Debut author Cristina Moracho’s Althea and Oliver (out Oct. 9) is like Eleanor & Park, but set in the ’90s.
According to the official description, it’s “Spring 1996. Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since first grade, living on the same block in Wilmington, North Carolina. Now they’re juniors, developing romantic feelings for each other—and things go off the rails. Oliver contracts Kleine-Levin Syndrome, also known as ‘Sleeping Beauty syndrome'; he’s in bed for weeks at a time, and remembers nothing, especially not what he might do in the middle of an episode. What happens during one of those episodes shatters their friendship, and before they can talk about it, his mother enrolls him in a sleep study in Manhattan. He leaves without telling Althea. She follows him, and the surprising conclusion to their lifelong story will completely satisfy readers.”
As Moracho herself tells it, “Learning about Kleine-Levin Syndrome was definitely the original catalyst for this book, but it was always meant to tell these two stories—the boy who grapples with this mysterious affliction, and the girl who finds herself dreading his next episode or enduring those lonely days without him.
“Althea and Oliver arrived simultaneously in my imagination, and while the story evolved over time, it has always belonged equally to them both,” she says.
*Warning: The excerpt contains explicit language.