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by Leslie Connor | Read by Lauren Fortgang

Sixteen-year-old Bettina’s rigid Greek-American father has taught her to kiss hardship goodbye, but it’s impossible in her increasingly complex life. Narrator Lauren Fortgang portrays Bettina with emotive tones that ring true. Bettina’s confusion becomes disbelief and then horror at the escalating brutality of her boyfriend, who once provided freedom from her strict home. Discovering real love with the older Cowboy, she struggles to hide the truth from others and herself. Fortgang achieves believable portraits of the secondary characters as well. She imparts the essential qualities of each—Bettina’s father’s control has a measure of protection, her mother’s timidity is steeped in caring, and Cowboy’s hesitancy is flavored with tenderness. All these relationships strengthen her portrayal of Bettina—as well as the story’s heartbreaking conclusion. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine