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Cover Reveal: SIXTEEN MINUTES by K.J. Reilly

Cover reveal! When a new girl arrives in town, seemingly from the future, three teens’ lives are turned upside down in this speculative YA novel full of love and loss, and the power of the unknown. Sixteen Minutes is coming to shelves October 15, 2024!

Seventeen-year-old Nell knows two things for sure—she’s never going to get out of her rural, dead-end hometown of Clawson, NY and her best friend Stevie B and longtime boyfriend Cole are never going to leave her. That is until Charlotte, a new girl, arrives at their school and their lopsided friend triangle is turned on its axis. While Nell and Stevie B are certain that Charlotte isn’t who she says she is, Cole is caught fully in her thrall. There are secret calls and meetings between the two, and Nell knows Cole is keeping something big from her. Now, for the first time in their lives, Nell worries she could lose Cole. 

When Nell and Stevie B finally confront Cole and Charlotte, they learn the impossible—Charlotte is actually from the future, and for life altering reasons none of them could have imagined, she wants Cole to jump to the future with her, leaving Nell behind. It’s dangerous, it’s reckless, but Charlotte convinces them that it’s the only choice they have. The trio’s future has always seemed set—but with the knowledge that time travel is real, and with a multiverse of futures before them, they now have the option to live lives they could have only dreamed about. The only questions are, who will take the leap and who will be left behind.

Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek. And remember to preorder your copy!

Cover design by Theresa Evangelista; Cover illustrations by Pablo Hurtado de Mendoza

After school, I drive over to Cole’s to check on Finn. I let myself in, and when I get to the top of the stairs, it’s dead quiet. The bathroom door in the hall is half-open, and I can see Cole on his knees, fully dressed, leaning over the tub. Something in my gut turns to sour mash. I knock, then push the door the rest of the way open, not sure what I’ll find. Not wanting to know what he’s doing and needing to know at the same time.

The tub is full of water, and he has his face submerged. “What the hell, Cole!” I say as I try to pull him up by his shoulders, but he swats me away.

His phone is sitting on the side of the tub, with the stopwatch running, and I watch the minutes and seconds, the hundredths of seconds, tick by until he finally pulls his face up from the water, gasping for air. He grabs his phone and stops the clock. “One minute, forty-seven seconds,” he says as he drips water everywhere, scribbling the time on a piece of paper.

I sit on the edge of the tub. “Cole, talk to me!”

He sinks onto the floor. “I can’t.”

“Why not?” I hand him a towel, and he starts drying his hair. “I just can’t,” he says, and then he hugs me tight. “Look, can you stay with Finn? She’ll be asleep the whole time. Just till my mom gets home?”

“Cole, no.”

“Please? I have to go somewhere. Just for a few hours.” His eyes are pleading. The muscles in his chest and neck tight.

“Where do you have to go?”

“Don’t ask me that,” he says as he sweeps his hair back.

“So you’re meeting her?”

“Don’t ask me that either.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because I won’t lie to you, Nell. And I can’t tell you the truth either.” Then he looks at me with his eyes full of real honest-to-God fear.

I’ve only seen eyes like that once before. Me and Stevie B were eleven years old, and we cornered a coyote inside one of the barns on Cole’s granddaddy’s property. The coyote was gaunt and mangy, with patches of fur missing, his ears slung back slick and tight against his skull, his eyes as cold as steel in the dead of winter. And he was holding his head low, just like Cole is now, like he knew something bad was coming.

Cole’s daddy shot that coyote with a thirty-aught-six later that night. He told us he found him cowering by the side of the barn, growling and foaming from the mouth. He said an animal like that can’t be trusted once it gets that look in its eyes.

The problem is, Cole has that look right now. Like he’s cornered, with nowhere to run.

So I cave. “Yeah,” I say. “Of course I’ll stay with Finn.”

He kisses me. And it’s tender and soft and it feels like the saddest kiss in the history of the universe.

Like it’s not Cole at all.

And it’s not forever.

It’s goodbye.

Penguin Teen