The Only Boy by Jordan Locke Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch's senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out. Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed. Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him. Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
Read an Excerpt
I place the biology textbook on a stainless-steel table, flip through the yellowing pages and stop on a cross-section of a woman. Her organs are carefully illustrated—heart, lungs, uterus. The next page is missing. Not ripped out. Cut, as if sliced with a surgeon’s scalpel.
The library at home has the complete book. I’ve seen the missing page—the anatomy of man. An extinct creature, as far as anyone knows.
A voice from behind says, “What are you reading?”
My shoulders tense when I turn to see Mary. None of the girls at home looked like her—dark eyes, perfectly straight nose and full, round lips. Her hair brushes my cheek as she leans over. She shouldn’t be so close. I ease the book shut and try to look calm.
“We studied biology last year,” she says. “Did your teacher go over it?”
In Section Seven, we self-studied, but she doesn’t need to know that. “No.” I carry the book to the shelf.
She follows. “You should read the part on genetics. It’s really interesting.”
I slip the book between a car manual and a medical dictionary. “I’ve read the whole thing.”
“But you said you hadn’t studied it yet.”
To avoid her gaze, I stare out the window at the abandoned skyscrapers and trash-covered barriers. “Don’t you have class or something?”
“We’re on lunch break.”
I growl. “Go eat.” My voice is too husky, too deep.
“I was tryin’ to be nice.” She turns to walk away.
I grab her wrist to stop her. Her skin is warm and smooth.
“What are you doing?” She wrenches her arm free. “You’re gonna end up in the pit.”
I step away, and she hurries toward the door, shoulders back and chin high. The loose-fitting hospital gown can’t hide the curve of her figure.
I want to touch her again.
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