11th Hour
by Scarrow, Kristine

Annika Dietty thinks her future is with Dylan Sopick - until they run away together. As they run into challenges along the way, Dylan's behaviour becomes erratic and unsettling, and Annika knows that he needs help she can't provide. Can she get him to someone who can, or will it be too late?

Kristine Scarrow is the author of If This Is Home and Throwaway Girl. She is currently the writer-in-residence at Saskatoon's St. Paul’s Hospital as part of the Healing Arts Program. Kristine lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Annika and her boyfriend, Dylan, are deeply in love, so when Annika's family and friends become increasingly disapproving and seem destined to pull them apart, they make the decision to run away together. They have it all planned out perfectly: leave before anyone wakes up and drive far away to live in his family's secluded mountain cabin until it all blows over. But when their car breaks down on the way, Dylan's anger mounts, troubling lies surface, and tension boils. Told in dual narrative in real time from both teenagers' perspectives, this book is an honest and unflinching look at what it might be like to date someone suffering from untreated mental illness. The relationship portrayed is passionate and earnest, the decisions that the characters make set the stakes very high, and the ending is both tragic and startling. Scarrow opens her author's note with the hope that this book might help start a conversation about mental illness, and she has succeeded admirably and sympathetically at that goal. Grades 8-11. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

The clock’s large red numbers glow 6:02 a.m. I must’vemissed the alarm. It was set for five thirty; sometimesI sleep through it and it beeps for ten minutes straightbefore giving up on me and going silent again. Anyother day this would be fine, but this morning therest of my family must still be asleep, oblivious to theplans for my day.
I listen for any signs of life in the house but hearnothing. My terrier, Roxy, is nestled in bed with meas usual. I ruffle the top of her head and her ears. Sherests her head against my rib cage and my throat getsthick at the thought of leaving her behind. I can’t takeher with me though. The plan is for Dylan to pick meup after I let Roxy outside, that way she won’t barkand try to follow me out of the house. When I lether out in the morning, she quickly pees and thenstretches out on the patio, enjoying the morning sun.We usually leave her out there until she barks to comein, which is at least a half-hour later, and by then Ishould be long gone.
I went to bed at ten last night. Way earlier thannormal for a Friday night — especially since it’s familymovie night and we usually don’t get started until latein the evening, but the plans for the day had me restlessand I couldn’t seem to focus on anything but what wewere going to do.
“You feeling okay, sweetie?” my mom had asked.“You’re still coughing.” I’d had this cough and cold fora couple of weeks now. Although I wasn’t feeling great,I was thankful for the diversion. I could just say I wassick and head to my room to finish all the last-minutepreparations.
“Yeah, I’m good,” I assured her. “Just tired. I think I’mgoing to head to bed early.”
Dad entered the room with a large bowl of popcornand a stack of napkins. My twelve-year-old brotherMark was waiting for us to join him, his hand on theremote control. The opening credits of a movie were onthe TV screen and everyone was about to settle in towatch it together.
“Annika, you’re not going to watch the movie withus?” Disappointment washed over him. I rolled my eyesa bit. I was seventeen years old and Dad still wantedme to be his little girl, joining in excitedly on any familyactivity. He’d be happy if I was still coming over formovie night at forty. Mom came toward me and kissedme on the forehead.
“You feel a bit warm, honey,” she said.
“Nah, I’m good,” I assured her. “I just need some sleep.”
Mom stared at me for a moment. “Maybe we shouldcheck your temperature?”
“I’m sure it’s fine,” I said, brushing her off.
“Okay, well, get some sleep and if you need anything…”
“Yeah, I know. Thanks, Mom.”
“See you in the morning.” I’d already left the room,and her parting words cut through me. I wouldn’t see herin the morning. Little did she know that if everythingwent as planned, I’d be long gone before the rest of myfamily woke for the day. The truth was I didn’t knowwhen I’d see them again. Although I was excited forthe adventure before Dylan and me, leaving my familybehind made me ache.
The last few months had gotten really rocky betweenus though, and I knew they wouldn’t understand. Theywanted to keep me from the very thing I wanted themost — a future with Dylan.
When I got to my room, I quickly shut the doorbehind me and got down on my hands and kneesto pull the backpack out from under my bed. It wasbulging, the zipper barely able to close. How do youknow what to pack when you’re about to walk outof your life as you know it? What do you take whenyou’re making a new life with someone you love, butwhen doing so means leaving everything you’ve everknown behind?
My phone vibrated. It was Dylan, texting me.
can’t wait for tomorrow. love u babe. 9:52 p.m.
I reply:
Love you too. 9:53 p.m.
My heart surged at his words. I could feel his excitementthrough the phone. Dylan is such a passionateguy, always wearing his heart on his sleeve and comingup with grand ideas for our life together. He gives somuch to everything he wants to do that his enthusiasmis contagious.
I know we’ll have a good life together — that heloves me more than anything.
I pressed my hand to my forehead — I supposed Idid feel a bit warm. Maybe trying to get a good night’ssleep would be the best thing for me, so I could wakefeeling energetic and ready for the day. I shoved mybackpack back under my bed and did a last-minuteswoop of my room for anything I might want to bring.I shivered as I studied my room and drank in all ofits contents. I rubbed my arms, my heart heavy. Thisnine-by-ten-foot room that had been my haven for allof my seventeen years, with its pale yellow walls andflowery bedspread. The lace curtain panels on eitherside of my window, which I had requested from mygrandmother’s house after she passed. Bits of scotchtape remained on my walls from when I had postershung up. I still had posters of Adam Levine (my celebritycrush) and Bruno Mars (my favourite singer) butI’d long removed the others, thinking I was gettingtoo old to have posters tacked on my walls, coveringthem like wallpaper. My bulletin board had ticketstubs from the concerts I’d been to, a photo of meholding car keys in the air (the day I got my licence),and the honour roll certificates I’d received for gradesnine, ten, and eleven. The shelves above my desk heldmy soccer trophies going back to when I was little, andmy two favourite stuffies — LuLu, a honey-colouredbear with only one eye and half of the stuffing missingthat I’d had since I was two, and a plush neon-pinksmiley face with dangly arms and legs that Dylan hadwon for me at the fair.
I’d miss this room. Maybe we’d get settled somewhereand Mom and Dad would warm to the idea ofDylan again, see that we really loved each other and thatwe’d be staying together for good. Then we could visitand I’d get to see my other things again.
I settled into my bed, cuddled into my comforter,and wiped a tear from my cheek. Although I couldn’twait to start a life with Dylan, I couldn’t help but feelsad at what I was leaving behind. If only my parents hada different opinion of Dylan. If only they supported usbeing together, then we wouldn’t have felt like we hadto run away.
My phone vibrates at 6:05 a.m. Another text fromDylan. This time it’s a photo of the two of us thatDylan took on the Ferris wheel at the fair. My longdark hair is blowing softly in the breeze, the lights ofthe amusement park and the city glowing behind us.Dylan has his other arm around me, pulling me close,and he’s kissing my cheek. I’m smiling from ear to ear,feeling every ounce of his love in that moment. Thisis why I’m leaving. Because Dylan makes me feel likeno one else. Because Dylan loves me. Because Dylanis my future.

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