A hundred years after the Great Financial Collapse widens the gap between America's rich and poor, an image obsessed socialite finds purpose in the life of a poverty-stricken teen when he becomes her Contender in a twisted game of the elite.
2022 Cascade Award winning novel
Seven years after her sister’s drowning, eighteen-year-old Vera still blames Red Rock, the walled fortress she calls home. If it weren’t for Red Rock, her sister would still be the eldest child of the most powerful man in this simple desert city. Vera would give anything to return to the carefree life she had back then. But when the great city gate grinds open for the much-anticipated Septennium Festival, thousands of ancient-looking outsiders clamor into town, and she can’t ignore the way they practically worship this place. Especially when she learns they are all searching for one thing—the secret of youth. But how can the place that has brought her so much pain be the source of all these outsiders’ joy?
When Vera learns her sister is still alive in the outside world, she questions how Mom and Dad could have kept this from her. But there’s no time to figure out her parents’ motives. She only has one week before the gate slams shut for the next seven years. Because citizens of Red Rock weren’t born to live on the outside. Now if she can’t make amends with Red Rock and persuade the city to share its secret of youth with her, she will pay for going after her sister with her life.
After a lifetime of abandonment, did Livia dare to dream of a family of her own?