When You Open Your Eyes

by Celeste Conway

for ages 14 and up

A consuming passion turns dangerous in this lush and lyrical novel set in Buenos Aires. 

The more you love, the more you stand to lose…. 

Tessa’s head over heels for Lucien, the son of a French diplomat. Sexy, artistic, and daring, he brings out a completely new side of her. With him, Tessa feels beautiful and exotic. So when Tessa’s strict father forbids her to see Lucien, she’s determined to keep their relationship a secret. 

But as Tessa gets caught up in Lucien, he becomes increasingly volatile. What she once found alluring about him now feels alarming. Tessa must figure out how far she’ll go for Lucien before she risks losing not just him, but everything she loves.

(Simon Pulse, An Imprint of
Simon & Schuster
Children's Publishing  Division)
ISBN 978-1-4424-4229-0 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4424-3031 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-4424-3032-7 (eBook)
(0-385-90540-8). Ages 8-12.

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REVIEWS & PRAISE

"Thick with evocative descriptions, Conway’s story is gripping and memorable."

– Publishers Weekly, January 23, 2012

"The plot twists are enough to keep readers of edgy, realistic fiction turning pages. The real strengths, however, are Conway’s ability to suggest motive and emotion in nuanced dialogue and the portrayal of Tessa’s growing gift for articulating the ironies of the complicated people in her world. As in all good literature, the epiphany is inevitably bittersweet. "

– VOYA, February 2012

"Teen girls will recognize the urgency of first love and the ways in which it can take over one’s life. This is a solid addition to the darker side of the chick-lit genre."

– SLJ, March 2012

"This dark romance’s dreamy atmosphere, dangerous undercurrents, artistic characters, and overarching theme of fidelity and trust will win over fans of Courtney Summers and Siobhan Vivian."

– Booklist Online

Co“way (The Goodbye Time) pens an atmospheric novel set in Buenos Aires, where 16-year-old Tessa finds first love. Transplanted from suburban Virginia to Argentina by her controlling FBI agent father and self-absorbed mother, Tessa is immediately drawn to Lucien—the moody, artistic, and magnetic son of a French diplomat—even though her father forbids their relationship. Leaving her old life behind piece by piece, Tessa is drawn into a steamy clandestine romance with Lucien (“I want to fly away with him and never be left behind again”), as well as a life of partying with new friends who have the freedom she envies. But Lucien isolates Tessa as his behavior becomes increasingly unpredictable and violent; he pressures her into sex, leaves the country for weeks without calling, and plots a terrorist-inspired art project. Tessa’s meditative and intimate voice carries the story, as does the threat of Lucien’s instability. Thick with evocative descriptions of the subtle and not-so-subtle adaptations involved in living abroad, Conway’s story is gripping and memorable. Ages 14–up.”

– Agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Mar.), - Publishers Weekly, January 23, 2012

“A modern day Romeo and Juliet. The novel's Romeo is Lucien, the manic, self-important son of a French diplomat, and Juliet is Tessa, the querulous daughter of an American FBI agent. The story takes place far from Verona, in Argentina . . . . Lucien’s penchant for dangerous behavior is well known in diplomatic circles and ostensibly the reason why Tessa’s father has forbidden her to see him. The two must meet in secret, and so begins the downward spiral of an astonishingly dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship. Lucien is a teen Svengali, lazing about in a silk kimono, working on “guerilla” art projects and threatening to consume Tessa with his neediness. . . Whether Lucien is a victim or a predator is up to readers to interpret . . . Steamy . . . rich and sensuous.  

– Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2012

In Buenos Aires, Conway has situated the archetypal plot of the good girl attracted to the bad boy. Tessa, the daughter of an FBI agent working at the U.S. Embassy, is attracted to Lucien, the son of the French cultural attaché. Her forbidden relationship with him embroils her with a cosmopolitan group of teens into sex, drugs, art, and fashion, things about which Tessa suddenly feels unhappily inexperienced. Unlike Tessa, these teens are cut loose from the moorings of a supportive, if sometimes annoyingly protective, family. Added to this toxic recipe are Lucien’s potentially violent bouts with bipolar disorder, her father’s seamy colleague who appears to be stalking her on her father’s behalf, and eventual surprises about Tessa’s less-than-idyllic family.

The plot twists are enough to keep readers of edgy, realistic fiction turning pages. The real strengths, however, are Conway’s ability to suggest motive and emotion in nuanced dialogue and the portrayal of Tessa’s growing gift for articulating the ironies of the complicated people in her world. As in all good literature, the epiphany is inevitably bittersweet and not for those who need an unambiguously happy ending. It is not if you open your eyes, but when, and what you see is likely to be indelibly painful. The teens’ involvement with drugs and their sexual encounters make the book more appropriate for older readers.”

– VOYA, Donna L. Phillips.

“Tessa’s life takes an exciting turn when her family moves from suburban Virginia to Buenos Aires where her father is an American FBI employee affiliated with the embassy. Her new circle of friends includes a group of worldly teenagers with access to many features of an adult lifestyle. Among them is her fellow-artist and new boyfriend, Lucien, the son of a French diplomat. Then Tessa’s father, who has recently returned from a two-year stint in Colombia, forbids her to see Lucien. Determined to maintain her relationship with the one person who makes her feel beautiful, talented, and needed, Tessa sneaks around. As her estrangement from her family grows, Lucien’s alluring behavior is becoming suspect and at times dangerous. When Tessa learns the latest trigger for his manic outbursts, she has a breakdown of her own. The story reaches a frenzied climax in which Tessa attempts to save Lucien from himself only to learn that she may be lucky to save her own life. The characters’ voices ring true and the plot moves along at an engaging pace. The subplots involving Tessa’s family add to the portrayal of the protagonist’s changing personality. Teen girls will recognize the urgency of first love and the ways in which it can take over one’s life. This is a solid addition to the darker side of the chick-lit genre.–School Library Journal.”

– Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD

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