'Finding Felicity' By Stacey Kade Is About A Girl Who Made Up An Entire Life — Based On A '90s TV Show

If you went to college far away from your childhood hometown, you probably remember how your emotions ebbed between what could only be described as "feverish enthusiasm" and what would charitably be labelled as "numbing loneliness." I wouldn't say college is the time when you truly learn who you are, but it sets the foundation for building who you are. A new young adult novel, Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade, tackles that precarious life stage with a little grace, a touch of humor, and a lot of heart — plus, a ton of references to one '90s TV show.

Caroline as always struggled to fit in and make friends — and her parents divorce and a move to Arizona three years ago certainly didn't make things any easier for her. Desperate to please her mother, Caroline makes up an entire life for herself, all based on the characters from a '90s television show she saw online and inexplicably fell in love with — Felicity. But when her mother discovers her secret, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: find real friends and make a life for herself in her first semester in college — or come back home. Caroline accepts the challenge, but she soon discovers it's harder finding a place where you belong than she ever imagined.

Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade, $18, Amazon (Pre-Order)

Finding Felicity will be available on March 20, but Bustle has an excerpt you can start reading now:

Excerpt

As soon as my mom is inside, I make my way to the other side of the patio, out of sight of the windows, as if that will convince her that guests have arrived and I must be off talking to them somewhere.

The band sounds more than decent, and the food smells delicious, making my mouth water, despite the fact that I’ve already eaten a full dinner.

For a moment I allow myself to imagine what it would be like. People chatting at the food table, possibly shoving around each other to get at the shrimp rolls. Someone would have spiked the bowl of punch by the ice sculpture by now, I’m sure.

I would be moving easily around the party, speaking to this group or that one, without stammering or freezing up. Maybe flirting a little with Liam, who would take me under his wing, including me in the conversations I would normally miss.

I can see it so clearly that it makes my heart lift temporarily. I want that feeling of belonging, of being accepted. Confident in knowing that they’re mine and I’m theirs.

But it’s not real. I blink and the image in my head is gone, not even lingering like the flash from a camera. Just gone.

"I can see it so clearly that it makes my heart lift temporarily. I want that feeling of belonging, of being accepted. Confident in knowing that they’re mine and I’m theirs."

An all-too-familiar sadness, the kind that always comes from the bubble bursting, rises up in me. It happens a lot more now than it used to. Some of the stories I’ve created in my head or told to my mom are so real and so close to what I want, it feels like a loss when something breaks the spell.

But this time I straighten my shoulders and push that sadness away. It’s different now. Because in three months, I’ll have my fresh start at college. I’ll have my friends. And none of it will be fictional. I just have to be patient for a little longer.

I head toward the food table to kill some more time and because the meatballs in particular smell amazing. But as I do, I catch a glimpse of my mom through the bay window in the kitchen. And she’s on the house phone, her brow furrowed.

A hospital call, maybe. Especially with Sophie there at her side, reading something off her ever-present tablet. Though Mom usually gets calls from the hospital on her cell phone....

The pieces click together a fraction of a second too late. She’s already talking.

Oh no.

“Mom!” I run for the house and throw myself through the partially open sliding glass door, my hip colliding with the edge of the metal frame. Pain shoots through me like an electric shock, but I keep moving.

I burst into the kitchen. “Mom! Hang up!”

“At Stella’s lake house. I see,” my mother says into the phone, turning away from me.

Dread bubbles up in me, like the nasty slime that spreads through the pool when the chemicals are wrong.

I can’t hear what Liam’s mom is saying, but I can fill in the blanks, imagine her confusion at this call. I’ve never been to Liam’s house, never met his mother, though I’ve seen her when I’ve driven by their home.

"Dread bubbles up in me, like the nasty slime that spreads through the pool when the chemicals are wrong."

I knew the truth would eventually come out — I’m not stupid — but I always imagined it as something I’d tell my mom years from now, something we’d laugh about long after it lost the power to hurt either of us.

“I don’t understand,” my mom says, fidgeting with a wine cork left abandoned on the quartz counter of the island. She is steadfastly avoiding looking at me. “Does this have something to do with the girls? Their falling out?”

I freeze, a statue in a too-bright floral print. The girls. Oh no, no, no. “Mom, please,” I try again, moving closer. “Hang up.”

But she’s frowning at something Dr. Fanshaw is saying.

And then time seems to grind to an excruciating halt. “I’m sure you know them. Joanna Duncan, Felicity Porter, Elena Tyler, and Julie—”

“They’re fictional!” I shout. Anything to make her stop. “I made it all up!”

Mom stares at me, the color draining from her cheeks.

“They’re fictional!” I shout. Anything to make her stop. “I made it all up!”

Liam’s mother says something, tinny and faint in the phone, but I can’t hear what.

Oh God. I turn away and sink to the floor in front of the island, the cool tiles burning through my dress to my skin.

“I’m going to have to call you back,” my mom says into the phone finally. “Yes, I’ll be sure to clarify with Caroline.” Her words, thin with anger and confusion, sound like the end of everything.