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Sneak Peeks

Sneak Peek: THE MEADOWS by Stephanie Oakes

Sneak peek alert! Get ready for The Meadows by Stephanie Oakes, a queer, YA Handmaid’s Tale meets Never Let Me Go about a dystopian society bent on relentless conformity, and the struggle of one girl to save herself and those she loves from a life of lies. Coming September 12, 2023!

Everyone hopes for a letter—to attend the Estuary, the Pines, the Glades, the Meadows. These are the special places where only the best and brightest go to burn even brighter.

When Eleanor gets her letter, she knows she’s freed from her hardscrabble life by the sea, in a country ravaged by climate disaster. But despite the Meadows’ luminous facilities, endless fields, and pretty things, it keeps dark secrets.

Four years later, Eleanor and her friends seem free of the Meadows, changed but not in the ways they expected. Eleanor is an adjudicator, ensuring her former classmates don’t stray from the lives they’ve been conditioned to live.

But Eleanor can’t escape her past, or thoughts of the girl she once loved. Because Rose isn’t here anymore. And as secrets emerge that force Eleanor to grapple with her history, she must wage a dangerous battle for her own identity and for the full truth of what happened to the girl she lost, knowing if she’s not careful, Rose’s fate could be her own.

Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek!

Cover design: Elaine Demasco

The night I first saw Rose, the air was dim, blushing with dusty violet, as close as it got to night in the Meadows. Dinnertime. The girls would be inside the glowing walls of the dining room, straight-backed at white tables, eating their carefully portioned meals. From where I sat inside the yew tree, I could see for miles, a sea of purple flowers, hazy in the evening, stretching for what I knew was farther than a person could ever walk.

The shuttle was a slim black knife, cutting first with its glint, then with its sound. The rumble up the dirt road meant only one thing: another girl. Her hair, cut short at the sides. Her body, muscular. Stocky. She wore a shiny black raincoat, thick metal zipper laddering up the front—an alarming contrast to the thin white dresses we wore. Most of us were twelve, thirteen, fourteen when we arrived, but she was older. A dart of grief passed through me. The Meadows would strip all of it away. Her body, forced to be still, would lose its muscle, and her hair forced to grow, and that coat thrown out with the trash.

That coat. I didn’t know how it was possible but her coat, I could see, was stippled with rain. No rain in the Meadows. No snow. No weather of any kind.

This girl carried rain with her.

Two matrons met her at the door, bulky white figures with a hand hovering over her shoulders. The girl took a few paces, and paused. She turned, so even from the yew tree, I could see her face. For the first time, I had an awareness of how many muscles must live inside a human face. I could see them all, the anatomy of her.

Every girl who’d entered the Meadows wore the same face: wondrous, bright-eyed. Hands clutching their acceptance letters. Minds daring to imagine a future of easy breath in these bright halls and purple fields.

Rose’s face—nothing like that. Looking like it could grip the sky and rip it in half. Looking like she wanted to.

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Penguin Teen