Title: SEVEN OAKS – LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 69,000
Sixteen-year-old, Lily O’Brien is a beautiful loner that has been cast out of the popular high school clique.
She tries not to focus on high school drama or her dysfunctional family, but rather on her dream to become a singer. However, when her high school cancels all performing arts programs, including singing, that dream seems beyond reach. With the help of her fired singing teacher and mentor, she sets a plan in motion to win a scholarship to a boarding school that has a nationally rated singing program.
With enough to worry about, the last thing she needs to deal with is a new neighbor, the rich, cocky, and too cute for his own good, Aiden Cohen. Lily is reluctant, but to pacify her grandmother she agrees to be friends with Aiden.
What she doesn’t expect is how genuine and broken he is, and that the Cohen’s are not the epitome of the perfect family they portray. Lily helps Aiden deal with his dark family secret and they give into their mutual attraction. She falls for Aiden, but his reluctance to commit to their relationship and his lies leave her heartbroken.
Heartbroken and trying to nurse her Gram, the matriarch of the O’Brien family, back from a sudden heart attack, Lily puts her dream on hold. When she learns her alcoholic father gambled away the family’s money that was to pay property taxes, Lily does everything in her power to save their home, Seven Oaks Ranch. Normally, entering a Hollywood singing competition would be a dream come true, but not when the fate of Lily’s family home and their legacy all ride on her vocal talents.
I have a plan. I will sing my heart out, survive high school, and earn a scholarship to Berkley, where I can sing my heart out some more. Graduate and find a way to make money singing my heart out. Hey, at least I’m consistent.
Yesterday I found out said plan might blow up. Stressing, I hardly slept. I’m so tired, I’ll need toothpicks to keep my eyes open at school.
It’s not the jostling of the school bus that pulls me out of my zombie like state, but I overhear a few band members confirm what is the worst news of my life. The School Board canceled our drama and singing programs, but kept the band program.
I get off the bus a shell-shocked. I need this confirmed and head towards Mr. Lancalotti’s office or as we call him Mr. L. He’s not only my singing teacher, but I consider him my mentor.
Peeking through his office window, the first thing I notice are boxes. He’s packing. Crap, not a good sign. I take a deep breath and knock lightly.
His face softens when he sees it’s me and motions me in.
“Good morning, Lily.” His tone is tentative.
“Good morning… uh, I overheard some stuff on the bus, not good stuff, about our program, and I wanted to know if you could confirm it for me.” My stomach twists.
He swallows and can’t look me in the eye. “Yes, I’m afraid what you heard is true.”