When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom’s latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.
Why this story?
There’s been a dialogue about bullying in the national media, and it is important to talk about how to identify it and how to fight it. But I see less conversation about what to do once the bullying stops. To me, that’s the most important fight of all, and that’s also where Like Moonlight at Low Tide begins.
I got the idea for Like Moonlight at Low Tide when I visited my old childhood neighborhood and imagined what it would be like for a girl growing up there now. What would happen if a boy moved in next to her and challenged the way she saw herself?
Is it a true story?
No. This isn’t a true story, but in Like Moonlight at Low Tide I borrow from some of my real-life experiences and also the stories of many of my friends and other teenagers to tell the fictional tale of Melissa Keiser and her world.
As a junior in high school, Melissa moves back to her childhood hometown where she was once known as the “ugliest girl in school.” She has one goal to get through the unwelcome homecoming: hide. The one way she finds escape is by pool hopping in the backyard of her neighbor’s abandoned home. One night she looks up from her midnight swim to see a strange figure hovering over her. That’s when everything changes in her world.
This isn’t an “issue” book. This is the story of a girl and the boys who loved her. But my hope is that a truth comes out of Melissa’s story, and we get to experience it when go on this journey with her. We have a purpose and a strength and a love available to us in Christ that is far greater than we could ever hope to realize on our own.
Is Anna Maria Island a real place?
Yes. The setting of Like Moonlight at Low Tide is Anna Maria Island, Florida. It’s a real barrier island off the Gulf coast of Florida, just south of Tampa Bay. I struggled with whether or not to use the real name of Anna Maria or to even set the book in another town. It’s hard to write the smells and sights and tastes of a place you love because you want to protect it as much as you want to describe it. (My family, for starters, sent me dozens of edits on my manuscript focusing on my description of the island.) But this was the only place for Melissa Keiser’s story. Any other place wouldn’t have felt right.