Today I am on the Blog Tour for Breeze by Sarah Asuquo and I am here with an extract for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: Breeze Author: Sarah Asuquo Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 17th November 2020 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: Being a teenager is complicated enough. Add a superpower to the mix, and it gives “glow up” a whole new meaning.
At Aspire Academy, East London, there are countless cliques and weekly trends, but Breeze isn’t interested in any of that; she’s not like most of the girls in her school. There’s only one place at Aspire where Breeze feels like she truly belongs. The track.
Breeze is a gifted athlete and the national champion for the 100-metre sprint. However, she is astonished when she discovers that her talent is also her superpower! With her power comes popularity but also duty. She is given a secret mission (which could change the fate of her school FOREVER), but to succeed, she must put aside her desire to maintain her new status and realise the true purpose of her gift.
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Breeze’s self-labelled ‘trend-indifference’ is a trait that she has lived with, and was somewhat grateful for, since she was a child. The term refers to the recurring social situations Breeze would often find herself in that caused her to question whether her peers were… um, what’s the right word? Weirdos. Yes, weirdos. Or if she was in fact the oddball who failed to see the world in the same way that everyone else did. At times, Breeze thought that it might be a Tower Hamlets thing and that everyone in her borough was just a bit, what do you call it? Loopy. She once hypothesised that perhaps the prolonged inhalation of the oil emitted into the air by the local chippys’ deep fat fryers, combined with the aromas of the rapidly decaying meat thoughtfully hung out on display in the local markets, infused with the remnant scents of the intermittent sewer leaks in the area had a greater effect on the local residents than they had realised. A real conundrum. Well, for Breeze it was.
Ultimately, Breeze had always been different, and she was ok with that. Take preschool, for example. Whilst most children were mesmerised by Ziggy, the magic puppet, Breeze was entertained by talking to insects. This wasn’t an issue — until she decided to invite the insects to Story Time, sending every child in the book corner into a screaming, crying frenzy! Every child that is except Gerry Ginger. Gerry just ate the insects, which made Breeze cry.
Primary school was no different. Breeze had an imaginary friend named AJ. Pretty normal, right? Everyone had an imaginary friend who they shared all their secrets with, played tag with and gave half of their packed lunch to… no? Turns out that their friendship wasn’t so common after all and soon, AJ became Breeze’s only friend.
Breeze now attended Aspire Academy, a federation of five secondary schools in East London, and she was a student of the school in Poplar. Although secondary school had been a better experience for Breeze, she still didn’t feel like she belonged; she wasn’t like most of the girls in her school. The most popular girls were the ‘slayed girls’, who firmly believed that wearing makeup in public was mandatory and had the essential, daily duty of ensuring that their bestie’s “contour was poppin’.” But the thought of applying anything other than cocoa butter to her skin unsettled Breeze’s soul. Then there were the ‘academic girls’, who would adamantly search for any reason to start a debate and whose sole aim in life was to prove that they were the most intelligent beings in the room. The ‘rebels’, who went above and beyond to highlight how different they were to the rest of the students at Aspire, which Breeze thought slightly defeated the point because they were identically unique, if that makes sense. The ‘science girls’, who spent their free time precariously experimenting, with the hope to make the next, ground-breaking scientific discovery. The ‘performing arts girls’, also known as the ‘creatives’, who made a song and dance out of everything, literally. The ‘IT girls’, who could effortlessly hack into every software system within the school, a skill they often used to cause havoc (just google “Aspire Academy Host Hip-hop Festival during GCSE Examinations”). The ‘selective mutes’, who didn’t speak to anyone other than the members of their friendship group. The ‘bad girls’ who, based on the self-proclaimed name, Breeze assumed were bad in some way. And that was just the girls. The boys had even more squads! Breeze just couldn’t find a group that she could fit into and she was fine with that. Every week, there was a new song that supposedly ‘banged’ or dance craze or social media challenge, and Breeze couldn’t keep up! To be honest, she didn’t want to. She would rather spend her spare time dancing and rapping along to MC Hammer classics with her family than listening to the ramblings of the illustrious rapper, Yung Coin, also known as YC. Yes, you read that correctly. There is no ‘o’ in young. And no, his music was not acceptable.
As she sat in her maths lesson daydreaming, Breeze was blissfully unaware that her class were playing ‘whippin’, a game in which one person discreetly performs any gesture related to driving without being detected by the teacher and then passes it on someone else. Sounds fun, right? Not for Breeze. She neither enjoyed nor understood the game.
“Why is this even a thing?” she would furtively protest. “None of us can drive! … But we’re not even in cars, though. We’re in chairs — very uncomfortable chairs!” were just a few of the thoughts that rang through her mind when she watched the game.
Jayden looked over his shoulder as he pretended to reverse parallel park his car (his car being his desk, obviously) whilst everyone in the class watched in admiration. Everyone except Breeze. Breeze wasn’t watching and consequently, she missed Jayden wink at her (that’s how you pass it on… I know). After a few exaggerated winks, Breeze heard a voice in the distance cry “Track Girl… Track Girl” except, it wasn’t in the distance; it was Chanel, the most popular girl in Breeze’s year group. Breeze snapped out of her daydream, which she wasn’t happy about because she had finally persuaded MC Hammer to teach her the ‘Hammer Dance’ and she had almost mastered it.
“It’s your go,” said Chanel as Breeze looked at her in bewilderment. “Whippin’,” she continued, accompanied with what Breeze called the ‘angry mum neck roll’ because this game was clearly the most sensible and appropriate activity that students should be doing in a maths lesson.
All eyes were on Breeze. She looked to Mr Fraser to save her from the madness, but to her dismay, he wasn’t looking back. “Don’t do it to yourself, Breeze. It’s such a stupid game, don’t succumb to the pressure” she thought to herself, but her hands did not comply and before she knew it, Breeze was pressing an imaginary car horn (yep, I know) and if that wasn’t enough, for some reason, Breeze thought it would be a good idea to add sound effects to what had always been a silent game by uncomfortably sounding through a forced smile, “beep, beep.” It wasn’t.
“Not beep!” said Mr Fraser in his Jamaican-Cockney accent. “I said keep, keep your exercise books and I’ll collect them next lesson.”
The class found this hysterical, and a storm of laughter swept through the classroom as Mr Fraser ended the lesson.
“Ah, you’re so funny, Track Girl,” said Chanel, leaving the room, her flock sniggering behind her.
“No. I’m not funny,” Breeze murmured. “James Corden: funny, Kojo Anim: funny.” Breeze knew that she wasn’t funny, and that was ok.
Breeze also knew that she was a ‘Track Girl’ and being called one wasn’t a problem. However, as much as Breeze loved being on the track and it was one of the few places where she felt like she actually belonged, she knew that Chanel didn’t call her Track Girl because she admired her athletic ability, but rather because she could not remember Breeze’s name, and that was not ok.
About the Author
Sarah Asuquo has dedicated her entire career to contributing to improving the lives of young people. Her roles have included a volunteer mentor in primary schools within Lambeth and Hackney, a Teaching Assistant and for the last 6 years, an English Teacher in secondary schools within South London. She has also completed a Masters in Education at UCL in order to develop her understanding of students’ educational experiences and how they can be better supported through policy and pedagogy.
Born and raised in the vibrant East End of London and in a Nigerian household, Sarah thrives on culture and diversity. Her writing venture is influenced by her experiences with the children she has encountered, and she aims to write books that reflect the multicultural society of today in an accurate, relatable, inspiring and positive manner.