Copyright @ 2016 by Anne Osterlund. Used by permission of Speak, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.

Aerin's Dilemma

She remained seated for a minute, then moved to the wide glass hanging on the wall. The face she saw in the reflection was already a stranger. Her sun-bleached hair had darkened, its natural brown strands brushed clean and straight. Her once bronze skin had paled around her high cheekbones and pointed chin, and though her ragged dress revealed the sharp points of her shoulders, elbows, and ribs, already the meals on board had begun to fill in the flesh around her bones.
She looked back at the black shirt, slacks, and boots on the bench. What person would she be when she changed into them?
Slowly her fingers reached up to slide the gray headband off her forehead. Even as she gazed down at the dyed V on the front of the band, she could still feel its imprint. Could she truly slip out of her past so easily? Relinquish it with the tattered rags?
Then her eyes flitted to the folded letter on the bench. She picked it up and tucked it into the bottom corner of the mirror. Could she brush off her memories and the last six years for a future thick with the unknown? Nothing could be worse than what she knew already. She wanted nothing left to remind her of the fields, the platforms, and the lasers. She would scrub them all away like she had the dirt from her bare feet. When she was done, there would not be a single sign of where she was from. Except for the brand on her shoulder, dark bars showing now where her wide neckline dropped down.


Chapter 1

prologue ~ chapter 1 ~ about academy 7 ~ home