Chelsea Morris has always been responsible, dependable, and focused on her dreams of fashion designa dream that will officially begin come fall, when she leaves for college in New York City. And as she settles into her role as the lead designer for the local summer stock theater group, she decides to make the most of her last summer in North Carolina. But with her best friend Emily busy working late and spending time with Zander, and tensions with Chelsea’s boyfriend, Todd, running high, the summer she envisioned seems to be falling flat.
Then Dylan joins the latest summer production. There’s something about the college boy that makes her feel free and alive, and soon she’s broken up with Todd, and is sneaking out late to meet Dylan at parties and breaking rules at the playhouse. But before she knows it, her exciting nights are interfering with her job, her role on the play, as well as her relationship with Emily and with her parents. Worse, Chelsea finds herself feeling more and more estranged from God.
As the summer becomes wilder than she ever dreamed, Chelsea must decide if her heart is leading her in the right direction after all.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at Amy Clipston.com; Facebook: Amy Clipston Books; Twitter: @Amy Clipston; Instagram: @amy_clipston.
Read an Excerpt
Miles from Nowhere
By Amy Clipston
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 Amy Clipston
All rights reserved.
I cupped my hand over my mouth to stifle a yawn and attempted to get more comfortable in the old wooden theater seat near the back of the auditorium. I wasn't yawning because the auditions were boring. Far from it. In fact, I loved attending auditions, especially since we were gearing up for a big summer musical production of Grease at the Cameronville Community Theater. I crossed my legs and smoothed my hands over my colorful skirt.
Summer productions had always been my favorite, since practices could be held five afternoons a week. And that meant my last summer before college would be all theater, all the time. Well, except when I was working the breakfast shift at the Fork & Knife, the restaurant that my boyfriend Todd's parents owned.
"Jimmy, please turn to page one seventeen and read the part of Danny," Jeff Muller, the director, bellowed from his seat near the front of the theater. "And Britney, please read the part of Sandy on the same page."
A tall, dark-haired, muscular boy walked to center stage flanked by a skinny blonde girl—Jimmy and Britney. They'd both graduated with me a few weeks ago, and both of them had played the lead roles in the last musical production at our high school. I'd heard that Britney was planning to go to the university —almost everybody just called it "U"—with me in the fall.
As the actors began reading the lines, I glanced at my phone hoping to find a text from Todd. I'd expected him to meet me here nearly an hour ago, and I couldn't help but worry. It wasn't like him to be late. Normally, he was as predictable as the ocean tide.
"Thank you!" Mr. Muller said when the actors had finished the scene. "Next!"
For the next hour or so, I watched intently as a parade of potential actors read lines for the various parts, two at a time. Eventually, my mind wandered as I envisioned the costumes for each character. Ever since I was in elementary school, it had been a dream of mine to be the lead costumer on a summer production. Now that my dream had finally come true, I was anxious to get started. I decided I'd better write down my ideas before I forgot them.
As two more actors walked onstage and received their instructions from Mr. Muller, I retrieved my sketchbook and a pencil from my bright green messenger bag and turned to a fresh page. I began listing the costumes I'd need to create or assemble for Grease: poodle skirts, bobby socks, black leather jackets for the boys, pink denim jackets for the Pink Ladies, jeans, formal dresses for the dance scene, letterman sweaters, cheerleading—
"Hey." A tall body slipped into the seat beside me, interrupting my list making. "How's it going?"
I looked up to see Todd. At five foot ten, he stood over me by nearly five inches. He wore his dark brown hair in a messy but layered style that completely covered his ears and almost his eyes, which reminded me of melted chocolate. He was slender but definitely not weak. I'd seen him carry some heavy pieces of plywood while working on set design back in high school.
When I'd first met Todd two years ago, his nearly constant sullen expressions made him seem aloof. Yet when we worked together on the senior production of Aladdin this spring, I'd discovered that Todd is actually shy. He hadn't been ignoring me before; instead, he'd been afraid to talk to me. That part had surprised me quite a bit since I tend to talk to everyone on the cast and crew—even if they aren't all that interested in me.
After our first conversation, Todd and I began talking every day, and pretty soon he worked up the nerve to ask me out on a date to the Dairy Barn to grab a milk shake. Not long after that, he asked me to the prom. We'd been dating since then.
"Hi." I pushed a stray piece of hair behind my ear and leaned toward him, inhaling the aroma of french fries mixed with bacon. "Where have you been?" I asked in a low voice, even though I could tell by the smell that he'd been cooking at his parents' restaurant.
"Working." He slumped lower in his seat and folded his arms over his chest. "Maggie went into labor this morning, so you're looking at the new head cook of the Fork & Knife. Well, head cook in training, really."
"Congratulations. I thought Maggie's baby wasn't due for a couple of weeks yet." I thought back to earlier in the day when I'd been working. "You know, she did look kind of uncomfortable when I saw her this morning."
"Yeah, her water broke soon after you left work."
"Oh my!" I squeaked, prompting Todd to place a finger to his lips as a reminder to keep my voice down. "Did she have the baby yet?" I whispered. "She had a feeling she was having a boy, so she only picked out a boy's name. Since she was prepared to have a boy, she'll most likely have a girl. At least that's what my nana always said."
"I have no idea if the baby's arrived yet or what it is. Last I heard, Maggie was still at the hospital."
"Wow." I tried to imagine Maggie, the meticulous, outspoken cook, holding her baby in the delivery room. Would she criticize the hospital food while she was recovering after the birth? The question lingered in my mind until Todd spoke again.
"I was going to text you, but it got crazy at work." He gestured toward his stained jeans. "I knew I was already late, so I didn't bother going home to shower. I'm sorry I stink."
"You smell just fine to me." I smiled at him, and he shook his head.
"You're crazy, Chelsea Morris."
"That's why you like me," I quipped, and he grinned back at me.
Music director Louise Muller's voice echoed through the auditorium as she instructed Jimmy and Britney, the two actors who'd read for Danny and Sandy earlier. "I'd like to hear you sing 'Summer Nights.' "
"Those two kind of look like Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta," I whispered to Todd.
"I was just thinking the same thing." He moved closer to me.
"Is your dad going to hire another cook?"
Todd grimaced. "No."
"He told me I'm the cook until Maggie comes back in six weeks." He gave me a look of disbelief.
"What about the musical?" My voice pitched unnaturally high at the end, and I was thankful the piano was playing louder than I was talking. I didn't want Mr. Muller to yell at me before the production even began. Last year, the lead actor, who was also the quarterback of the football team at a nearby high school, got on the director's bad side early on during rehearsals. And Mr. Muller had sent him home in tears more than once before opening night.
Todd held his finger to his lips again, silently cautioning me to keep my voice down. "My dad wants me to pick up more hours not only to fill in for Maggie, but also to earn more money for college. My scholarships for U will only cover so much. And I'm just doing the lighting for Grease, so I don't need to be here every day."
I couldn't help but frown at that. "It won't be the same without you here building the sets while I'm tailoring the costumes."
"I promise we'll still see each other this summer." He held my hand. I loved the heat of his skin against mine. "At least we'll still work together at the restaurant. You know I'd go crazy if I didn't see you every day."
"I'm going to hold you to that promise." My mood brightened when he smiled.
We sat in silence while a few more actors took turns singing. But their voices were only background noise as I ran through a mental list of what I'd need to get started on the costumes. First, I'd check my boxes at home and look for any costumes I could modify. After that, I'd start hitting the thrift shops and even a couple of other community theaters in the area.
"Dylan McCormick!" Mrs. Muller called another actor onstage, and her voice broke through my thoughts. "I'd like to hear you sing 'Greased Lightning.' "
A blond young man jogged to center stage, and I surmised he was a college student using the summer production as an internship opportunity. He was taller than Todd, and he was muscular. His handsome face looked confident as he waited for the music to begin. As Dylan bellowed the lyrics of the chorus, his smooth voice drew me in completely.
"He's good," I whispered to Todd. He gave a snort of disbelief while keeping his eyes focused on the stage. "What's that supposed to mean?" I asked.
"I know the type." Todd shifted in his seat. "He thinks he's the hotshot headliner."
I studied Todd's profile. "How can you tell what's he like just by listening to him sing?"
"Trust me. I can tell by his demeanor. He thinks he's all that, but he's a lot of hot air and no substance."
"That's not a nice thing to say about someone. You don't even know him."
"I've been around the theater scene long enough to know how to spot the arrogant ones who think they should have their names up in lights on the marquee."
"Okay, but you used to be afraid to talk to me." I lightly bumped his shoulder with mine. "Your first impression of me was all wrong."
"No, not really." Todd looked at me and his smile was back. "I always get nervous around pretty girls—especially redheads like you."
I felt my cheeks heat up as I turned my attention back to the stage where Dylan was finishing the song. Todd and I sat in silence while the remaining actors completed their musical auditions.
Once it was finished, Todd took my hand in his as we made our way down the aisle toward Mr. and Mrs. Muller as they exited a row of seats near the front.
"Chelsea and Todd," Mr. Muller said. "I'm glad you came by." He focused on me first. "Are you ready to take on the costumes?"
"Absolutely." I nodded emphatically. "I'm so glad you picked me."
"You'll have an assistant." Mr. Muller studied his clipboard. "Kylie Buchanan wants to help you. She'll be a junior at Maywood High this fall."
"Great." I grinned. I have my own assistant!
"And you're doing the sound, right, Todd?" Mr. Muller asked.
Todd frowned. "I'm just going to do the lighting this year, if that's all right. I have to work full time this summer." He quickly explained the situation at his parents' restaurant.
"That's fine." Mr. Muller pulled off his glasses and gnawed on one end for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. "I'll just be happy to have you up in the booth, Todd. I'll let you know when we're ready to start the lighting plan."
Mrs. Muller smiled at us. "We'll make the cast announcement tomorrow, so you can get started on the costumes after that."
I rubbed my hands together. "I can't wait."
Todd and I said good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Muller and made our way to the parking lot where my silver 1985 Nissan Sentra station wagon sat next to his red 2000 Ford Focus coupe.
"Can you believe this is our last production before we leave for college?" I asked. "It seems like only yesterday I was a lowly freshman trying to convince Ms. Cooper that my ideas for Belle's gown in Beauty and the Beast were good enough for the Cameronville High School production."
"It is pretty amazing. But we'll be working on productions at the university soon enough."
"Can you come over for supper?" I dropped my messenger bag by the back bumper of my car. "The twins have been asking about you. You haven't played with them in almost a week."
"I wish I could." He leaned against the back of his car. "But I'm exhausted, and I need to be at work early tomorrow. Dad wants to show me how to open the restaurant." He touched my cheek. "I'll take a rain check, though. Tell my little buddies I'll be over as soon as I can, and we'll continue our video game marathon." He leaned down and I closed my eyes as his lips brushed mine, causing my heart to thump against my rib cage.
"I'll see you at work tomorrow."
As Todd climbed into his car, I scanned the parking lot and spotted Dylan talking with Jimmy and Britney next to a yellow Camaro on the other side of the lot. Dylan met my gaze and nodded. The gesture caught me off guard, and by the time I nodded back, he'd already returned his attention to their conversation.
Todd must be wrong about Dylan, I thought, as I tossed my bag onto the passenger seat of the car and climbed in. Dylan seemed like a nice guy. And if he got a part in Grease, I wondered if I'd have an opportunity to get to know him better.
* * *
"Can you believe it, Mom?" I set a bowl of baby carrots in the middle of the kitchen table as Mom finished making supper. "Mr. Muller called and asked if I'd be willing to do it, and now I'm actually the head costumer for Grease ! I'm even going to have an assistant!"
"We're proud of you, Chelsea." Mom opened the oven door, and the aroma of baked chicken filled my nose. "Just remember that the musical isn't your only obligation this summer. You have to keep your job at the Fork & Knife. You'll need that money to buy your textbooks and pay for gas when you're away at school. And I need your help with the boys too. I'm counting on you to pick up Justin and J.J. at day camp on Thursday afternoons when I have to work late at the pediatrician's office. They're shorthanded now that one of the assistants quit."
"I haven't forgotten about your schedule or my other obligations, Mom." I retrieved a stack of dishes from the cabinet and began setting the table. "And I won't forget the twins either. I never have in the past."
"I know that, but sometimes you get so wrapped up in your costume designs that you overlook your other responsibilities."
I wanted to defend myself and tell Mom she was wrong about my priorities, but I decided to let it go. I knew I'd never win a debate with her. At least she'd agreed to let me work part time at the restaurant and spend my afternoons working on the production. I was better off than my best friend, Emily Curtis. She had to work full time at the auto body collision repair shop where her dad and boyfriend worked.
Mom placed the chicken on a platter while I set out the silverware next to the place settings. "When will the cast be announced?"
"Tomorrow," I said. "I can't wait to get started on the costumes."
"I love Grease," Mom said with a faraway look in her eyes. "When I was in high school, my best friend and I would have sleepovers at each other's houses, and we watched Grease and Grease 2 every weekend. We knew those movies by heart."
I laughed as I tried to imagine my mom as a teenager singing "Beauty School Dropout" while dressed in her pajamas. "The stage production is a little different from the movie."
"Really?" Mom handed me the platter of chicken. "I had no idea." She turned toward the family room, and her bright red chin-length bob swished as she moved. "Justin! J.J.! Dinner!"
"When will Jason be home?" Usually, my stepfather was home by now. I cut up a chicken breast and divided the pieces evenly between the plates of my five-year-old half brothers.
"Any minute now. He said he had to finish a report and put it on his boss's desk before he left." Mom poured three glasses of iced tea. "He's been working on a really big project, and he's hoping it leads to a promotion. He's been passed over so many times now, and the other jobs he's applied for haven't panned out."
Justin and J.J. (whose given name was Jason Jr., after their father) bounced into the kitchen and took their usual seats at the table.
"Chicken?" J.J. clapped his hands. "Yay!"
"Yuck," Justin grimaced. He was identical to J.J. except for a small mole on his right cheek. "I hate chicken."
"That's too bad, Justin," Mom said. "You're going to have to eat it anyway."
I placed the glasses on the table. "Are we going to wait for Jason?"
"I guess we should go ahead and eat," Mom said. "I don't want it to get cold."
"When will Daddy be home?" J.J. asked.
"He'll be home soon." I added some baby carrots to their plates. "Your daddy had to finish up some work."
"That's right," Mom chimed in.
After Mom and I took our seats, I said a prayer for our meal. Then I asked my brothers about their day at camp, and they filled our suppertime with enthusiastic stories about craft projects, snack foods, and kickball tournaments.
My stepfather finally arrived home while we were finishing our bowls of ice cream for dessert. After helping Mom with the dishes, I gave the twins a bath while she folded laundry.
After the twins were settled in front of their video games, I made my way up the stairs to my room, which was located over the attached garage of our brick ranch-style house. While the room had seemed cramped when I shared it with my older sister, Christina, it was fairly spacious now that she'd moved out. I made the room my own as soon as Christina left for college. I painted the walls bright turquoise and peppered them with my favorite pages from the fashion magazines I'd collected since I was a little girl. I found matching urn lamps with paisley shades at the thrift shop and put one on my nightstand and the other on my desk.
Excerpted from Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston. Copyright © 2015 Amy Clipston. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Chelsea Morris life is perfect. It is the summer between high school and college and things couldn't get any better. She has great friends, a part-time job she likes, a wonderful boyfriend, and to top it off, she was just named head costumer for the local theater's production of Grease. She even has an assistant! Things begin to change though when Chelsea's friends and boyfriend are stuck working a lot of hours at their jobs and she finds herself alone or at the theater. There she meets Dylan, one of the actors in the play. Dylan could be described as the bad boy of the theater and he sets his sights on Chelsea. Even though she is warned about Dylan's reputation from many people she is drawn to him. What starts out as an innocent friendship soon changes into a summer Chelsea won't forget. The once responsible Chelsea soon finds herself making decisions she knows aren't right but can't seem to stop herself. Her family and friends notice the change in her but she shrugs it off to have her summer of fun. Can she stop her downward spiral before it's too late? I was given an advanced copy of this book to read and must admit I was a little hesitant at first. After all, I'm not exactly a young adult and I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book much or at all. Just a few pages in my mind was made up--I loved this book! This book captured my attention from the first page and I couldn't put the book down. When life interrupted my reading I couldn't wait to get back to reading to see what was going to happen next. Miles from Nowhere is a great story told as just the right pace to keep the reader interested. The characters are well developed and authentic. The book has a good message that is delivered in a way that isn't preachy or overbearing. Amy has a way of writing that makes you care about the characters and what is happening in their lives. Miles from Nowhere is a good read for the young adult and not-so-young adult alike. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have provided.
Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston is a new young adult Christian book. Chelsea Morris has just graduated from high school and it is her last summer before college. Chelsea is working part-time at the Fork and Knife, lead costumer for Cameronville Community Theater’s production of Grease, and helps out her mother around the house and with her younger twin brothers. Chelsea has always been a good and responsible young woman, but she is feeling restless and wants to have some fun. Todd, Chelsea’s boyfriend for the last three months, also works at the Fork and Knife which is owned by Todd’s parents. Todd is working full-time as a cook and is tired at the end of the day. This leaves an opening for Dylan McCormick. Dylan is in Grease and has been flirting with Chelsea. When Dylan invites Chelsea to a cast party, she wants to go. Todd, though, is too tired. Chelsea ends up going by herself and this is the start of her downfall. Chelsea ignores warnings from friends and continues to go to Dylan’s parties. Chelsea is soon sneaking out of the house, drinking alcohol, forgetting her responsibilities, and showing up late for work. She also takes advice from Dylan which backfires. Miles from Nowhere is a well-written and deals with serious issues (drinking and driving, responsibilities, forgiveness). It tells of the consequences of bad actions and decisions. I had trouble getting into this book and connecting with the characters. I give Miles from Nowhere 3.75 out of 5 stars. I think I will stick with Amy Clipston’s Amish stories (which I love). I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.