Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.
To every kid out there who just needed someone to listen and believe in
them. Hold on to what makes you, YOU!
Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.
His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he's going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.
A train whistle echoed into the frigid night. By three o’clock a.m., most of the passengers had been lulled to sleep by the swaying of the steel wheels slicing through the snow. But not everyone was enticed to sleep as easily.
Fifteen-‐‑year old Payton MacGregor stared out his window. He pressed his forehead against the frost-‐‑fogged glass then attempted to stretch out his legs—man, it was like trying to get a giraffe comfortable in a station wagon. Designers of passenger train
cars must have gone to the same engineering school as airplane
designers: all passengers should be able to fold themselves into the
two-‐‑foot space between rows of seats.
Payton twisted around until he finally settled into sitting with his legs bent up, his shins leaning against the seat in front of him and keeping his head against the window.
Excellent, he thought. By the time the train stops in Edmonton,I’ll be numb from butt to ears.
He squinted out into the darkness then closed his eyes, his head vibrating against the window. John Lennon crooned through his MP3-‐‑player headphones about someone named Julia. Who was the song about again? His mother? A girlfriend?
"When I cannot sing my heart…I can only speak my mind, Julia…"
Payton laughed. Speaking his mind was what got him on the train in the first place. All his life he tried singing his heart but nobody listened. When he finally spoke his mind, he got into
trouble. Well…not trouble exactly.
His grandparents had decided last week it was time for him to ship off and meet his father—a man who’d run off to join the army and left Payton with his alcoholic, bipolar mother. Not a
phone call or a letter or a “How the heck are ya, son?” Just…gone.
“Yeah…that’s a guy I’d love to get to know,” Payton had said, picking at a hangnail on his thumb.