Sixteen-year-old Neema Powell was always the best-looking girl in school. Her girlfriends said that she looked like Beyonce, with beautiful caramel skin and a body others would kill for. But right now she was a wreck. Her mother's sleazy boyfriend was towering over her screaming, "Get out!" And her own mother wouldn't even look at her as she walked out of the apartment into the dead January day. Neema knew that Nate, her boyfriend, would take care of her. I'll give Mom a couple of days to calm down, Neema thought, and I'll swing by to pick up a few items. Like my pills. A couple of days couldn't hurt. But those two days made all the difference, and Neema must draw from somewhere deep for the inner strength she will need.
After two years in a loving home, TJ's mother got him back. She was clean. No pot. No meth. His chest felt like it was burning. His heart was racing. Trapped. He felt trapped. He didn't have a say. Everything he had come to care about would be gone: Miss Dixie, hot meals, friends, Mae's little hand, and Annabelle. And the brutal life he'd escaped quickly reclaimed him. Kaden Cruz didn't run after him. Instead his voice boomed, "You owe us." TJ didn't look back. But he knew this wasn't the end of Kaden Cruz. He could still hear his father's voice. "It's not free. You'll have to pay them back one day."
Gabby Herrera is not like her perfect sister, Celia--straight-A student, obedient, responsible. Her parents don't get it. They don't get er C-average report card. Her love for basketball. "The three of them think anything is possible if you just try hard enough. Well, I've tried. It's not possible." She can't be who she is unless she is just like them. And if she's not like them, she's not a real person. She's a broken person. A broken Herrera. And that is unacceptable.
Cindy lives in a fancy gated community. Philip lives in a tacky trailer park. Which of them comes from a loving home?
Dale has a chance to "go pro" right out of high school. Will he make the grade? In spite of his youth, his skills are superb. Only his trouble-making brother stands between Dale and his lifetime dream. But his brother is all the family he has.
To Wesley Chan, Zoe is beautiful in spite of her messy hair, ragtag clothes and smart mouth. His parents disapprove of their relationship.
The boys claim that they were only kidding. But their harassment pushes one girl right to the edge.