Genre: Adult – Upmarket
Word Count: 98,000
For many at LaGuardia Arts, the daily commute from the outer boroughs to the “Fame” school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side represents the first step toward their dream of being a professional dancer.
In Gracey’s case, the trip starts in Howard Beach, Queens, a neighborhood notorious for its connection to organized crime. In fact, Gracey’s father has tenuous connections to this world, and is a crack addict who has spent half his life in prison. Her mother is so desperate to become a movie star that she neglects, and even places Gracey in danger to reach her goal of stardom.
As Gracey spends more time with her social climbing friends in Manhattan, she pulls further away from Howard Beach. But there’s one person she can’t forget: Michael, her childhood best friend, whose home life was even more chaotic than her own. Even mingling with the elite, Gracey can’t shake off the memory of how she and Michael tried to save one another, and how they lost touch. It isn’t until Gracey’s father and Michael return that she’s forced to choose between her new life and accepting her true self.
First 250 Words:
I was conceived in the basement apartment of my grandparents’ two-family home in Howard Beach, Queens. Where all the Italians live and eat New Park Pizza. Where the women curse you out from across the parking lot while their men pump iron at Gold’s Gym. Where one wrong move will have your name running through mouths, or featured in the Chronicle: “Man Gone Missing.”
My father had only been out of prison for a few days when my mother seized the opportunity to lose her virginity. They’d been high school sweethearts. He promised he wouldn’t make the same mistakes and go back to drugs. I’d always wondered why someone who prayed ten times a day, and sang in the church choir, would sleep with a convict, but they do say love is blind.
Mom told her grandmother to guard the basement door, and that her boyfriend, John, was coming over. Great-granny Rosaria, who would now be 106 years old, may she rest in peace, remains to this day the most open-minded member of our family. She was supportive of “the gays,” cross-cultural dating, and sex before marriage.
Only a few days after my parents’ romantic, or not so romantic, night together, my father was sleeping on a wooden bench in the local precinct, soon to be delivered back to a prison in the mountains of upstate New York. He’d broken parole, again, leaving my mother at home, with stunned parents, and a soon to be crying infant.