Year of the Guilty Soul


Year of the Guilty Soul - A.M. Leibowitz
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99
Pages: 74
Audiobook: $ 6.95

The year is 1991, and Antonia “Toni” Moskowitz is caught in the middle, always having to pick a side. Whether it’s between her family’s two religions or in her relationships, she has choices to make. Does her heart belong to the outgoing boy with the lime-green nails or the girl in the black velvet skirt? Where does she fit in when both gender and gender roles feel confining?

But learning who she is and who she wants to be with has a price. Every decision has consequences, especially when some kinds of love and expression are still taboo. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between being good and being right. Four seasons. Four kisses. One year to figure out what her heart wants.

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Currently, I’m turning this way and that, examining every angle in the full-length mirror on the back of the door. We hardly bought anything for me, partly because I haven’t grown at all and partly because I hate shopping. Nothing ever looks right. About eighty percent of the time, I want to stop looking like…well, me, for one thing. My current fashion style can best be described as “depressed potato.”

Cari peers at me over the top of this months’ issue of Seventeen. Probably another thing on the Thou Shalt Not list, as Hannah calls it. It’s not a Christian magazine, and there’s always some stuff in there Pastor has words about.

She sets the magazine down and crosses her legs, tilting her head to the side. I flush under her scrutiny. At last she says, “Why do you want to look like them?”


I know who she means—the Stepford Teens. Those girls who look like they stepped out of a modesty fashion show. Or off the cover of Seventeen. And I do want to look like them, but not for the reasons Cari thinks.

“What do you care?” I mutter. It’s easier than trying to explain the way my hair, my face, my body all feel like baggage.

She stands and comes up behind me, peering over my shoulder at my reflection. “You don’t have to imitate all that boring, bland crap.”

“I do if I want—” I take a deep breath and turn around. “If I want to blend in.”

“And what if you don’t want to?” She puts her hands on her hips. Cari’s not exactly the blending-in type herself.

It might sound strange, but I’ve never thought about it. From the time I was nine, I’ve always tried to mold myself to what I thought would make other people happy. And then for almost two years, I’ve tried to be inconspicuous, to keep my head down and prevent anyone from noticing me.

“I don’t know,” I answer truthfully.

Cari pushes gently until I rotate again. She puts her hands on my shoulders and says, “What would you change right now if you could?”

“My hair,” I say without hesitation. “I hate it. It’s so thick and wavy I can barely comb it, and it looks awful whether I put it up with a scrunchy or hold the front back with a barrette.”

“Hm. I could cut it for you, if you want.”

My mouth drops open. “Right now?”


I peek out of my room to see if anyone is around. The house is silent, which means Mom and Matteo have finished their discussion. Or rather, Mom’s lecture. I motion to Cari, and we sneak into the bathroom to do the deed. There’s a pair of scissors in the drawer under the sink and towels on the shelf over the toilet.

It doesn’t take long before what feels like an enormous weight has been lifted off my head. Cari’s given me this really cute cut. It’s messy and boyish and I love it. I can’t stop staring at my reflection and wondering why I never thought to do this before.


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