Samantha Cooke began writing seriously at a very young age, beginning with poetry, and writing everything in between. Her professional career started with playwriting, when she wrote the book to the musical Jaws: The Movie: The Musical. Jaws: The Movie: The Musical was featured at The Orlando International Fringe Festival, where it was one of the highest grossing productions in its category. It then went on to play at The Derek Gores Gallery, and is currently in contract negotiation for its west coast debut. 95 Shoreview Drive will be Samantha's first full length novel.
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It’s been 5 months since Morgan has heard from Bailey. Then the text messages start coming. There is one summer to say goodbye-but will that be enough?Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/rqjhM 881 views
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95 Shoreview Drive is centered around Morgan, Allie, and Bailey, who have been friends since childhood, growing up each summer in an extravagant beach house in one of the tourist capitals of Florida. After a tumultuous year the summer before, all Morgan wants is a summer in the beach house with her two best friends, but too much has changed in the year since they were last there. Bailey disappeared without a word to anyone, Allie looks the other way when Morgan tries to talk to her in the halls at school, and her longtime boyfriend Ryder stops appearing on her recent calls log. The only thing that is the same is that at the beginning of the summer, Morgan is in a car driving west with her family to their beach house. The house, once full of noise and love, feels different this year as Morgan arrives at the beginning of the summer without her friends. What she had once thought was just a small fight is now proving to be something bigger- it’s been five months, and Bailey is still missing, and Allie is still silent. To Morgan, it feels like everyone else has already forgotten about Bailey, and she will do whatever it takes to heal the broken friendships. Then the text messages from Bailey start coming, ending with last summer’s final puzzle piece for Morgan.
On the surface, 95 Shoreview Drive is a story about grief, but at the core, it speaks volumes on what it means to have a best friend, and how young women are defined by the friendships created early on. Told from Morgan’s point of view as she tries to understand what happened to Bailey, 95 Shoreview Drive is an array of summer romances, age-old inside jokes, and an obsession with jumping off of bridges into troubled waters (literally), all the while exploring what happens when a young woman is standing on the edge of adulthood with the most valuable relationship she has ever known is gone. Morgan has one final summer with Bailey before saying goodbye, but will that be enough?
The story is told from Morgan's point of view in the present tense, taking place in the summer months of 2016 in Englewood Beach, Florida.
The story opens with Morgan driving with her mother, uncle, and grandmother to the family beach house. Her family is talking about how much the years have changed, and all fall silent when Morgan reminds them that she definitely knows that. It is revealed that every year before, Morgan was accompanied by her two best friends Allie and Bailey, who are no where to be found now. Morgan sends the first of many unanswered text messages to Bailey.
Finally arriving at The Highview, located at 95 Shoreview Drive, Morgan stands alone in the living room of the house, staring out the large windows that look out to the beach. While she's there, she hears her cousin Noah and his best friend Ethan coming up the stairs. They tell Morgan that the three of them will be rooming together that summer, which causes Morgan to really realize how much her summer has changed.
Bailey left Florida, we find out quickly, but no one knows exactly why- at least, that's what Morgan maintains. Still reluctant about the summer, Morgan agrees to go grocery shopping with her Uncle Daniel, Noah, and Ethan, where Morgan gets the first text message from Bailey, after not having heard from her in months.
This is the chapter where things start getting revealed about Allie, Morgan, and Bailey's friendship. The reader definitely gets a sense of their personalities, as Allie shows up to The Highview to surprise Morgan, though Morgan feels slightly bombarded by this.
As a writer, this was one of my favorite chapters to write. I really drew from personal experiences on this one, as Morgan and Allie ditch their bedroom and go spend the night on the roof of the house. They're shortly joined by Ethan and Noah, and the four friends reconnect about life over the last five months since Bailey has been gone. This is the first time that Morgan admits to her friends that she and Bailey are talking again, a piece of information that really unsettles the group.
The beautiful beach of Englewood, Florida makes its debut in this chapter...along with some past romantic drama about Bailey and Ethan. With the revelation of their history, the reader can start guessing what happened...and why Bailey left.
After falling into a rhythm together again, Allie and Morgan are wildly disrupted after Morgan receives a text message from Bailey about how she should forgive the friends for the summer before. Morgan, who has not yet revealed to the reader exactly what happens, shares her guilt with Bailey via text, only to be interrupted by Allie who tries to convince Morgan to give Bailey up.
This chapter was another favorite to write, just because it allowed me to go back to when I was in high school spending summers at the beach. The friends hop on their bikes and take a bike ride, making an epic detour to jump off a bridge into a nearby river, which causes Morgan to do some serious reflecting. She reflects about her friendships, and admits to her friends that she's scared she doesn't know who she is without Bailey.
Growing up, my grandmother was a huge influence in my life. That's the same for Morgan. This chapter gives us a a deeper glance into Morgan's family, as she wakes up early one morning and walks the length of the beach with her Nanny. Her Nanny is hesitant to bring up Bailey, but mentions to Morgan that she is thankful that Morgan is there. After the walk, Morgan goes to a bakery with her uncle to pick out a birthday cake, and sees a newspaper headline about the town recovering from a hurricane that hit a few months prior.
There is something really special about the bond Morgan has with her cousin, Noah. They're the same age, only a few months apart, and have been in the same friend group all throughout high school. This also means that Noah can tell exactly when something is bothering Morgan.
I love a good love story, and while I maintain that this novel is about friendship, I had to include a subplot of a failed relationship. Knock, knock, knock on the door...and who shows up? None other than Noah and Ethan's best friend, Ryder, who just so happens to be Morgan's ex-boyfriend. Ryder, who I hope will turn into the next Young Adult Fiction boy that all readers fall in love with, is warm towards Morgan, and Morgan admits to Allie that things ended rough on her end, and that she broke up with him.
After Ryder's arrival, everyone heads down to the beach. Ethan, Ryder, and Noah are goofing around in the water while Morgan and Allie sit in their beach chairs, and the girls flashback to a memory from the summer before: the first puzzle piece in the Mystery of Bailey.
Ask any Florida native, and they'll agree that the only meal suitable for a summer night is a barbecue. Sitting on picnic benches outside of The Highview, Ryder finds a way to gently let Morgan know that the plans they had made to go off to college together were obviously over now, something that Morgan knew in the back of her mind but never admitted out loud. They are interrupted by Noah, who suggests they should all sleep on the roof that night.
On the roof, Morgan notes to herself that she hadn't heard from Bailey in a while, and sends her a quick text message just saying hi. The message goes unanswered, and for Morgan, this seems to be the tipping point. She has spent the last six months with Bailey being gone picking up the pieces from a reckless summer before, and now Morgan is willing to do whatever it takes to get back some ounce of normalcy in her life. Starting with Ryder.
Independence Day is in full swing at the beach, and the friends and the family all go down to the water for a fireworks show and boat race- only to be thrown through a loop when something triggers a memory with Morgan. Not really understanding what's going on, Morgan runs back to the beach house, to be followed of course by her friends. No one says anything as they settle in to watch a movie, and Morgan checks a notification on her phone that all of the text messages she had been trying to send to Bailey were marked undeliverable.
The deal Uncle Daniel made with the friends was that they could spend the entire summer there, but had to help him with some renovations he wanted to make. While helping in the yard, Ryder finds Morgan alone in the toolshed and asks her the one question readers have been waiting for: do you still love me?
A rainy afternoon in Florida calls for card games, cookies, and sneaking out of the house. A plan that, until Morgan hears Allie admitting that she blocked Bailey's number on Morgan's phone, sounds great.
Morgan is not the type of character to run, but after hearing this revelation from Allie, that's exactly what she does. She escapes to the beach, and finds herself sitting alone until Noah comes up. Noah provides Morgan a second puzzle piece to the Mystery of Bailey, as he hands her her cellphone and tells her to take a closer look.
This chapter is where everything starts to make sense for Morgan, and this chapter-chapter 20 are told in a flashback to the summer before.
It's the end of summer, and Bailey reveals to Morgan and Allie that she and Ethan had been secretly seeing each other all summer. To Bailey, she is hopeful that they will make it official, but then one day the girls see Ethan out with another girl from their class- instantly shattering Bailey's heart and creating a clear divide in their friend group.
After seeing Bailey in such low spirits, Morgan suggests the three girls sneak into The Highview, since it is off-season and no one is there. They skip school one Friday and create a plan that allows them to be gone for the entire weekend. And then, a hurricane hits.
This chapter was the hardest one to write for me. I really wanted the friend's story to come to a gentle closing, and this is when everything about the summer before really hits the fan, and the reader figures out exactly what happened. That's all I'll say ;)
Back to present day, Morgan rushes back to the beach house after remembering everything from the summer before. She is met with Allie, Ethan, and Ryder, who all explain that they wanted to try to recreate the summer so that it would help Morgan's memory. Morgan sends one final text message to Bailey.
The final chapter is all about closure. Closure with friendships, relationships, and even closure with The Highview.
The ideal audience for 95 Shoreview Drive falls between ages 13-18 for Young Adult readers, but also has themes that would interest in the new adult genre, ages 18-21. In 2012, nearly 10,000 young adult novels came out, with a steady growth in the years since then. Young adult readers are reading and buying more, as readers look for characters they can grow up with.
You can find me active on Twitter and Instagram @samanthaecooke.
Recently, I launched a social media campaign to excite readers about 95 Shoreview Drive. I challenged my social media followers to share their favorite picture with their best friends and use the hashtag #bestfriendsbestdays #95ShoreviewDrive.
You can also see me featured on the popular Instagram account @bibliotrix.lestrange
1. Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2014
-The story of Emily and the summer she spends away from her best friend, Sloane, redefining who she is. While both my book and this book address similar themes of friendship, the outcome of both books is very different.
2. The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group, 2004
-Much like Dessen's writing, my writing is centered around the beach and the summer. The Truth About Forever is one of the first YA novels that I read that made a difference in who I am as a reader and writer.
3. All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Ember, 2016
-All the Bright Places and 95 Shoreview Drive both, at the center of the climax, deal with grief. Alternately, 95 Shoreview Drive deals with grief in a different manner. The grief felt by the characters in both stories is grief caused by different things.
4. Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2013
-Second Chance Summer is exactly what the title suggests it is about. It is similar to 95 Shoreview Drive because of the idea that you can recreate yourself in the summer. My book focuses on recreating yourself after a loss, which is something that is not addressed in Second Chance Summer.
5. Paper Towns
Author: John Greene
Publisher: Penguin, 2015
-Paper Towns is similar to my book because it addresses how a character is affected by location and place. Besides that underlying theme, the stories do not share many similarities.
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Three hours and twenty-four minutes, with a seventeen-minute break at a McDonald’s for lunch. I have to keep reminding myself that the drive never feels as long as it looks on the map, as I buckle my seatbelt. I flinch as the seatbelt hook touched my leg, and basically scolds my skin off. What a classic Florida move. I push my hair behind my ears. It takes everything in me not to scream at Uncle Daniel to turn the car on to get the air conditioner circulating, so instead, I lean forward and turn the key in the ignition. I sit back in the backseat, while my mom and Nanny are basically being dragged out of the house by Uncle Daniel, all the while he murmurs curse words about how we’ll all die before we even make it to the beach.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” my mom mumbled, climbing into the backseat next to me, and giving me a playful smile as she shrugs and buckles her seatbelt. I pull at the frayed pieces of string on my distressed shorts, wondering how long it would take Nanny to make a comment about “young people’s clothes”, which would prompt Uncle Daniel to make a comment about how if I really wanted all of my clothes to have holes in them, he could help me out.
“Are the knuckleheads behind us?” Uncle Daniel asked a few minutes later, after we left Nanny’s neighborhood and merged onto the highway. We were headed west for an entire summer spent at Uncle Daniel’s beach house. I turn around in my seat and see my cousin Noah and his best friend Ethan driving behind us in Ethan’s car.
“I can’t believe soon enough you guys will be too cool for this trip,” mom said, letting an ounce of nostalgia sneak out.
“Too cool for a free vacation at a beach house? I don’t think so,” Uncle Daniel said through his booming laughter.
“So much has changed since the first year we started going,” Nanny said quietly from the front seat, putting her book down in her lap and lightly saying she was starting to feel a bit motion sick.
“We’ve been on the road for ten minutes, mom!” Uncle Daniel said, leaning over to open the glove compartment, and pointing at a stash of anti-nausea medicine he kept on hand. She smiled.
“This summer will be different,” Uncle Daniel started. Way to state the obvious.
Of course it would be different. All of the years before, Bailey, Allie, and I would drive over with mom, while Ethan, Ryder, and Noah would drive over with Uncle Daniel. As of two years ago, though, when Ethan got his driver’s license, then I would be sitting in the backseat of his car squeezed next to Bailey and Allie, with Ryder playing DJ, and Noah complaining to all of us from the backseat of Uncle Daniel’s SUV via group text about how it wasn’t fair that he didn’t get to ride with us.
Now, instead of listening to Ethan and Ryder rap along to what they referred to as “old school rap”, I was listening to Uncle Daniel and Nanny sing along to “Africa” by Toto. Instead of taking pictures with Bailey and Allie in the backseat, I looked over and saw my mom asleep, mouth open and everything. So yeah, it was definitely going to be different.
I raised my eyebrows and nodded, realizing that Uncle Daniel had asked me a question that I had completely missed. I was planning on agreeing with what anyone said this trip, in hopes that it would lead them all to leave the questions about Bailey alone.
I had met Bailey in second grade, my first day at my new elementary school. Though I had grown up in Cocoa Beach, when mom and I moved the summer before second grade and I was forced to move to a new school due to new district zoning laws. I remember walking into the classroom, still too young to be too scared about not knowing anyone, and finding my name at a desk next to Bailey’s. I stood next to the desk and stared down at the girl sitting next to me. She had one single braid, a really round face, and was wearing a blue shirt with a British flag on it and a plaid skirt. She turned and looked at me, and smiled at my t-shirt.
“I’ve never been to Disney World,” she said, an obvious comment on the Minnie Mouse I had on my white short-sleeved shirt.
“Never??? But we live like five minutes away from there!” I had said, which we would laugh about later when we realized how little of a concept seven year olds had with time.
“Not enough rollercoasters. I’m Bailey.”
And that was the start of it all.
Me, 10:05 AM: I can’t believe you aren’t here.
Me, 10:07 AM: Update: mom keeps singing that Maroon 5 song you hate so much. Be glad you aren’t here.
Me, 10:09 AM: You know the one.
Me, 10:11 AM: I wish you were here Bailey.
The Highview looks the same. The same beautifully landscaped yard, lined with seashells plucked straight from the beach across the street. The same gravel walkway, leading to two large staircases. At the end of each staircase was a wooden deck that was decorated with lounge chairs and small, orange round tables. The house was a two-story house, separated into two different apartments. The blue doors into each separate apartment living space had the lockboxes on, with the same code to open it, (B-E-A-C-H). Just looking up at the house, I could close my eyes and know that inside the tropical decorations and wicker furniture would be laid out, and my favorite part of the house, an orange spiral staircase that led to a deck that was on the top story of the house, would be waiting us that night at sunset. I look up at the staircase, and remember the first time the entire family had squeezed onto the deck that first night to watch the sunset over the ocean. Of course, in my memory, I’m cautiously asking if there was a weight limit, and Bailey pushed me onto the deck and told me to live a little. We were eleven.
I walk to the back of Uncle Daniel’s SUV, and pull some of the bags out until I get to my suitcase. I left the others on the ground, the back of the trunk open to signal to everyone else that they could come get their bags, and even though it was only Hour Four of vacation, I had to remind myself that not everyone wanted to get settled right away and hang up their wardrobe. This summer was different than the ones before. We’re here for the entire summer, they should take a little more urgency in unpacking. I walked along the stone walkway, lined with a wooden picket fence and shrubbery, thankful that the décor of The Highview never left any room for imagination as to where we were. Everything about it screamed “BEACH HOUSE!!!!”, especially the sign that hung on the small gate to enter the common space that read “Beach House”, decorated with small flip flops and seashells. The climb up the single flight of stairs, while pulling my suitcase, was exhausting to my legs after having been squished in the back seat the entire drive over. I fumbled with the lock box, thankful that I still remembered the code, and it popped open, dropping out two sets of single keys. I unlock the door and stand in the still air of the room, taking it all in. The last time I had been here, one year ago, almost to the day, Bailey had been standing behind me urging me to hurry up, because she really had to pee, and Allie had been laughing as I deliberately took my time. Now, I was standing alone, waiting for the sight of the blue cushioned couch, and the wicker tables covered in a sheet of glass so food and liquid wouldn’t damage them. We learned a few years ago that the glass was easily broken, especially during a heated game of Monopoly, when Noah slammed the table and shattered the glass. The sliding glass door that led you to a balcony, furnished in Adirondack chairs that faced towards to the water, had its curtains closed. I walk over and tug at the cord, opening them up and letting the natural light in. Facing out, you can’t see the ocean, just the houses in front of it that had a true ocean view, but if you looked close enough, you could catch a glimpse of sand through the side yards of the other houses. Uncle Daniel told us that it was marketed as a ‘panoramic view’. You didn’t have to listen closely to hear the sound of a crashing wave, though. That was the natural sound soother that brought me back to the truth of The Highview: you could escape reality here.
“It’s time,” I said to myself, hearing my voice echo in the emptiness of the apartment, and automatically felt a pang of sadness hit as I turned the corner into the hallways and into one of the bedrooms. The Highview was two stories, and built so that each story served as its own unit. We always took the unit on the very top, and every year, Bailey, Allie, and I squeezed into this room, with the bunk bed and twin sized bed, and every year we fought over who would get to sleep on the twin sized bed. I always pulled the “What if the bunk bed falls and crashes down and kills me in my sleep??” card, fueled by my anxiety. Allie always said, “Oh, so you’d rather it kill me?”, and I always said, “Yes.” So many summer nights had been spent in this room, listening to Noah and Ethan across the hall playing video games or trying to sneak some of Uncle Daniel’s beer. Mom, Nanny, and Uncle Daniel all shared the unit below us, occasionally reminding us with a broomstick smack to their ceiling that they were there and that we were being too loud. The rooms never mattered though. Yes, the house is gorgeous- but The Highview was never about the lack of walk-in closets or the flat mattresses that sat on top of the slats in the bunk beds. The Highview was about the fact that in two minutes we could be at the beach. The Highview was about the fact that the world outside kept going, but we were trapped in our own world that smelled like coconut sunscreen and felt like cold water splashing on a sunburnt face.
In the previous summers, we had only ever spent just ten days here, but because Uncle Daniel was starting to feel a little nostalgic about his only son, Noah, getting older and potentially moving away for college, he let us all know that he wouldn’t rent out the house at all that summer. In exchange for the entire summer, he would be making some renovations on the house- damages from a bad storm the year before, bringing us all back to the memory of Florida in 2004 when three hurricanes in a row tore through the East Coast, the eye of the storm always landing on our hometown- and we would all be helping.
Uncle Daniel bought The Highview as an investment four years ago, after moving down to Florida from Maine with Noah after he got a divorce. His wife had wanted a divorce, saying that while she loved Daniel and Noah, she felt left out by their love of fishing, boating, and outdoor adventures. She told Noah to choose who he wanted to live with, and to my excitement, Uncle Daniel called my mom and asked if they could crash with us for a few weeks until he found them an apartment. They stayed with us for exactly two weeks until they moved into a two-bedroom apartment on the beach. Uncle Daniel bought The Highview, which was three hours west from where we all lived, from an old friend six months later, and began renting it out to vacationers.
We’d spent at least one week every summer for the last four years there, our friends always being invited, and our small family grew by four more kids and lost the extra Tupperware full of leftovers. When Daniel told us the plans for this summer, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated by it all. Noah would bring Ethan, sure, but here I stood in the middle of the living room with just my suitcase. I was painfully aware of how alone I was, but a summer painting shutters sounded better than my alternative plans: desperately wait for Bailey to come home.
I walked out of the room, realizing I had left my backpack in the car, and jogged down the stairs to grab it. I stood in the driveway, looking up at the top deck of the house. It was funny how it seemed so close from the ground, but once you went up the spiral staircase and sat on one of those orange Adirondack chairs, you felt like you were untouchable. I had shared these thoughts with Bailey and Allie one year, until Bailey pointed out that Icarus once thought he was untouchable, and look what happened to him.
With a second glance, I could see the slight traces of damages from the storm earlier in the year. One shutter was worn down by the weather, the paint having faded. A shingle here or there had taken a nose dive. But besides that, the big damages had already been taken care of at the beginning of spring- drainage pipes that had fallen off the house, major yard work, and a complete remodel of the backyard barbecue pit. After the storm, Uncle Daniel came over and did the big things, and said we’d take care of the rest in the summer. At this point, he had already decided not to rent it out for the summer. I vividly remember the storm, because it was months before hurricane season was supposed to start, yet it rained non-stop for four days, causing some of the same damages as a hurricane would.
I walked slowly back into the room that I had claimed years ago. The same bunk bed pushed against the wall. The small twin bed jetting out from the opposite wall. A flat screen television sitting on top of a dresser. A bedside table with a lamp that never had a working lightbulb in it. The two small windows, that, if opened, you could hear and smell the ocean. It was like a bedroom away from home to me, and even though it didn’t have the personal touches of a navy-blue throw pillow or a cork board calendar framed with pictures, it brought the same comfort and familiarity as my bedroom at home did.
I turned around to see Noah and Ethan standing in the doorway with their duffle bags swung over their shoulders.
“Dad is putting us all in one room because he said Nanny snores too loud and your mom keeps complaining about having to share a room with her, so your mom is going to be across the hall from us,” Noah said, swinging his duffle bag onto the twin bed.
“Plus, there’s room now since…”
He let his sentence end.
“Since I have no friends?” I said.
“Oh, come on, we’re your friends,” Ethan said, taking off his baseball cap and throwing it to the top bunk.
“Not the same,” I said.
“Want to paint my nails and talk about how your hair is so soft from the ocean water?” Ethan said, laughing at his own joke.
I sighed heavily, and just stared at Noah, hoping that he’d make Ethan stop.
“We’ll have fun, Morg, don’t worry,” he said.
Five years ago, when Noah and Uncle Daniel moved to Florida, Bailey had been Noah’s first friend, which had always made me hope that Noah would be on my side in hoping that Bailey would come back. Instead, he just fell deeper in with Ethan, and barely muttered Bailey’s name. The way he stared at the vacant bunk bed only proved my personal theory that Noah just didn’t know how to handle it. I picked up my phone to distract me, and opened my text message thread with Bailey.
Me, 1:07 PM: UGH Noah and Ethan are sharing the room with me.
Me, 1:09 PM: If you would have just come, this wouldn’t have been a problem.
“Morgan? Did you hear me?” Noah asked, and I looked up from my phone.
“Sure. It will be fun. You know I get this bed, though,” I said, dropping my bag onto the twin sized bed, and waiting for him to move his bag to the bottom bunk.
“Is that Allie?” Noah asked, nodding his head towards my phone as I slipped it into my back pocket.
“No,” I say.
“Have you heard from Allie?” Noah asked, sitting on the bottom bunk as Ethan unzips his suitcase and pulls out neatly folded shirts.
“Did your mom pack your bag again?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“Ha. Ha. Ha,” Ethan said, before giving me a nod and a shrug.
“To answer your question, no I haven’t heard from Allie. And I haven’t heard from Bailey either,” I said.
“Oh,” Ethan said.
“They got in a stupid fight like six months ago, and then Bailey moved and Allie basically dropped all forms of communication,” I said.
“I miss you, Morgan. I feel like I haven’t seen you since last summer,” Noah said quickly. I shrug.
“It’s been an interesting few months,” Ethan added, and they both stare at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing, you just break up with Ryder out of nowhere, basically drop out of school…There was a lot going on,” Noah said.
“Yeah, well,” I said.
I didn’t want to admit that I’d been texting Bailey every day in since I last saw her in February. I didn’t want to tell them that my best friend left without a trace- out of anger, or embarrassment.
“I’m sure you’ll hear from them,” Noah offered up, like he was reading my mind.
I shrugged, “Maybe.”
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