Meet Deanna Proach, Author of To Be Maria

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Wise Bear Books

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Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress but she's faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn't have any money to support her. At school, she's bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping-stone to stardom if she's accepted by her peers.

All of this changes when Maria Hernandez--an immigrant from Spain--comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She's assertive, confident and she dresses suggestively, characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent.

When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy's rude comment sends her into a rage.

Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks and aggressive confidence that they can't resist his friendship. They don't know that Alex's gang is at war with a rival gang--one that's run by Anya's older brother, Adrik--until one incident puts their lives in danger's path. To make matters worse, Alex won't let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that's a matter of life or death.

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