In The House of Tomorrow author Peter Bognanni’s highly-anticipated YA novel, Things I’m Seeing Without You, Tess Fowler, 17, has to deal with the gutting death of the love of her life after he dies by suicide. Jonah and Tess bonded and fell for each other over an endless series of texts and emails, where they’d share the “things I’m seeing without you” as a way of being together while in their long-distance romance. After Jonah’s death, Tess is left sifting through their messages to figure out why she didn’t see this coming — until she receives a new message that turns her world upside-down.
Check out the absolutely gorgeous cover, inspired by a video of starlings in flight — which Jonah uses to show Tess how he feels about her. And beneath that, read an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 10 to get a glimpse into Tess’s world. Things I’m Seeing Without You hits shelves Sept. 26.
Excerpt from Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni
Somehow, the horse funeral was a success.
By the light of a pink moon, they swung Sergeant Bronson’s frozen body through the sky with a crane to get him from the freezer to his enormous coffin. The next day they thawed and embalmed him. Then they groomed him and made him look a show horse. Midafternoon, a jazz marching band walked a procession route lined with yellow and white carnations. And when the time came, the trumpet call sounded, and the little horses were untethered one by one.
We all just stood there and watched them run as fast as they could over the pasture, disappearing until they were specks against the horizon. By the end of it all, Leroy had tears in his eyes. I saw him wipe them away on the sleeve of his butterscotch-colored jacket before plucking a nearby carnation for his lapel.
On the flight back, Dad seemed pleased.
I watched him as he stared out the window at the wispy clouds just beyond the wing, a calm smile on his face. No animals had blown up this time, and he had a big check in his pocket. How big, I couldn’t tell you, but he kept touching it every once in a while to make sure it was still there.
“I probably didn’t take the time to tell you, Tess,” he said, “but thanks for your hard work the last couple days. That was, hands down, the best funeral I’ve done. And you’re a big part of it.”
“You’re welcome,” I said softly.
And, for the moment, I couldn’t think of anything terrible to add. It’s not like I felt like dancing or anything, but I was feeling slightly less awful. The funeral planning had been a helpful distraction. Also: Skip had given me his number before I left.
We weren’t likely to see each other again, but it felt good to know I wasn’t too far gone to attract a goofy-but-still-kind-of-hot cowboy. I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty, though, for not turning him down flat. If things had happened differently, I would be with Jonah right now in a tiny cabin somewhere, making sustainable yurts with gifted children in the mountains.
“Leroy was impressed I let you have a say in my business.”
My dad was talking again.
“He said his father never trusted him with the horses. Not until he was almost thirty. Can you believe that?”
“M-hmm,” I said.
I opened my Facebook account and started to scroll through Jonah’s pictures. The one, for instance, where he’s on a camping trip, standing in a stream, his hair mussed from waking, an unlit cigarette hanging from his bottom lip. And the one where his arms are covered in scrabble tiles and he’s caught mid-laugh on a dorm floor.
“Leroy doesn’t have any kids. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he has to pass on his legacy.”
I looked at the pictures people started posting after his death. A high school photo where he has long hair and he’s crammed in a Porta Potti with four of his friends (complete with the caption “I’ll always remember you like this, J. Much Love”). The first communion photo his aunt posted where he’s wearing a white suit and looks a little like an R & B singer from the nineties. Her comment below said: “God got another angel today,” as if he had actually died at the age of seven and not eighteen.
At first, it didn’t register when I saw the message.
“He’s worried when he dies, the horses will all go downhill. But that’s what he liked about your idea. Maybe they’ll be so strong they keep running. Even when he’s gone, they’ll keep running.”
Not too many people contacted me on Facebook anymore. A couple of high school friends from New York, but mostly they texted if I heard from them at all. So it wasn’t until I clicked on the icon and saw where the message was coming from, that my breath slowly left me.
There was Jonah’s little face at the top right of the new message, which said:
I have to talk to you, Tess.
“Tess,” said my dad. “Did you hear me?”
The sky outside the plane was cloudless now. A blue so bright it hurt my eyes. My dad was touching my shoulder, but I could barely feel it.
“Tess,” he said.
I looked at him and saw the concern on his face.
“Hey,” he said, “where did you go?”