The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare: A Novel

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare: A Novel

by M.G. Buehrlen

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Overview

“Forget popular books like The Hunger Games and Twilight, M.G. Buehrlen’s debut novel is something that every young adult fan should read” (The Founding Fields).
 
For as long as she can remember, seventeen-year-old Alex Wayfare has had visions of the past that seem so real they leave her breathless. For Alex’s visions actually wrench her from the present without warning, then return her with mysterious wounds and inexplicable aftereffects. Desperate for a normal life, Alex seeks to discover the meaning of her visions—and get rid of them.
 
Then Alex meets an enigmatic stranger who tells her the truth: She is a Descender, capable of traveling back through her fifty-six past lives by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Suddenly, descending back in time is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with blue eyes keeps showing up in each of her past lives.
 
But someone out there really doesn’t want Alex meddling with history. And they will stop at nothing to make sure her fifty-seventh life is her last . . .
 
Filled with “beautiful prose, an intelligent plot, and a heroine as fabulous as she is unique,” The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is an adventure unlike any you’ve ever experienced before (C. J. Redwine, The Defiance Trilogy).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626818477
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 04/12/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 702,148
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Disclaimer

This is the way my story begins. Not with a bang but a whimper. Nothing more than a calm voice, a careful smile, and a pair of spectacles perched on the tip of a thin nose.

But don't let that deter you. You'll be happy to know a bang comes in the end.

Literally.

Along with a kiss, a promise, a death, a broken heart, and an end to life as you and I would have known it.

Because that's the point everything changes. That's the point I mess everything up and send this world spinning down an entirely new path. It's the moment I look back and realize all the signs were there, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder from the very beginning, unblinking. It makes me wonder what might've been if I'd sought the truth about my visions earlier. If I hadn't been so afraid of what they meant. If I hadn't let my selfish anger get in the way. Maybe things would be better off now, in that alternate timeline. The one we'll never get a chance to experience. The one I erased.

Porter doesn't think so. At least he says he doesn't, but something's changed in his eyes. He looks at me differently now. He says I did nothing wrong. He says it over and over. That it was "meant to be." I know what he really means is this: what's done is done. You can't change a Variant in time.

Which is true. You can't. Not once you've created one. But Variants can change the future.

And trust me, sometimes that's much worse.

The Inquisition

Dr. Farrow sits across from me in a gray business suit. Her posture is impeccable. Her brassy hair is wrapped in a tight bun. A psychiatrist- issue notepad rests on her knees. The sun slants through the blinds of her huge corner office windows and draws lines of gold across the carpet. It traces shadows over my beat-up sneakers.

I expect Dr. Farrow thinks I'm like all the other troubled teens who walk through her door. She probably assumes my "acting out" stems from problems at home or school. And if I wanted to, I could tell her what she wanted to hear. Make it easy for her. Blame it all on Mom and Dad, on being unpopular at school, on depression, whatever. Take your pick. But I promised myself I'd tell the truth this time, no matter what. There was a chance, however minuscule, that Dr. Farrow could help me. Maybe she'd finally give me the answers I've been looking for. Maybe today, I'd find out what the visions meant.

So when she asks why I played a prank on my history teacher that ended up getting both of us suspended, I tell the truth.

It was supposed to be a joke. Something to embarrass him the way he embarrassed me in class all semester long. A little payback for the F on my recent essay. Only it got way out of hand. Before I knew it I was suspended for a week, Mr. Lipscomb decided to take off the rest of the semester (the coward), and my parents made me an appointment with a shrink. And not just any shrink — a psychiatrist straight from one of the best AIDA clinics in Washington DC.

It was all so humiliating.

I tell Dr. Farrow that my suspension last month never really sank in. It still feels like it didn't happen.

She straightens her thin-rimmed spectacles and blots her coral lips together. "How did your teacher's cell phone come into your possession in the first place?" She speaks slowly and calmly with no hint of judgment in her tone.

I shift on the oversized couch. The soft maroon leather squawks beneath my cords. AIDA's founder, Durham Gesh, stares down at me from his portrait on the wall. "I'm the AV assistant at school. Mr. Lipscomb scheduled to have a TV and DVD player set up for his next class, so I went to hook it up for him. It was his free period, so he wasn't in the classroom. And his phone was just ... sitting on his desk."

"So you used your authority as AV assistant to tamper with a faculty member's personal property?"

Putting it like that makes me feel even worse than I already do. I fight with my body to sit up straight, but all it wants to do is shrink down, turn to liquid, and seep into the couch cushions.

Dr. Farrow exhales through her nose with a slight whistle. "Do you mind telling me how you did it?"

I prop my ankle on my knee and finger a loose flap of rubber on the heel of my battered sneaker. "I swapped the phone's vibrator motor with a more powerful one. One that would sting if he had it in his pocket. Then I wired it so once it started vibrating, it wouldn't stop."

"And the explicit rap song ringtone?"

I don't mean to, I truly don't, but the corner of my mouth twitches as I try to suppress a grin. Dr. Farrow notices right away.

"Do you still find what you did amusing?"

"No." The urge to grin vanishes. I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose — the black-framed nerdy ones I've worn since I was six. "I just find it ironic. That song was already on his phone. I just set it to the ringtone. I wanted everyone to see the kind of person he really is."

"So that's why you chose to call his phone during an assembly, while he was at the podium addressing the entire school?"

The scene plays out in my head, as fast as a camera flash.

The Prank

I'm in the gym, watching from the top of the bleachers under a string of blue and gold school pennants as Mr. Lipscomb steps up to the podium at the center of the basketball court. He's so short he has to stand on a box to reach the microphone. He adjusts his shirt collar — not because it's uneven, but because he always does that when he's about to say something superior — and begins talking about how the mock trial team (his mock trial team) won state last year, and they plan on doing it again this year.

His lips are spread wide. His teeth glisten. His words are coated with supremacy. I crush my cell phone in my hand, remembering how he'd humiliated me the day before.

He'd held up my essay on early American colonies in front of the whole class. The red F in the top corner glared down at me. Several kids laughed. "Been reading too many sparkly vampire novels, Miss Wayfare?"

I honestly had no idea what he meant by that. I never read fiction, and I was too incensed by the F to try to decipher his insult. It was the fourth F he'd given me already that year, and it was only October.

"Watching too many werewolf and zombie movies?" he added.

I shook my head, totally confused.

"No? So you decided to make up something as absurd as cannibalism in Jamestown just to see if I was paying attention?"

Half the class turned in their seats to laugh and stare at me. Tabitha, the girl who's hated me since kindergarten (for reasons unknown, I swear), made a cough into her hand that sounded remarkably like, "Freak."

I don't think I'd ever gone so red in the face. I was livid. "I didn't make it up," I told Mr. Lipscomb. "There are eyewitness accounts. I can show you."

He walked down the aisle and dropped my essay on my desk. "Fiction." He said it like it was a dirty word. "Next time, stick to the textbook."

"The textbook is wrong," I mumbled, gripping the edges of my paper in both fists. Just because he'd never heard of the cannibalism cases in Jamestown didn't mean they weren't true.

He made his way back to the front of the class and directed everyone to form groups for midterm projects. Everyone except me. With a smirk he said, "Alex, you can work on your own this time. You can jeopardize your grades all you want, but I won't have you bringing the others down with you. Unlike you, they aspire to graduate."

Yeah. The prick.

So back in the gym, I squeeze my phone in my fist so hard that this time I nearly bruise my palm. I was right about the cannibalism. Not only had I read eyewitness accounts at the library, but I'd actually seen what those people were reduced to during the Starving Time. That's what my visions do — they show me the past in vivid, stomach- wrenching detail. I don't know how it works, or why it happens. All I know is when I was fifteen, I had a vision that made me feel like I was there, like I was one of the starving colonists living in Jamestown. I wandered through the settlement, my stomach yawning with such hunger that even the leather on my shoes looked appetizing. I saw a mother rocking a dead child in her arms. I watched a man climb into a grave he had dug himself, resigning to death. I looked on as another man was hung by his thumbs for carving up his dead wife like a Thanksgiving turkey.

I still feel the sting of that vision. I live with the terrifying bite of it every day. My dreams are plagued by it. Especially after a few days at the library proved all those horrific things I saw actually happened. There really had been a Starving Time, and there really were eyewitness accounts of all I had seen. Somehow that made the nightmares worse. So for Mr. Lipscomb to say it never happened, to look me in the eye after class that same day and refuse to let me prove I was right ... Well. I just thought I deserved a bit of justice.

So I dial his number.

His phone rings in his pocket. The vibrator motor stings his thigh, and he shrieks into the microphone. He actually shrieks. The ringtone peels through the gym, the rapper rhyming about beating up his cheating girlfriend "because she deserved it" and dropping the F-bomb every other word. The entire student body bursts into howls of laughter. Mr. Lipscomb's face is as white as his starched collared shirt, and he swears as he fumbles to rip the phone from his pocket. Not once or twice, but half a dozen times. Each explicit word amplified through the speakers. Then, as if that weren't enough, his foot slips off the back of the box he's standing on. He topples to the floor, still swearing.

By this time, the gym resembles the primate house at the zoo. Whooping, hollering, feet beating on bleachers. Mrs. Gafferty, our principal, and three other teachers gather around Mr. Lipscomb and escort him out the side doors. Mr. Caswell, the boys' gym coach, manages to calm everyone down with his drill sergeant voice and glare. The rest of the assembly is canceled, and soon we're all filing out into the hallway in uniform lines to the tune of muffled laughter and countless retellings of the Mr. Lipscomb Incident.

Part of me feels awful for him. My little prank was supposed to make me feel better, but seeing him shriek and swear and fall like that ... It didn't bring me any satisfaction. All it did was make me feel like I couldn't breathe right. Like there was something heavy and cold sitting on my chest.

Not even an hour after the assembly, Mrs. Gafferty called me into her office. I guess Mr. Lipscomb only has one enemy.

The Whole Truth

After I relay all this to Dr. Farrow — all but the part about actually being in Jamestown; I'll save that for later — her expression softens even more. Almost like she sympathizes. "Was this your first time to the principal's office?"

"No."

She makes a motion with her hand, inviting me to elaborate.

I heave a sigh, then hand it all over to her. "There was the time I wired the bell to ring two minutes early for each class. By the end of the day we all got out of school like fifteen minutes before we were supposed to. None of the teachers complained, but Mrs. Gafferty knew it was me."

"Why did you do it?"

"Because Mr. Lipscomb always holds us after the bell during last period. Half the kids always miss their bus. The parents call and complain, but he keeps doing it. I don't think that's fair."

Dr. Farrow lifts her pointed chin. "Anything else?"

I pick at the loose flap of rubber on my sneaker again. "I may have posted a few of Tabitha's personal text messages on the cafeteria's scrolling message board ..."

"How did you ...?" Dr. Farrow holds up her hand and shakes her head. "Never mind. I don't need to know."

I sink lower into the couch cushions.

She hovers her pencil above her notepad. "Tell me what you like to do, Alex. What are your hobbies?"

"I don't know. I guess I like to fix things."

"Yes, I gathered that you're tech savvy. But what else?"

I think about that for a long while. Normal girls would say they liked volleyball or texting or going to the mall. I could lie and say I liked those things too, but I don't. I tell the truth again. "I like to stay in one place."

She stares down her thin nose at me. "What do you mean?"

"I mean ..." How can I put it in terms the PhD with dozens of framed degrees and certificates wallpapering her office can understand?

Dr. Farrow squints her eyes and sucks in her cheeks. She looks like she's trying to bore a hole in my brain and pluck the answer out herself. I wonder if she learned that technique at Johns Hopkins.

"Do you mean you prefer to stay at home?" She says it like she just uncovered one of my major secrets. By simply staring at me.

I shrug. "I guess that's one way to put it."

She scribbles something onto her notepad. "What do you like to do at home? Watch TV?"

It would have been so simple to say yes. Yes, Dr. Farrow, that's why I'm a pariah of my own making. That's why I have no friends and I'm failing eleventh grade. I'm obsessed with television. Totally consumed by it. Is there a cure?

"No," I say. "The only time I watch TV is during movie nights with my family. And even then, I only watch the same few classics over and over. Arsenic and Old Lace, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca. Those kinds of things."

"Do you play video games?"

"No."

"Read, then?"

"Never."

She lifts an eyebrow. "Not even for school?"

I tug the sleeves of my navy blue sweater down over my wrists and clutch them in my palms. "Well, some. Only when I have to, or if my sisters want me to read to them. But I never read on my own. And never any fiction."

"What do you do when you have a literature assignment?"

"I find the summaries online. That way it's fact, not fiction. Gatsby did A, B, and C. That's as far as I go."

"And you find that results in adequate grades on your assignments?"

I look down at my fingernails. "I get by." I'm not sure why I lie that time. Dr. Farrow knows I'm failing my junior year.

She tilts her head to the side, moving on. "What's wrong with reading fiction?"

I shift on the couch, and the leather squawks again. "I don't like being someone else ... slipping into someone else's life. Fiction takes me too far away. To other places. Other worlds."

I get enough of that already, I want to add.

She nods slowly. "And you like staying at home. I see." She flips a page on her notepad and scribbles some more. When she finishes, she looks me in the eye. "It sounds like you may have a fear of imagination. Of role playing. That's why you try to stay away from anything fictional. Television. Video games. Books. You want to stay in the real world. Am I right?"

Not exactly, I want to say. It's not like I fear fictional things. It's that I fear what kind of vision they'll bring on.

When I don't answer, she continues. "And I suppose that's why you're OK with reading history, like you did for Mr. Lipscomb's class. History isn't fiction."

A slight smirk hitches on my lips. "I'd hardly call what we learn in history class fact, Dr. Farrow." I peel the piece of flappy rubber sole from the bottom of my sneaker and flick it onto her carpet. She follows it with her eyes, frowning.

"OK," she says, drawing out the word. "All history isn't necessarily fact, but you know what I mean. It's not written in the style of fiction. It's written like a summary."

"I still don't read it. Not unless I have a point to prove."

"Why is that?"

I chew the inside of my cheek, once again fighting the urge to lie. Lying was so easy. It hardly fixed anything, but it always stopped people from asking too many questions. Like the ones Dr. Farrow asked now. "I don't read history for the same reason I don't touch cats. Or ride Ferris wheels. Or go anywhere near boats or water."

"And why's that?"

I drop my foot to the floor and clasp my hands between my knees. "Because I don't want to have déjà vu."

"And you have déjà vu when you touch a cat?"

"No." I toss my head back with a groan and stare at the white paneled ceiling. There's a yellowed water stain in the corner. "I mean yes. I did have. Once. When I was four."

"Tell me about it."

I close my eyes and tell myself I have nothing to lose. What was the worst Dr. Farrow could do to me? Send me to a mental institution? I was pretty sure I'd have déjà vu there too. It wasn't something you could hide from.

I look down at my hands, pressing my slick palms together as tightly as I can. I watch my fingers turn red and my knuckles turn white.

Then I tell her everything.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare"
by .
Copyright © 2014 M.G. Buehrlen.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Needs 2 b a series
sgrant4 More than 1 year ago
I have to say of all the time traveling books I've read I have to say I really enjoyed this one more so than the others (granted it hasn't really been that many I have read, but still). I do have to say that I was not all that fond of the personality of the main character Alex Wayfare in the beginning of the book, she was pretty much one of those "mean girl" types that I went to high school with with a piss pour attitude towards everyone, however she was much more bearable in the end. With that being said I have to say it's a pretty good read if you like a little scifi mixed with humor, action, and a tad of romance. I will probably read it again in the future.
jaimearkin More than 1 year ago
Alex can't explain some of the things that happen to her. She finds herself having 'visions' that feel so real, it's as though she was there when it happened, and that seems to be getting her in trouble.  What Alex finally finds out is that she's what is called a 'Descender'. She can travel back in time by accessing any one of her fifty-six past lives.  CAN YOU IMAGINE? I mean... I don't know if I believe in past-lives or anything, but it's definitely intriguing and Buehrlen definitely provides us with a story that kept me turning pages. I was so interested in the past lives that she had lived I wanted her to keep going back... alas, we only get to experience a few of them in this installment - though I'm definitely looking forward to book 2 to see where we go from there.  In addition to the time-travel aspect we definitely get some mystery and suspense as well as a bit of a romance that will give you some absolute swoons.  I truly enjoyed this read and if you like unique plots definitely add this to your 'to read' list!