Tilt

Witnessing the fallout from the poor choices their parents make and the lies adults tell themselves, three teens are clinging to the last remnants of the secure and familiar world in which they’ve grown up. But the ground is shifting. What was once clear is now confused. Everything is tilting.

Mikayla is sure she’s found the love her parents seem to have lost, but is suddenly weighing nearly impossible choices in the wake of dashed expectations. Shane has come out, unwilling to lie anymore about who he is, but finds himself struggling to keep it all under control in the face of first love and a horrific loss. Harley, a good girl just seeking new experiences, never expects to hurtle towards self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Inspired by teen characters first introduced in her adult novel, Triangles, Ellen Hopkins crafts a wrenching story that explores the ways we each find the strength we need to hold on when our world’s been tilted completely off its axis.


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Tilt Excerpt

    Tilt

    Should the sun beat

    summer too fiercely

    through your afternoon

    window, you can

                                                   slant

    the blinds to temper

    heat and scatter light,

    sifting shadows this way

    and that with a

                                                   lean

    of slats. And if candor

    strikes too forcefully,

    step back, draw careful

    breath and consider the

                                                               angle

    your words must take

    before you open

    your mouth, let them leak

    out. Because once you

                                                                     tilt the truth,

    it becomes a lie.

    Mikayla

    My World Tilted

    Completely off its axis the night

    I hooked up with Dylan Douglas.

    It was New Year’s Eve—five

    months ago—so maybe part of that

    earth-sway had something to do with

    the downers, weed and cheap beer,

    a dizzying combo on an empty stomach.

    What I know for sure is, when he came

    slinking up like a cougar—all tawny

    and temperamental—something inside

    me shifted. Something elemental.

    I, probably the oldest prude in my whole

    junior class, transformed into vamp.

    When he smiled at me—me!—I knew

    I had to make him mine. I would

    have done anything. Turned out, all

    I had to do was smile back. Just like

    that, we belonged to each other.

    Love at First Smile

    That’s what it was. He says so,

                and I agree. What kind of girlfriend

                            would I be if I argued about something

    like that? Not only that, but we

                fell in love as a new year began.

                            Symbolism there. And I didn’t need

    a resolution when a result had

                just occurred. All the hurt of

                            losing my last boyfriend—who was

    at the same party, slobbering

                all over my ex-good friend,

                            Tricia—dissolved, shaved ice in

    a cup of hot tea. Dylan is a hundred

                times the guy Josiah is. Thank

                            God I didn’t give my virginity

    to him. I didn’t give it to Dylan

                right away, either. Unlike Josiah,

    he never pressured me to. But after

    a couple of months, love spoke

                louder than fear. One night

                            we were mostly naked and

    all knotted up in each other’s

                arms. And the time just seemed

                            right to say, “I want to. Please.”

                Dylan was just so cute. Are you

                            sure? He said it right before

                                     I stripped off my panties. And

                he confirmed, You’re positive?

                            just as I pushed him inside me.

                                     I think I wanted it more than he did.

    And all that hype about awful

                pain? Well, that may be true

                            for some people. But, except for

    a couple of seconds of intense

                pressure, it didn’t hurt at all.

                            But it made our connection steel

    Loving Someone

    That much—so much he means

    more to you than anything—changes

    things. You lose friends, because

    you’d rather be with him than with them.

    I’ve always been popular. Cheerleader.

    Junior class president. Homecoming

    princess. All the girls wanted to hang

    with me. One was even a stalker.

    Now, they still smile and say hello,

    but the only ones who I’m really close

    to are Audrey and Emily. Both of them

    have sleepover boyfriends, at least when

    their parents aren’t home. That’s another

    thing love changes—your relationship

    with your parental units. It becomes

    them versus you, as if they’re afraid

    of losing you. Jealous of the person

    who can make that happen. News flash,

    Mom and Dad. I’ll be eighteen in a few

    months. You’ve already lost me.

    Now It’s Summer Vacation

    Definition: sleeping in. Lazy days

                at Tahoe. Parties. And that leads me to

                deception. Because here’s the thing

    about parents. Mostly, they don’t want

    their kids to have fun, at least not

                if it involves underage drinking,

                illegal substances and the possibility

    of sex. This is the first party of

    the summer. I plan on an all-nighter.

                Which means I can’t say I’m going

                out with Dylan. So I invented a sleep-

    over at Emily’s. “Hey, Mom,” I call

    toward her bedroom. “I’m leaving

                now.” I grab my backpack and keys,

                start toward the door. I’m almost there

    when my brother comes out of the kitchen,

                yacking down a sandwich. Emily’s,

                            huh? Trace checks out my shorts,

                            the scoop of my tank. God, man,

                you look like a Fourth Street hooker.

    “When were you on Fourth Street?

              Anyway, know what they call a guy

              who looks at his sister’s attributes

    like that? Pervert.” His face turns

    the color of ripe watermelon flesh.

              Ka-ching! Got him. Trace is fifteen

              and never been kissed. At least, I’m pretty

    sure he hasn’t been. It’s not like I follow him

    around, and it’s not like he’d go

              bragging about it if he had. Trace is

              the so-quiet-you-have-to-wonder-what-

    he’s-hiding type. Except, that is, when

    it comes to ragging on me. “Tell

              Mom I said bye, okay?” I escape into

              the gentle warmth of late afternoon

    June. The party won’t start until after

    dark. But I don’t have to wait that long

              to see Dylan. He’s picking me up at

              Em’s. I see it as a French vanilla lie.

    Not totally white. But close enough.

    Emily’s Parents Aren’t Home

    So I don’t bother with the doorbell. “Hello?”

    No response but a meow from Monster Cat.

    Ah, now I hear giggling behind her bedroom

    door. She’s either on the phone or not alone.

    I probably shouldn’t barge in. Tyler’s probably

    in there, too. Instead, I text Dylan. HEY, BABY.

    COME GET ME. Just as he says he’s on his way,

    Emily comes out of her room, adjusting clothes,

    hair mussed and makeup smeared. Good call.

    “I take it Ty’s here?” They’ve been going

              out for almost a year. Serious love.

              Uh, no, actually. It’s not Tyler. It’s Clay.

    The look she gives me is half challenge,

    Half plea. Last time I looked, Clay happened

    to be going out with our mutual friend,

    Audrey. “Hey, I won’t tell.” But I can’t

    believe she’d cheat on Tyler. “Did you and

    Ty have a fight or something?”

              She smiles. Nothing like that. I just

              wanted to try something different is all.

    Something Different?

    God, I’m glad Dylan is everything

    I need. Two horn blasts tell me he’s outside,

    waiting. “Are you coming to the party later?”

    I don’t ask, “Are you coming with Tyler or Clay?”

              Probably. She grins. Depending.

    Whatever. All I really care about

    right now is Dylan. My pulse picks

    up speed as I hurry down the walk

    to his shiny green Jeep. He always

    keeps the Wrangler spotless. When

    he sees me, he gets out and waits,

    and his perfect smile spreads across

    his incredible face. God, he’s amazing—

    bronze skin beneath too-long blond

    hair that makes him look like a little boy.

    Well, except for the fact that he’s six

    foot two and buff as hell. He opens

    his arms. I give a little jump, and

    he’s holding me and we’re kissing.

    His lips are smooth and he tastes like

    peppermint. And I never want to stop.

              But he does. And he says, I love you.

    Three Words

    And everything bad in my life

              melts away. I look into the turquoise

              deep of his eyes. “I love you, too.”

    I tangle my hands into his hair,

              pull his face into mine for another

              kiss, this one hotter than the last.

              A passing car beeps going by.

                        Dylan draws back, laughing.

                        Maybe we should get a room?

    “Maybe.” We could probably

              get one inside. But then Dylan

              would find out about Clay.

    He and Tyler are friends.

              “Let’s get something to eat.

              Not good to drink on an empty

    stomach.” Experience has

              taught me that. Dylan agrees.

              But before he detaches himself

              totally from me, he slips a hand

                        down the scoop of my tank.

                        Can’t wait to kiss these, too.

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