Books Exclusives

Zoe Battles Her Social Anxiety In An Exclusive Excerpt From PAPER GIRL

One teen explores the depth of her anxiety in Cindy R. Wilson’s PAPER GIRL!

In Cindy R. Wilson‘s powerful new contemporary Paper Girl, Zoe has extreme agoraphobia– aka the fear of leaving one’s home. In fact, she hasn’t left home in over a year. She’s created her own safe space there with hobbies like paper crafting and online friends via her favorite chess app. Her whole world is thrown upside down when her mother hires a new tutor, Jackson, a boy that she used to have a major crush on back when she still attended school. Jackson’s mere presence dares Zoe to wish for more, but that doesn’t change the fact that she sees life beyond her home as an impassable obstacle. After all, the world is made of fire and she is a paper girl.

In an exclusive excerpt courtesy of Entangled Teen, we see just how Zoe’s anxiety affects her as she makes a short trip into the outside world with Jackson and her older sister, Mae. What may not seem like much to most people is a jarring, monumental task for Zoe, who clearly has a lot on her mind.

Take a look:


My shoes sparkled with every step to the elevator, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers on the yellow brick road. We both just wanted to get home.

And clearly, BlackKNIGHT wanted that, too. Whoever and wherever he was right now, I hoped he was finding a way.

We reached the elevator after a million years, and Mae quickly pushed the button, her mouth pressed into a serious line.

Jackson squeezed my arm, and even through the pain in my chest, I could feel the strength and certainty in his grip. “What did you learn today?”

My mind whirled with possibilities. And then choked on reality. “It’s seventy-six steps from…from the mailboxes to the elevator.”

The doors popped open, and he guided me inside. Mae used her key card and pressed the button for the top floor. When the doors closed, the rest of the air vanished with it. My fingers clawed at Jackson’s arm, squeezing tight.

“Zoe?” Mae asked, her arm brushing mine. “Just breathe.”

I could push air out, but not much would come back in. Panic gripped me, making me look at Mae.

“Remember what Dr. Edwards said? It’s not going to kill you. You’re in control of this.”

She was right. I knew deep down that a panic attack wouldn’t kill me. It was a matter of making it through the worst part and believing that I wasn’t going to die, even though it felt like it. The calmer I was, the faster it would pass.

But instead of Dr. Edwards’s voice in my head, I heard Gina’s. These are steps, Zoe. Even if they’re hard, they matter. They’re progress.

“Almost there,” Mae said.

Jackson’s thumb rubbed my arm. “Did you know that you can get kidnapping and ransom insurance?”

I took a short breath and ventured a glance up. “In case…you think you might get kidnapped and ransomed?”

A smile in his eyes, he said, “Absolutely. You can’t be too careful.”

Paper Girl hits shelves on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. You can preorder it now via…

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Entangled Publishing


I haven’t left my house in over a year. My doctor says it’s social anxiety, but I know the only things that are safe are made of paper. My room is paper. My world is paper. Everything outside is fire. All it would take is one spark for me to burst into flames. So I stay inside. Where nothing can touch me.

Then my mom hires a tutor. Jackson. This boy I had a crush on before the world became too terrifying to live in. Jackson’s life is the complete opposite of mine, and I can tell he’s got secrets of his own. But he makes me feel things. Makes me want to try again. Makes me want to be brave. I can almost taste the outside world. But so many things could go wrong, and all it takes is one spark for everything I love to disappear…


Cindy R. Wilson is a YA speculative and contemporary author whose own struggles with anxiety disorder inspired her to write a story with a real-life topic readers can relate to. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and loves using Colorado towns and cities as settings for her stories. She’s the mother of three girls who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels.

When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking some of Colorado’s tallest peaks, reading, or listening to playlists she’s created for her next story idea.


Twitter: @CindyRWilson

Facebook: @AuthorCindyRWilson

Instagram: @CindyRWilson

By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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