Title: KNOCKED OFF BALANCE
Audience age: YA
Word count: 50,000
Ever since a school shooting, security has been tight at Patrick Henry High School. When sixteen-year-old Sara Quinn gets into trouble for her dress-code-breaking T-shirt, transfer student Jake Bartell, a gangly 16-year-old with mad juggling skills, comes to her rescue, only to be punished for breaking the rules. Jake is a free spirit who has just transferred into the school, but, Sara, having lost her brother to a school shooting, is obsessed with safety. Jake is fine with sensible rules, but believes fear has driven the high school to insane levels, making school life intolerable. He has suffered his own loss (his father) and thinks the town should “just get over it.”
He finds that his circus arts –juggling, parkour and tumbling — are a good way to connect. Even Sara appreciates something fresh and new. She pushes him to put together a troupe to perform at the annual school show, Illusion.
Despite the obstacles thrown up by Dean of Boys Frank Brady and the taunts of Bobo, a leader of the school’s risk takers — who hates Illusion but loves circus arts — Sara and Jake pull together enough people to perform. Holding them together is another matter.
And number 3: