We are here with BREAKING NEWS about the latest #Wibbroka book! Our fav romcom writing couple is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history. With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka hits shelves April 19, 2022…but you can start reading it today! Scroll down to see the cover and read an early excerpt (AND we might have snagged you an exclusive Q&A with the authors!)
Cover/jacket design: Kristie Radwilowicz and Theresa Evangelista
Read a sneak peek of With and Without You below!
“I want to break up.”
The words feel weird passing my lips. I can’t quite believe them even though I’m the one saying them. Maybe there’s just no way to prepare for the end of stories like ours.
The whole thing is made weirder by the fact I’m floating in a swimming pool, sheltering from the hundred-degree Phoenix sun. On days like this, I never know where the droplets of chlorinated water on my shoulders end and where my sweat starts. Right now, though, I’m pretty sure I’m mostly sweat. Not just from the heat, either.
“Patrick,” I continue before I lose my courage. I have a whole speech planned out, and I’m determined to give it. “You know how much you mean to me,” I go on, working hard to keep my expression contrite yet respectful. “You’ve honestly been the best boyfriend—”
From across the pool, he interrupts me. “And you’ve been the best girlfriend.” He’s treading water in the deep end, water beading on the brown skin of his brow.
I grimace. “Thanks,” I say through my teeth. It’s the worst kind of thank you. Not grateful, just necessary. “But what I’m trying to say is that we’ve been together for nearly three years. I’m just wondering if . . . maybe we’re too young for this kind of commitment.” I hear my voice grow stronger by the end of the sentence, which is good. It’s the only thing making this bearable, really. I believe what I’m saying.
“Siena, you’re my world,” he protests. “You’re my everything. You have been since we were fifteen.”
My mouth flattens. Some stinging combination of sunscreen and water has slipped into my eye, and I rub it, grateful for the moment to regroup. “That’s my point, though. It’s been almost three years.” There’s more I don’t say. We haven’t even said I love you. We haven’t had sex. We discussed early in our relationship wanting to wait for the “right time.” Which . . . somewhere in these three years, shouldn’t I have felt like it was the right time? “Do you want to graduate high school having only dated me?” I ask.
His reply is immediate. “Yes! I literally only want to date you!” He looks genuinely confused by my question. Then his expression clouds over. “Wait, who else do you want to date?”
I’ve been bobbing lightly on my toes in the pool, but when I sink down, I realize I’ve drifted into the five-foot section. I’m only five foot six, and I find the water rising past my mouth. I’ve lost my footing, conversationally and literally.
Paddling into shallower water, I force myself to remain clear and calm. “Nobody in particular,” I say. “I just feel like I need freedom. Not to date exactly, but to explore who I am.”
I breathe out. That’s it. That’s what I’ve been feeling this summer, in the months leading up to Patrick’s and my senior year. The truth is, if I examine who I am right now, I’m not very interested in what I find. I’m incredibly, painfully normal. I just exist, filling days with the routines of life. I go to school. I do Model UN. I’m not very good—I never gavel. Besides, I joined the extracurricular for Patrick. On Saturday nights, I go to the movies or McDonald’s with the same group of friends I’ve had since elementary school.
Honestly, my most defining feature is my boyfriend. Patrick and I are The Couple. The couple our circle of classmates can only imagine as a unit. No one even says our names separately. It’s only SienaandPatrick. PatrickandSiena. SienaandPatrick are in our prom limo. PatrickandSiena were the only people not drinking. Which isn’t Patrick’s fault, not in the least. But it is our relationship’s fault. When everything I do involves or centers on him, it’s hard to figure out how to be my own person. I just know I can’t stand it much longer—I’m desperate for something to change.
His voice cuts harshly into my thoughts, louder now. “So, what? We’re over? Three years, and you’re throwing me away?”
I’m caught off guard. I flatten my feet on the rough concrete of the pool for some sense of stability. “It’s really more like two and a half years,” I point out, then wince.
“Like I’m garbage?” he goes on emphatically.
“Patrick, you’re—you’re not garbage.” I kick under the water to move closer, reaching out for him.
He pushes away from me, splashing dramatically. “You were everything to me,” he says. “I guess I was nothing to you. I don’t even know who you are anymore. The Siena I knew would never do this to me,” he wails.
I open my mouth to reply, then—
Instead, I sigh. Dropping the contrition from my expression, I frown. “Okay, this isn’t helpful,” I inform him.
He stops flailing immediately, mirroring the change in me. “Too much?” he asks apologetically, his expression completely changed.
“Way too much,” I confirm. “You have to be realistic, Joe. Patrick won’t make a scene.”
My best friend nods, considering my feedback like an actor hoping this performance wins him his Emmy. “He will be heartbroken, though,” Joe says matter-of-factly.
Text copyright © by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley
Scroll down for an exclusive Q&A with the authors!
Q: First of all, we LOVE this cover (and sense many #bookstagram recreations of it in the future!) What was your reaction to seeing the cover for the first time?
A: The YELLOW! We love the desert vibes of this one—the sunshine warmth of the color, with the gorgeous mural perfectly capturing the cacti and sunrises of our setting. Instantly we were charmed by Siena with her peace sign—she looks like someone who’s excited to explore everything the world has to offer, which is exactly the girl we wanted to characterize this time. We love every Wibbroka cover, and we feel like Theresa Evangelista’s work on this one is instantly iconic.
Q: Are there any easter eggs from other books in the Wibbroka universe in With and Without You?