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September 7, 2016

Coming-of-Age Mystery Explores Harsh Realities of Inner-City Life

cover of Watermark
Through swimming, Angel Ferente found relief from the troubles of home—a refuge from the responsibility of caring for her three younger sisters. But now, instead of being scouted by schools and getting ready for college, the talented high school senior in Elise Schiller’s debut novel, Watermark, has disappeared without a trace.

Raised by a drug-addicted mother and criminal step-father, Angel became her younger sisters’ only hope—and the rock that held her family together. Now, Angel is nowhere to be found. Last seen on public transit in the middle of the night, the talented competitive swimmer with an independent streak could have ended up just about anywhere. But on the rough streets of inner-city Philadelphia in the early 90’s, in a community plagued by drugs and violent crime, her family and friends are finding plenty of cause for concern.

“Narrated by Angel’s troubled younger sister Jeannine and her swim teammate Alex, Watermark explores the challenges of growing up in the inner city in the midst of the crack epidemic and how one girl found refuge through swimming  and the steadfast support of her team,” says Schiller. “Alex and Jeannine form a bond as they find ways to cope with Angel’s absence.”

With the help of their coach, CJ, and his local church, Angel’s teammates must work quickly to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and locate the talented young teen before it’s too late.

Watermark offers a unique exploration into many timely and poignant themes, including:
  • Problems with our child protective services
  • All young people have assets and strengths to be nurtured, regardless of race or economic status
  • The difference in education in the United States based on the economic status of the community is unconscionable
  • Social investments need to be made on the front end because the stresses of poverty and the resulting trauma are much harder to address, often impossible
  • The importance of youth sports and other youth development activities
Shedding light on the unique challenges of growing up in the chaos of poverty within a damaged family, Watermark, part captivating mystery, part coming-of-age story, in not to be missed!

About the Author:

A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, PA, Elise Schiller has spent more than three decades providing education and youth services in inner-city communities through her work in non-profit organizations, including her most recent 16-year position as the associate executive director at EducationWorks. Though she has published several short stories over the years, Watermark is her debut novel.

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