Cover Reveal: WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE
Cover reveal! Get ready for Wish You Weren’t Here by Erin Baldwin, coming to shelves June 4, 2024.
All’s fair in love and Color War.
Juliette doesn’t hate Priya Pendley.
At least, not in the way teen movies say she should hate the hot popular girl. They don’t do cat fights, love triangles, or betrayal. To survive their intertwined small town lives, they’ve agreed to a truce. They complete group projects without fighting, never gossip to mutual friends, and stand on opposite sides of photos so it’s easy to crop each other out.
Priya seems to have everything during the school year—social media stardom, the handsome track captain boyfriend, and millions of adoring fans—and Juliette is at peace with that. Because Juliette has the summer, and the one place she never feels like “too much”: Fogridge Sleepaway Camp.
But her hopes for a few Priya-free weeks are shattered when her rival shows up at Fogridge on move-in day… as her cabinmate, no less. Juliette is determined to enjoy her final summer, even if it means (gag) tolerating her childhood rival, but everything that can go wrong, does.
If Juliette can’t find something to like about her situation—and about Priya—she risks hating the only home she’s ever had, right before she says goodbye to it forever.
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Cover art Bex Glendining, Cover design by Lucia Baez
The day I started second grade, my teacher told me that Juliette Barrera-Wright was much too difficult a name for such a little girl.
“What about Julie? That’s pretty,” he said, probably smug and condescending, though I can’t picture him anymore.
Most of the memory has slipped through my fingers, but a part still lives in me, vivid enough to feel even now: the smallness.
I shrank, like Alice after eating the mushroom. Everyone was watching, waiting for me to agree with this adult just because he was an adult. Even though it was my name. And the longer they stared, the smaller I got. I was drowning in my desk, surrounded by all these giants with easy names. Despite ten years of distance from that classroom, my hands still sweat.
When I think of it, my chest still tightens.
Right as I began to taste the acceptance of “Julie” on the tip of my tongue, a girl I’d never met before said, “There’s no such thing as too-complicated names. My mama says only lazy people say that.”
Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. Gandalf and the Rohirrim arriving at Helm’s Deep. The little crowd in my brain goes wild.
There was no more discussion after that. Everyone’s called me Juliette since.
That is the one and only reason I don’t hate Priya Pendley.
Even after she told Milo DeMontes she thought I was obnoxious. Even after I begged for a different science fair partner because she was annoying and bossy. Even after I beat her in the spelling bee and she said it didn’t count because “Of course Juliette can spell argumentative.”
Out of respect for our seven-year-old selves, I come to her ridiculous birthday party every year.
The first Priyatopia was very normal—store-bought decorations and everything. After that, it escalated quickly. Carnival rides for her tenth. Mirror mazes and art installations at thirteen. Last year, Hozier performed a song he’d written specifically for Priya. Seventeen did a feature on this year’s party titled “Birthday Queen Turns Seventeen (We Ask Social Media Darling Priya Pendley How She Invented the Next Coachella).” Priya’s glossy glamour shot took up two pages.
Oh, wait. Sorry. Before we move on, can we talk about how she calls it Priyatopia? It’s plastered everywhere. I have a theory that if a guest stands still for more than two minutes, Priya herself comes over and spray-paints her name across their body. In white or gold, obviously.
And she had the nerve to call me obnoxious.
I feel distinctly impoverished as I pull through the Pendleys’ gates into their winding driveway, already lined with luxury cars on both sides. I maneuver my crappy old Honda Civic between a Mercedes and a BMW and begin the hike up to the house.
The Pendley Mansion sits on an ungodly large parcel of land. Impeccably manicured, but you already knew that. The house itself is a gleaming stone and glass monstrosity that I’ve spent entirely too much time in over the course of my sixteen short years, which is how I know to follow the path around back, past clusters of networking C-list celebrities.
Usually, I love this time of year—the liminal space between final exams and the start of camp. Warm breezes linger after nightfall and they always smell like a trip to the state fair. Well, minus the post-Gravitron corn dog vomit. I fear that one day I’ll begin associating this weather not with campfires and kayaking but with thumping dubstep and this gaudy arch of white-and-gold balloons spelling out priyatopia.