TITLE: Anabel Mist Does Not Exist
AGE CATEGORY: Middle Grade
WORD COUNT: 78,000
Anabel Mist does not know her real name, age, or hometown. She’s spent her whole life with her mom, running from The Bad Men. But when Mom gets kidnapped, Anabel needs to find herself. Fast.
Every time I’ve introduced myself to anyone, I’ve lied.
“Hi, my name is Anabel.” Lie.
“I’m twelve years old.” Lie.
“I just moved here from the West Coast.” Lie.
“My birthday is in March, my dad lives in Europe, and my mom’s name is Kelli.” Lie. Lie. Lie.
All lies. A whole lifetime of lies.
The truth is I don’t know my real name. I’m not sure exactly how old I am, and I’m probably not from the West Coast. My birthday changes with each move, I have no idea who my father is or where he lives, or if he’s even alive, and my Mom’s had so many different identities I couldn’t even begin to list them all. Mom says it is better this way. Safer.
“Better safe than sorry!” That’s what she always says. But she won’t tell me why.
When I was younger, I’d try to trick her. I’d say things like, “It’s nice being Greek, right? Our people invented democracy!” But instead of the response I’d be hoping for – something like, “We’re not Greek, we’re from Brazil!” – she would say, “Oh? Do you want to be Greek next? We could call ourselves Althea and Kristina Papadopoulos! I like it. The Bad Men will never expect us to be using those names.” By fourth grade, I’d stopped trying to figure things out.
Except sometimes at night when I can’t sleep. Then, I try to remember.