Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Synopsis: Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.
When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion, a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world's population have mysteriously disappeared. But that's only the beginning...
All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.
Excerpt: I wasn't home when my stepmother found Mira’s e-mails stuffed under my mattress. She claimed she was gathering dirty clothes for the laundry, but I knew she was snooping. I was her least favorite of my dad’s three kids, and she’d been looking for a reason to get rid of me.
When I came home from school, my dad was in the living room, alone, sitting upright. He wore a fancy black business suit. Papers and brochures were sprawled out over the table.
He turned his head toward me in a slow, robotic fashion. “Sit down,” he said.
“What’s wrong, Dad?”
“Do what I say.”
“But I have homework to do—”
“Zipporah Green!” he screamed, way louder than he needed to. “I’m not going to say it again!”
I sat down and tried to pinpoint my crime. And then there it was, in printed form at the edge of the table: one of Mira’s recent e-mails, the one in which she said she wanted me to come visit her this summer. My dad tapped his sharp fingernails against the table. The expression on his face suggested I wouldn't escape this little chat alive. “I know about Mira,” he said. “I know all about your little friend from Seattle.”
The immediate pain in my gut almost doubled me over. For my father to be so condescending to call her my “little friend” made me want to pick up the living room table and throw it against the wall. “I've been meaning to tell you about her.”
“You've been talking to her online for two years? Honey, I know you've struggled trying to follow the righteous path of Jesus Christ. But never in my wildest nightmares could I have ever conceived you, my own flesh and blood, to be the most blasphemous of sinners.”
Was he being serious right now? “Dad, it’s not like that.”
He brought his fingers up to his sweaty chin. “What’s it going to look like if my own child is a homo...” He struggled with the word.
I didn't want to finish the word for him; he was a big boy. “A what, Dad?”
I should have been cordial. I should have just sat there with my little hands in my little lap and agreed with every statement he made. But that would have been too easy. “I don’t understand why you have to come down on me for this,” I said. “You're overreacting.”
“I'm not,” he said. He hadn't locked his eyes with mine since the start of our conversation. I always thought my dad to be close-minded, but I never took him to be a wimp. “I'm running for Kansas State Governor next year, Zipporah. If my opponents find out I have a lesbian daughter, I won't have a chance.”
I rolled my eyes. “So this is just about your career.”
“No. It's about way more than that.”
“Like what? Don't you want me to be happy? Mira makes me happy, Dad.”
“Of course I want you to be happy,” he said, his eyes still fixated on the table. “Just not like this. I love you, sweetheart, you know I do—but what you’re doing is wrong.”
“But Dad. It’s the only thing to me that’s right.”
I don’t think he heard me—at least, he pretended like he didn't. “Promise me, here and now, that you will suspend all communications with this girl.”
“No.” I didn't hesitate.
“You heard me.”
“Zipporah, I’m not asking. And I’m not gonna say it—”
“You don’t even know her!”
He sighed. “I don’t want to know her.”
I didn't give in, didn't nod my head in shame. I brought my hands to the table and stared him down. “If you could look past your hate for one second, you’d be able to see that she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“You can’t mean that.”
“I do,” I said. “She’s my best friend.”
“Your best friend? But you've never even met her. For all you know, she could be—”
“I love her, Dad.”
He finally looked at me. His neck turned so slow I heard his bones twisting. His eyes glowed a vengeful orange-black, like I had stepped into a cheesy Halloween movie about an Evangelical robot. “What did you say?”
“I love her. I do. And I know in my heart it’s right.”
“I can’t listen to another word of this.” My dad pushed away from the table, like just sitting near me made him uncomfortable. He shook his head and stood up, his hands shoved into his pockets. “Connie and I had a long talk about this. We've decided to send you away this summer.”
“It’s… a camp.”
“A camp?” I shuddered. I didn't know what to think. “What, like a summer camp?”
“It’s called Moral Inventories. It’s in Memphis. And it’s for teenagers like you who suffer from…” He searched for a word. “…abnormalities.”
“Abnor-what?” I looked away. I didn't want my father to see me cry.
He approached me from the side. His chiseled face emitted strobes of anger, but mostly resentment. “I've tried to guide you on the righteous path, but clearly I haven’t done enough, Zipporah. You need proper, around-the-clock assistance if you want to have any chance of being cured of this… disease.”
I sat there stupefied. I tried to think of something to say. I had nothing.
“You’re young, honey,” my dad said, in a calmer tone, “and I thank the Lord for that, because there’s time for you to be set free through the power of Jesus Christ. When our Lord and Savior returns to Earth and takes the Chosen up to Heaven, I don’t want you to be left behind.”
I finally opened my mouth to speak. “Are you talking about the rapture?”
“It could happen any day, sweetheart. You have to be prepared. We all do.”
My dad had passed over from closed-minded to crazy. “You really think this camp is going to make God love me more?” I breathed in. “You really think this camp is going to make me straight?”
“It better.” My dad stared at me. But he didn't see me. Not at all. “Because if it doesn’t, you’re staying at the camp for your entire senior year.”
When he let me leave, I ran upstairs to my bedroom and slammed the door so loud my framed Spice Girls poster dropped to the carpet.
I raced over to my desk. I wanted to write to Mira. Tell her what happened.
But my computer was gone.