(The Union #2)
Publication date: June 16th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Heartbroken, grief-stricken, and wracked with guilt, seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor returned to the Union, leaving behind the boy she loved.
Now, she and her friends must find a way to do the impossible – warn the citizens of the Union about an impending rebel attack without alerting the government and risking retaliation against her friends in the Ruins.
When every move Evan makes is thwarted, it soon becomes clear she’s being watched. Faced with a daily fight to stay one step ahead of her pursuers, she returns to the Ruins. But life in the Ruins has its own dangers, and soon she’s fighting a different battle – to stay alive long enough to discover the truth.
In Defense of the Platonic Friendship
“…men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” Harry Burns.
That’s the premise behind the movie, When Harry Met Sally that plays out with hilarious side-effects. Harry later goes on to clarify that it would work if both of them were in relationships with other people, but otherwise platonic friendships between men and women are not possible.
I call BS. There are some great platonic friendships in fiction. Harry and Hermione (even though JK Rowling now admits she should have had them end up together), Meredith Grey and Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy, Watson and Holmes from Elementary. Okay, so maybe there aren’t a lot, and that’s too bad.
There are plenty of examples of straight/gay opposite-sex platonic friendships, but I don’t think those count because the sexual attraction will never be reciprocated. What’s so great about a platonic friendship with a member of the opposite sex is perspective you’ll never get from your girlfriends (or guy friends if you’re a guy). And let’s face it, your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife will never give it to you straight if s/he thinks your affection is on the line.
With The Union series, I created several close platonic friendships for my protagonist, Evan Taylor. These include Lisa and Colin from the Union and Sonia in the Ruins. Evan is slow to trust, so I knew her circle of close friends would be small. In The Ruins, Evan’s friendship with Colin evolves and the two become closer, needing each other in order to survive.
It might seem implausible for two teens with raging hormones to keep their friendship purely platonic, but I believe it’s not only possible, but logical. And I think it’s an underserved demographic in young adult fiction. There are a lot of friends-to-lovers stories out there, but that’s not what Evan and Colin are about. Their love for each other isn’t muddied with sexual attraction and all the pitfalls that can introduce.
I met my best male friend thirty years ago this summer. Our friendship developed over years of spending time together in the same group of friends. We saw each other through dozens of new relationships and breakups, marriages, children, and even a couple of divorces. He was there for me when I needed a place to crash after one of those breakups, and I was his best man at one of those weddings.
We were often single at the same time, and I won’t say we were never tempted to see where things might go, but we never acted on it because the friendship was always more important. And although we’re both more settled now with our respective families and don’t see each other as much as we used to, when we do get together, it’s as if no time has passed. Because that’s how it is with best friends, male or female.
Grief, guilt, heartbreak, fear, loss, and abandonment all swirl in my head, creating a vortex of pain and confusion keeping me awake.
Three days ago I was planning a future with the boy I love. Cyrus was going to come back to the Union with me. We were going to figure out a way to warn the citizens here or stop the attack. Together. Now his brother is dead and Cyrus stayed behind, unwilling to abandon the rest of his family.
The scents of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass float on a late summer night breeze. I stare up at the clouds from the chaise lounge on the balcony. A thick marine layer inched its way in from the coast hours ago, blanketing the sky and obscuring the stars I was hoping to see. With the moon hidden and the Union lights off for the night, darkness envelopes me.
Over the soft murmuring of desalinated ocean water burbling through the aqueduct, I hear the door slide open behind me and sit up. My bio-dad, Eddie, walks out and takes the spot beside me.
I shift to my right, giving him more room. “No. You?”
He shakes his head, his cinnamon-colored wavy hair sweeping across his shoulders. “My grandmother used to say if you can’t sleep, it means you’re awake in someone else’s dreams.”
That’s a comforting sentiment. Is Cyrus dreaming about me right now? Or is he like me, too afraid of the nightmares to close his eyes?
Eddie presses his lips together and studies me for several long seconds. “Are you ready to tell me where you’ve really been all summer?”
His question catches me off guard. I thought he bought my story, the one I told him when I came back. The one Lisa fed him while I was in the Ruins. Posing as me, she texted my mom and Eddie from my tablet with regular updates on our fake adventures sailing off the southeastern coast. When I first showed up here yesterday afternoon, he didn’t seem to care where I’d been or what I’d been up to, only that I was here at all. I’m definitely not ready to have this conversation with him.
“I don’t know, are you ready to tell me where you were for the first twelve years of my life?”
He shifts his weight on the chaise next to me and sighs. “I don’t know how many times I can apologize.”
“You think another ‘I’m sorry’ is going to fix everything?”
He rubs his palms on his thighs and stands. “You’re welcome to stay here as long as you’d like, but you might want to ratchet the anger down a few notches.” He moves toward the door before turning back. “You’re going to have to forgive me some day.”
I raise my head and turn toward his dark silhouette. “Why? You think sending me a ticket and letting me hang out with your new kids makes up for everything?”
“No,” he says quietly, “because hanging on to all that anger and resentment isn’t healthy.” He walks back into the house, sliding the door closed behind him.
With a heavy sigh, I fall on my back and stare back up into the blackness. Seriously? After being nothing to me for three-quarters of my life, where does he get off being all parental right now?
T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”
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