.
But when Reed, Riley and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the government that has risen in its place.
Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it – to take back their history and the liberty that has been stolen from them.
My escort pushes me. “Pick up the pace, kid.”
I stumble on a sharp rock and cut my toe. It hurts more than it should and I pull up to face him, fists curled at my side. I’ve grown about a foot since my sixteenth birthday, which means I can stare him down, eye to eye. He just smirks.
How about I smash your nose?
For a minute the urge is so powerful, my pulse pounds against my throat and red spots blur my vision.
Don’t do anything stupid, Reed. Pick your battles.
The voice in my head is my dad’s, so I listen.
We climb aboard a rusty hybrid bus parked in front of the bombed-out terminal. “Welcome,” says the autopilot. It’s one of the retro models, formed like a human, with LED eyes and everything. When magnetic tracks were first installed, citizens didn’t trust computers to maneuver vehicles safely along roadways. At least that’s what my grandmother told me. Humanoid pilots were designed to make them feel safer.
Pretty soon, people had more important things to worry about.
My escort takes a seat behind the pilot, but I keep going. Only one other passenger is on the bus — a girl with long blond hair who sits in the fifth row, pressed against the window. Bruises swell on her left cheekbone and along her jaw. Her lip is crusted with blood and her right eyelid is swollen shut. Nausea washes over me, along with fresh anger.
“Sit!” our escort barks.
The girl flinches. I take a seat across from her and shift toward the window. The door squeaks closed and the bus lurches forward.
We travel on an old freeway so desolate, we don’t encounter a single other transport. I wish I was calm enough to sleep — so numb to the government’s strong-arm tactics, they no longer get to me. Instead I stare past the landscape and try not to shake. Try not to relive my nightmare or think about how it felt to wake up with a gun to my head. I imagine a different outcome. Fighting back — or breaking out of the state home before they showed up.
About the Author
Jennifer Froelich published her debut novel, Dream of Me, in late 2011, which reviewers praised as “well-orchestrated with outstanding imagery.” Her second novel, A Place Between Breaths, published in 2014, was called “a roller-coaster ride with enough twists and turns to keep everyone interested” and won an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 23rd Annual Self Published Book competition. Jennifer is a frequent contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
A graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, Jennifer worked for many years as a freelance editor and writer before publishing her own work. She lives in beautiful Idaho with her husband, two teenage kids, and a rescue cat named Katniss.