“Can’t we just love without being IN love?”
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 12,000 words (so far)
Status: In progress
Notes: Uses characters from a 1999 short story
When Megan Delgado was visited by the puberty fairy in fifth grade, she wasn’t ready for the kind of attention it brought. But she wasn’t about to play mouse to the snakes in her middle school, and she set about making herself scary. Now a sullen and outwardly intimidating senior in high school, Megan has no friends, and she likes it that way. She’d much rather be the eccentric art kid than fend off unwanted attention.
Megan’s pen-and-ink cityscapes are now earning her flirtation of a different sort: some scholarship reps have encouraged her to submit a portfolio for consideration, and suddenly art school seems not so much like a pipe dream. But with conflicting advice coming at her from all sides, Megan finds a surprising ally: a popular boy in her homeroom. Brady is fascinated by her in a way that, for once, does not seem predatory, and Megan soon realizes she does not know how to handle give and take in a friendship.
As Megan helps Brady ditch the unsatisfying aspects of his life as a high school golden boy, she secretly treasures his support and attention, but becomes confused as their relationship fizzles out where it would traditionally become romantic. And just as shockingly, Brady is on board encouraging Megan to explore what attractions she might be capable of experiencing—even if they might be to other girls, or no one at all. Megan’s never been a joiner, but her high school Gay/Straight Alliance gives her words for what she’s feeling—and not feeling—for the first time in her life. What she does with these revelations is still unclear. Should she date a girl? Should she kiss a boy? Should she listen to the people who think she needs to change or to the people who think she’s okay the way she is?
When Megan’s unique way of choosing art subjects leaves her with a lack of diversity in her portfolio, she’s forced to go outside her comfort zone to be eligible for new opportunities. And just when the only future she’s passionate about comes into reach, her sister shares news that could make Megan have to start from scratch. To salvage the potential she’s built, she’ll have to choose between trusting a boy-space-friend or leaning on a potential romance that keeps ringing her warning bells. Or there’s always the option to retreat back into her shell and let the future kick her plans in the face, which might ultimately be less painful than the alternatives.
Ace of Arts is a story about many kinds of love . . . where the most important relationship is a friendship.