Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 70k
The senior year Mesa has pictured slips away when her grandmother Avis, mayor of Devil Springs, sets out to ban the devil from his hold on the town, particularly its teenagers. (Stupid skinny dipping cheerleaders and their stupid Facebook posts.)
Mesa’s Avis-strategy has always been to lay-low, follow the rules, and tick off the days until the freedom of graduation. It’s worked fine until Avis ratchets up both her expectations and restrictions. Hope chests and pamphlets on baptism start showing up in Mesa’s room, and a no-dating policy stands firm even after Mesa’s 17th birthday. Not a problem until the yummiest possible running partner on the track team wants to start training with her.
Mesa is sick of being bullied into fake piety, but standing up to Avis is a risk she’s never taken before. It could mean losing the small allowances she does have including her spot on the track team. As Mesa suffers under Avis’s judgement, her own disbelief cements. But when a storm rolls in on top of Avis’s devil-banning march and Mesa’s neighbor goes missing, what she really needs is a swell of faith.
Complete at 70,000 words, DEVIL SPRINGS is contemporary young adult fiction. It features the emotions of a doubting teen such as in Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost set in the southern grit of a Flannery O’Connor landscape.
Avis cries out in the kitchen, but I wait a second to see if I’m needed. Avis likes to holler.
“Mesa! Get in here!”
I toss my book aside and go. She stands at the sink, blood dripping from her finger.
“Get this out of the way,” she snaps, shoving a colander filled with strawberries toward me. She lifts her finger in the air and reaches to turn on the water with her other hand. I grab the bowl as the blood runs down her wrist and begins to seep into the cuff of her blouse, crimson blooming in white threads.
“It’s the devil attacking me.”
I’m pretty sure the paring knife she’d been using to hull the berries just slipped, and she cut herself, but I nod. My friend Kenzi and her mom will be here in ten minutes to pick me up for our senior picture appointment; I don’t need to get into it with Avis right now.
“He’s in this town. Staked his claim into its very name.”
This again. Avis has been trying to get the town name changed from Devil Springs to Life Springs for as long as I can remember.
“I’ll get the band-aids,” I say.
In a few quick steps, I’m at the hall bathroom with the entire plastic container of first aid trappings in my hands, but when I get back to the kitchen, I pause. Avis is talking, and it’s not to me.