If Only... by Dahlia Karlin

If Only... was written with the hope of helping young adults with learning disabilities build their self-esteem. These young adults deserve to get the education that is rightfully theirs; one that builds on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. If they don’t have an excellent report card, it is necessary to find that excellence somewhere else. If Only… shows how frustration and feelings of inadequacy overpower the protagonist’s life, destroying her self-esteem making it inevitable that behavioral issues will follow suit.

Read an Excerpt From If Only...

I felt like running out the door, but I was scared and afraid that once I had already gone in, I couldn’t get out. I tried not to stare at the weed. I really didn’t want to have anything to do with drugs, but I was there. I leaned over and whispered in Marty’s ear, “Marty, I thought you’re not doing this anymore. What about your probation?” 


Marty said, “Don’t worry, no big deal. We’re just having some fun.” 


I asked for a beer. I thought that would excuse me from smoking a joint, but that wasn’t how it worked. The joint was passed around and there was no way I was getting out of this one. Everyone was cracking jokes, laughing. It was Marty’s turn, and I was next. 


I wanted to say, “I’ll pass, not into it,” but before I could say anything, Marty put his arm around me, giving me a squeeze, “Don’t be a drag! Try it!” 


I said, “Really, pass it on, I’m not into it.” 


Trisha asked, “So what are ya doing here if you’re not into it?” 


“Marty brought me.” Marty poked me hard with his elbow and whispered, “Come on, this stuff isn’t gonna hurt you. Do it for me.”  I gave in, hoping that I could fake it and not really inhale it all in. But Marty was all over me, helping me get it right the first time around. It wasn’t like I was going to die or anything. I was surprised when I inhaled a big drag, coughing afterwards.


Mat and Pete said, “Way to go, Lisa!”  


I quickly passed the joint over to Roger. Then I felt my cell phone vibrating in my jean’s pocket. I checked out the number and saw that my mom was calling me, again. I had missed my three o’clock lesson with Nina. I’m always messing up and this was only my second lesson with Nina. How the hell am I going to get out of this one?  I planned to tell my mom I was just hanging out with friends and so what if I took some time off? What’s the big deal? I would give her the big speech, “You’re exaggerating like always, always making a big deal out of everything. Why can’t you be like other parents?”  I hated lying to my mom, but I have to admit I was good at it.


The joints came around and around. I laughed for no reason and finished off the pretzels in front of me. 

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