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CBS New York readers have chosen their first book for 2024!
The CBS New York Book Club is off to a thrilling start for a new year of reads.
After casting thousands of votes, you selected "Where You End," by Abbott Kahler as the first Readers' Choice for 2024.
In a video message to our readers, Kahler said her book "was actually inspired by spine-chilling true events."
"Where You End" is about a woman who wakes from a coma with amnesia and must rely on her identical twin for the answers about her life. But then she realizes her sister is lying to her to hide their dangerous past. When she tries to uncover the truth, she has no idea of the catastrophe she's inviting.
Get your copy of "Where You End" and read along with our Book Club Facebook group, leading up to our Book Club show next month.
to find out more about each of the FicPicks we considered this round.
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"Where You End" By Abbott Kahler
From the publisher: When Kat Bird wakes up from a coma, she sees her mirror image: Jude, her twin sister. Jude's face and name are the only memories Kat has from before her accident. As Kat tries to make sense of things, she believes Jude will provide all the answers to her most pressing questions:
Who am I?
Where am I?
What actually happened?
Amid this tragedy, Jude sees an irresistible opportunity: she can give her sister a brand-new past, one worlds away from the lives they actually led. She spins tales of an idyllic childhood, exotic travels, and a bright future.
But if everything was so perfect, who are the mysterious people following Kat? And what explains her uncontrollable flashes of violent anger, which begin to jeopardize a sweet new romance?
Duped by the one person she trusted, Kat must try to untangle fact from fiction. Yet as she pulls at the threads of Jude's elaborate tapestry, she has no idea of the catastrophe she's inviting. At stake is not just the twins' relationship, but their very survival.
Abbott Kahler lives in New York City and Greenport, New York
Excerpt: "Where You End" By Abbott Kahler
The Night of the Accident
It was just like me to go ahead and die, leaving her behind. That's what I'd hear her say, if I could hear her at all. Foolish, careless, typical. Expected, even. Another instance in which she was forced to clean up my mess, tend to my mistakes. Her guillotine voice would curse me in the sweetest tones. She would softly rake her bloody fingernails against my lifeless arm. She would say all the right things to lure me back, and keep all the wrong things to herself.
On that night we left the old neighborhood just as the rain began to fall. I ran first—I've always gone first—leading her back the way we came: through a colony of dusty relics, across a lush runway of grass, down a street where the homes are crowded with ghosts. I was not right. There was a pulsing inside my head, the tempo and weight of a thousand percussive drums, but I convinced myself otherwise, let my mind talk me into believing my own lies.
As we set off, me behind the wheel and my twin sister by my side, the rain stopped and I felt a shivery relief. The clouds cleared and the full moon shot its light through the craggy branches, illuminating the road ahead.
I saw the deer's body right before I swerved hard right, its long neck snapped unnaturally back. Then came a tree and a sheet of glass and the feeling that my head had launched away from my body, soaring into the sky, too far for me to retrieve it. I had time to form one last thought before my mind emptied itself of all things: She will know how to fix me.
Hours after the Accident
Jude sits in the hospital waiting room, folding and unfolding her hands, her fingernails still stained with her sister's blood. Kat has been wheeled off to some distant room but Jude can see her perfectly—a tangle of wires on her chest and a tube stabbing her throat and the nurses fluttering about like a flock of poisoned birds. A drop of sweat falls onto Kat's cheek. Machines blink and hiss. Instruments maneuver and gleam. Her long, taut body is hidden beneath a sheet. She has lost all sense of herself. The light begins to dim behind her closed eyes and Jude watches it happen, an excruciating descent, a darkening by degrees.
Kat is leaving her.
Against Jude's will, her body holds itself absolutely still; the only moving part is a ticker in her mind, tallying Kat's absence. One second, two, ten. Jude's brain pulses and her heart grows quiet, as though the two organs are trading places, confusing their functions. Thirty seconds, thirty-five. Her lips collapse into a severe blue slash, trapping her breath behind them. Eighty-nine, ninety. Her ears register a strident voice, telling her to come back and stay with him, stay with him, stay with him, that's it, steady, steady, good . . .
"Miss," the doctor says, grasping Jude's arm. "Are you okay?" Those interminable ninety seconds rewind. Her body frees itself.
Her mind resumes being a mind and her heart a heart, racing and pounding as minds and hearts do. Her lips part and allow greedy gulps of breath. The waiting room shakes itself out and returns to its proper form: four dingy beige walls, a fake plant with dusty leaves, a tidy line of stackable fabric chairs, the sounds of coughing and weeping and the nightly news predicting nuclear war. The doctor squeezes Jude's arm again and confirms what she already knows: Kat had been gone but now she is halfway back, alive but in a coma. He whispers a series of chilling words: traumatic brain injury, intercranial pressure, damaged axons. She will live but might never be the same. Jude should expect the worst. She should prepare.
All their lives they've compensated for each other, and now, with Kat lying still and silent and swathed in bloody ribbons, Jude begins to do the work of her twin's brain. Kat must be wondering why it's so dark behind her eyes, a dark deeper than sleep, and why the voices she hears seem so slushy and far away. Her arms itch where the needle has impaled her skin and she's dying to scratch, but her other arm is weighted by something unseen. She is frustrated and scared and, above all, angry—why is she flattened and immobile instead of out in the world, raising a glass and toasting everything to come? She tries to rescue her voice, but the words stick in the grooves of her tongue.
She is counting on Jude to bring her around, to restore her so that they are again a perfect whole.
"Kat," Jude says, her mouth clamped to her sister's ear, her lips fitting perfectly in the curves and folds, her voice aimed deep into the canal. "I know you hear me. You are not allowed to die. I will kill you if you die, and then where will we be? Do you want us to spend all of eternity haunting each other's ghosts?"
Even under the bandages, Kat still looks like Jude—an opposite replica of her. Mirror image twins, they're called. A heightened, italicized version of identical, when the embryo splits later than usual. Jude is right-handed and Kat favors her left. Their hair whorls push in different directions, Kat's clockwise and Jude's counter. Their voices, too, establish balance: Kat's is frenzied and rushed, a freight train in danger of careening offtrack; Jude's is measured and parsed, doled out in careful servings, as though in danger of drying up. The same purple vein snakes along opposing temples, pulsing when they are excited or angry or shocked. A birthmark on either shoulder, a deepened dimple on either cheek, one slightly elongated incisor on either side of their mouths.
Excerpted from WHERE YOU END: A Novel by Abbott Kahler. Published by Henry Holt and Company. Copyright © 2024 by Abbott Kahler. All rights reserved.
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