The One Apart

A Novel

Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he's lived before.

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The One Apart

Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he's lived before.

Tres is about to be born... with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he's too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

 

 

Part I: Beginning

 

  

 

 

Non nobis solum nati sumus.

— We are not born for ourselves alone.

 


 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

Memories washed over him in a flood of cascading images. Sharp, flashing scenes stabbed at his awareness.

The onslaught pursued his consciousness, ramming him with a barrage of every experience from countless lifetimes.

With a white-hot blaze across the screen in his mind, realization became revelation.

Tres remembered everything.


 

Chapter 2

 

 

 

Sancha hiked up her oversized denim overalls and thumped down the hallway of the only home she knew. The wooden floorboards creaked beneath her swollen, bare feet, sounding the warning of a pregnant teenager on the move.

She tugged at a dark auburn ringlet springing into her green eyes. “At least I still look cute—from my neck up,” she said, flinging her ponytail over her shoulder in defiance as she turned her attention to navigating the stairs.

 

 

Sancha shuffled into the kitchen and around her mother’s broad body leaning over the stove.

Please eat your breakfast today, Sancha,” Maria said, carefully weaving her tone.

“Good morning, Mother,” Sancha said, over-dramatizing. She yanked open the refrigerator, let out a sigh, and slammed the door closed again.

“Eat, please,” repeated Maria, setting a plate of hot, nutritious food on the chipped Formica table.

Sancha slid her feet across the linoleum and planted herself in a chair, resting her chin on her hands. Even the wafts of heat from her favorite foods offended her sensitive nostrils. “But I don’t feel like it,” she whined.

Maria turned around, matched her daughter’s frown, and raised the stakes with one arched eyebrow.

Sancha picked up a fork and swung it at the offensive meal with full flare. Her scowl swallowed up a forkful of runny scrambled eggs.

Maria sighed with relief and turned to address the dirty dishes. “Any day now,” she said. “And it’ll all be over.”

“I’m not keeping it! I told you!” Sancha shrieked, pounding the tabletop with her fist.

“I didn’t mean—” Maria stood alone in the kitchen, listening to her daughter stomp up the stairs again.

 

 

Sancha let the tears stream only after her bedroom door closed behind her. Her chest heaved with each sob, making her feel more vulnerable than ever.

Her future flashed before her eyes: snapshots of a rundown apartment, her hands covered in calluses, tasteless food on paper plates, the shrill cries of demanding babies surrounding her, smelly diapers piled in every corner—and no friends. It was the most damning life any teenager could conjure up.

 She’d been dragged out of school—and her social life—kicking and screaming. She missed Carol the most, the one person in the whole wide world she could tell everything to—everything except this. Sancha felt more alone than she ever thought possible.

 In school, around her friends—especially those pointless teachers and piles of meaningless homework—she never had to think about anything at all. Now, she had so many thoughts swimming around her head, she almost choked on them. They were impossible to ignore, just like all the questions and all the doubts—and the life growing inside her.

She longed for a way to make it all just go away. And she wished she’d never let that blue-eyed stranger touch her.


 

Chapter 3

 

 

 

Tres felt his body abruptly drop around him with overbearing weight, encapsulating him once again.

The mental images, the overpowering memories, finally faded. Only an ominous stillness remained.

Every cell within him began to twitch, infusing with energy—even as he felt immobile. Every joint, tendon, and bone ached under the pressure of being alive.

A deep sadness engulfed him. He pondered possible reasons. And, just as quickly, he was distracted by the presence of his own simple thoughts.

Thoughts. He realized his own thinking.

This mind—certain of its own newness—desired to explore, feel, do, be. Tres opened his eyes—tried to open his eyes. He found his eyelids fused shut.

He opened his mouth. Thick, warm syrup seeped inside his swallow. Intense fear washed over him, even as he knew exactly where—and how—he was.

Oh, no.

Tres was aware, more aware than any had ever been. In this moment, he knew everything—and yet, nothing.

He was beginning again.


 

Chapter 4

 

 

 

“AaaahhhhHHHHHH!” Sancha’s pain developed its own voice to commemorate the culmination of the last thirty-nine weeks of her life.

Maria sat at her side, holding her hand tighter than Sancha squeezed hers in return. The doubt and fear on Maria’s face confirmed for Sancha that she definitely wouldn’t live another minute.

“Aaaaaaeeeeeeeeekkkk!” Sancha ripped her hand out of Maria’s, yanked herself upright, and lurched forward to glare at the head of the attending doctor nestled between her open thighs. “What in the hell are you doing down there?” she spat like a girl possessed.

Stunned into silence, the fumbling doctor tried to retain composure. He glanced at the attending nurses standing on either side of him.

I said,” Sancha wailed, “what the hell are you doing down there? Do you even know how to get this thing out of me?”

“Sancha!” Maria snapped, clamping her daughter’s hand in hers again. She swiped at the sweat on Sancha’s forehead as if to erase the cause of the outburst.

Sancha glared at her mother, blaming her for everything she’d suffered throughout the past school year.

The doctor spoke with renewed calm. “Sancha, we’re doing the best we can. I’ve been with you through all of this. Just trust me, and relax. This baby won’t be ready to be born until you’re relaxed.”

Sancha detested the way Dr. Phillips adopted a fatherly tone. She didn’t remember her own father. She definitely didn’t need one now. “Through all of what? Where were you when that man got me pregnant?”

Maria’s palm clamped over her daughter’s mouth before it could fire one more scathing shot. Sancha wriggled her head back and forth, realized her mother intended to keep the hand glued to her mouth, and succumbed. She closed her eyes, and her strained muscles started to relax.

“That’s it...” The doctor’s voice grew distant as another wave of unbearable pain consumed Sancha entirely.


 

Chapter 5

 

 

 

The memories clung to the back of Tres’s mind: thick, rich with detail, and waiting to overpower again. Only the overwhelming impression of pure sensation kept them at bay.

His heart beat in short, sharp bursts. Every bodily part felt alive in the rawest sense. All senses absorbed information at once, none demanding priority over others.

Everything at once. His aged identity—fraught with an unnatural expanse of knowledge—attempted to describe his predicament.

He could not imagine how any one being survived the experience of becoming completely new: a blank sheet of mind space gradually filling to form an utterly individual identity.

But he had survived this. He’d survived before.

So many befores.

How many? Ages. How often? Eons. His awareness answered before his human brain could venture to calculate or summarize.

Too much. So many. All around.

The torrent of flashing images poured over him—through him—yet again: the perfect storm of every and all prior experiences.

Nooo...


 

Chapter 6

 

 

 

Sancha’s drowsy head rolled from side to side against a clean hospital bed pillow. She forced her eyes open, one at a time. Remembering her predicament, she squeezed her eyelids closed again and promised herself she would not open them until she was home in her own bed. She’d just wait out the end of the terrible dream.

Sharp pain suddenly skewered her abdomen, stretched down through her pelvis, and culminated where mounds of gauze and padded underwear wrapped around her. She winced at the agony and her own sense of dread, abruptly aware she’d never be the same again.

“Sancha...” Maria’s voice was gentler than Sancha remembered hearing it before. “Sancha, dear...”

“Can we go home now?” Sancha said, still refusing to open her eyes to reality.

“Sancha, you have to heal a bit more. Remember how hard all of this was on your body. And,” Maria drew a deep breath. “There’s... the baby.”

“It’s not mine! I don’t want to ever talk about it again. It didn’t happen! Don’t say it!”

The entire maternity ward seemed to quiet.

Maria spoke, this time as if she’d just conferred with a much higher authority. “Sancha, you must see your baby.

Sancha’s face twisted in a grimace; her hands formed fists. “No! I’m giving it away! I don’t want to see it! It doesn’t exist! Give me those papers! Let me sign the papers!”

She collapsed against the hospital bed again, out of breath and out of pleas. Maria reached out to wipe a strand of damp hair from Sancha’s forehead, felt her daughter relax at her touch. She stroked her hair as she did when Sancha was so much younger—which didn’t seem all that long ago.

When she found the right words, Maria spoke. “I will only ask you for just one thing ever again. I want you to see this child before it leaves our lives. You...” Maria’s voice broke before she finished her statement. “Sancha, you need to look at this baby before you... just look at him.”

Him. The single word affected Sancha deep down in a place she didn’t know was there. The sound of the syllable warmed her ears, caused an ache in her chest, made her pouting bottom lip tremble. A him had come out of her own body.

“It’s...” She clamped her eyes shut tighter still, but she couldn’t keep the welling water from seeping out of them. Her hands clenched the blanket on either side of her, entwined it around her fists.

 

* * *

 

Patterns swirled above in a whorl of blurred color. Tres blinked. Focusing his newly developed lenses or manipulating his occipital muscles into a squint was impossible.

He lay helpless, only able to exert his own will with subtle, undisciplined movements. The agony of his confinement in a casing he couldn’t control was dulled only by his gratitude for his newfound sight. He consoled himself with the mesmerizing hues and colors hovering overhead, watched them roll into one another and reshape into new patterns.

His new ears struggled to register the sounds converging and crumbling all around him. His consciousness managed to decipher desperation, complacency, excitement—all suspended in the air. He added his own curiosity and enthusiasm to the atmosphere.

He waited—few other choices available to him. He absorbed and translated all available sensory information.

Then, the moments unfolding became wholly familiar: little bundles of packed revelation to unwrap. Each held the potential for any combination of the full spectrum of all possibilities.

A bubble of wordless sound escaped from his mouth. Anticipation enveloped him, expanding into a complex form he hadn’t known before.

He wept with complete recognition. Moisture threatened to disable his limited vision.

So many. So much. Now again. Again.

 

* * *

 

A casual knock pre-empted the arrival of an attending nurse. Sancha heard the sounds of a metal cart rolled in, its wheels locked in place at her bedside. She took a quick puff of air and released it as the knuckles of her fists began to turn white.

She heard a rustling of linens, then Maria leaning toward her from her chair on the opposite side of the bed.

Something heavy and warm was laid against Sancha’s arm.

“Sancha...” Maria pleaded this time. “Please.

Sancha squirmed against the uncomfortable pressure on her arm.

“I can’t let you live the rest of your life,” Maria whispered, “knowing you never even saw him.”

Sancha swallowed. Her breathing quickened. She rolled her lips between her teeth. And she opened her eyes—as slowly as humanly possible.

The brightest pair of crystalline blue eyes stared back at her.

They blinked tenderly, giving away how new to blinking they actually were. Their steady gaze pierced straight through to something rooted within Sancha.

The eyes blinked again, temporarily cutting off the intense connection before opening again to resume it. Sancha rested on her bed in silence, mesmerized by the novice rhythm of blinking resembling Morse code.

Every muscle in her body relaxed. Her mouth began to form an unthinkable smile. She couldn’t help herself.

The baby—her baby—beamed at her with his big, round eyes and flooded her with the total contentment and perfect peace that wafts only from brand-new life.

 

* * *

 

Tres nestled into the soft, warm cradle. He blinked to clear his eyes, hoping to hone their focus. He blinked as his only way to communicate to this new world and convey his extreme gratitude, acceptance, and wholehearted joy.

He blinked with the love of a timeless soul in greeting to his mother.

....

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Editorial Reviews

The One Apart by Justine Avery weaves a fascinatingly intricate narrative that will captivate readers from beginning to end. Employing developed, well-rounded characters, The One Apart explores the interconnectedness of fate, spirituality, and purpose in life through a riveting chronicle of events. Avery’s work descriptively probes the complex nature of a soul reborn with daunting recollections of his previous lives. Forced to mitigate these overwhelming emotions and flashbacks, the main character must learn how to navigate a mature, educated mind trapped inside of his adolescent body. Even the very nature of his name proves confounding. While the main character’s soul identifies as Tres, his inability to communicate as an infant with his mother resigns his body in this life to accept the name Aaron. As the main character becomes older, he and his family quickly learn that something special sets this child apart from others. Only through deep psychological and metaphysical exploration can the main character begin to understand his deeper purpose or “mien” beyond this life within the large order of things. As Avery explains, “Mien is free-flowing: subtle but strong, adapting but steady. Mien is akin to what is termed ‘theme’ in your corporeality.” However, before he can fulfill and align with his true chosen position, he will first need to relinquish his role in the physical world and face his counterpart. 

This synopsis barely touches on the themes and ideas conveyed in The One Apart. Justine Avery beautifully entwines themes of love across relationships, as well as personal exploration and individual struggles, both of this world and metaphysically. Moreover, Avery touches on the difficulty of accepting death and removing oneself from dangerous situations. While some readers may find the size of the book intimidating at first, with each chapter readers will discover the ease with which Avery draws the reader in to learn and discover more. The end of each section will leave readers craving to know what happens to the main character and his family next or why a situation ended the way that it did. Readers of any age, from teenagers to those more seasoned, will appreciate the masterful narrative that Justine Avery has superbly developed in The One Apart. Her plot accomplishes significant development while not overwhelming the reader with too much information. The One Apart easily garners a five-star rating and will divulge more insight and perception each time readers explore its pages.

The One Apart is a reincarnation story with a difference: Tres has lived many lives before, and he remembers them all. As a newborn with an adult's memories, he finds himself struggling, along with his teenage mother Sancha, to adapt to a life that once again places him well apart from not only his peers, but every other human in the world.

It's rare to find a reincarnation story that begins in the womb, with the pre-birth thoughts of a boy who discovers (to his horror) that he is going to be born again, fully aware of his pasts and fully cognizant.

Justine Avery takes the time to fully explore Tres' experience, drawing readers into the idea of an old soul trapped in a new body's slow development: "Unable to reach, grasp, or even roll over, he was trapped by his own rotund, untrained form, even as his newborn brain rapidly developed. The limitations of cell reproduction, tendon growth, and even his small size stifled his physical ability while his brain charged with electric pulses, new synapses, and mental connections at an exceptional rate. His body grew unbearably slowly; his mind raced to adapt, process, and encompass the timeless, intangible knowledge contained in his consciousness."

It's her attention to such depth and detail that makes The One Apart more than just another story of living multiple lives, fully immersing readers in the growth experiences, struggles, and thoughts that shape Tres/Aaron's life.

As Tres/Aaron faces the usual challenges of peer relationships and growing up, he also faces the fact that there's a reason why he's being reborn time after time - and that reason involves a threat only he can perceive.

Tres becomes educated about  more than one realm, and begins to uncover not only his own purpose, but those of others around him who do not harbor his memories and special condition: "Aself selects corporeal life—the environment of a specific aspect—for the purpose of attainment, Fei imparted. Aself is inclined to seek experiences—situations, challenges, relationships—serving aself’s mien. It is... The Natural Order of Things. I chose... my life—this life? The people in it... everything that happens to me? Indeed—of a sense and to an extent—and for all of them, for each of aself’s corporeal lives."

Fans of Cloud Atlas and other similar stories of reincarnated lives and special purposes will find The One Apart offers special spiritual and psychological insights and a complexity that more casual approaches don't provide. Indeed, Cloud Atlas would be one solid comparison for readers who enjoy reincarnation stories that present insights into special purposes in and approaches to life.

From considerations of life purpose and evil to the realization that death is not a limitation or an end, but affords new beginnings, readers who follow Tres on his journey will find The One Apart an outstanding, well-detailed story that is hard to put down, evocative, thought-provoking, and filled with surprises and hope.

The One Apart is very highly recommended; especially for fans of reincarnation scenarios who can expect far more insight from this read than most, tempered with a purposeful saga to keep readers thoroughly engrossed to the end.

The One Apart: A Novel by Justine Avery is the intricate story of the reincarnation of Tres, who will be known as Aaron, for his final journey into the corporeal. The concept of the story is not like one that I have read before, and I was immediately drawn into the novel and felt a connection with the well-developed and relatable characters, particularly Sanch and Maria. The story begins with the rebirth of Tres into the corporeal Earth as he recalls every life lived before and ends with his ascension following his last earthly breath. Tres has unusually rapid development in his early childhood years that makes him seem like an oddity amidst others his age. He struggles through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood trying to seem "normal" but knowing that he's different. The unconditional love, acceptance, and understanding of his mother, grandmother, and closest friends and lover are interwoven into the story on multiple levels. Tres himself is an incredibly caring and loving man who relies on his past lives and knowledge to help others. He is trying to live his ordinary life while trying to uncover his master purpose--to find out what evil hunts him and why and how to stop it. The intricate dialogue between Tres and The OverSeer compels the reader to open his mind to understand the full depth of the story and the world beyond our reality here on earth. The themes of love, acceptance, true friendship, and kindness emanate throughout as Avery masterfully tells this unique journey.

In The One Apart by Justine Avery, Tres is born remembering all of this past lives and has been entirely aware and conscious of these memories and the world around him from the moment he awoke in his mother’s womb. Needless to say, he is not destined to live a normal life on Earth but instead is involved in several extraordinary adventures through the course of his current life on corporeal Earth. 

I was intrigued by the concept from the very beginning, and the story itself is fascinating. How does you live your life if you remember everything that ever happened for uncountable lives before this one? What is a child born like that capable of? I was caught from page one, and the pace never slowed, following through leaps covering years of Tres’s life with his mother and grandmother as he grows up, already mature, and tries to maintain some illusion of normalcy, at least for the outside world. The characters were also beautifully well constructed, and I believed all their motivations and emotions. 

... a unique perspective on the subject of what it is to be human, to grow up, and what comes after. I recommend giving this book a read and seeing for yourself how well Avery constructed this quiet, small-town family hiding the biggest secret in their corporeality.

This novel offers a very new and unusually mystical take on the idea that our reality is only the tip of the iceberg. It stretches the length of Tres/Aaron’s life, chronicling his childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood, with all the complex experiences that are a part of those periods of life.

The most striking thing about the story is the depth and realism of our hero’s relationships. There’s a realness to the love we feel from his mother and grandmother. You rarely see male relationships, whether it is friendship or rivalry, depicted so well in most modern novels as you do here. The weirdness of teenage attraction shows up in its awkward emotional immaturity, as does a more mature and very sweet romance with a realistic young woman.

The mystical element is interesting, too, though it does seem to interrupt the mundane part so the tale jumps rather awkwardly from time to time. This works in a way, however, as the true nature of reality and the overall plot becomes apparent. Just be patient with these interruptions and their odd concurrence with other events. The author took a big risk by choosing such an odd story and pulled off the ultimate explanation of how her complex world works pretty well. ...

The One Apart is a story heavy with emotion and there is some excellent writing that really carries it. Its seemingly awkward pacing is actually a bonus to its world-building, which is a very clever twist on an idea that often seems overdone. A unique tale that rewards readers who take the journey with Tres.

This is an ambitious, carefully plotted book that is, on one hand, the story of a small, close family and the trials and triumphs of daily life, and on the other, about a young man living a dual, paranormal life. It’s highly original with several unexpected twists. ... The author's careful attention to her characters’ trajectories and the unexpected turns not only in plot but in the development of authentic characters make this an engaging story that will have readers cheering for Aaron and his family.

Readers Favorite 5 Star Seal This book is A-MA-ZING!! It's for fans of The Age of Adaline and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I stand by that. If you loved any of the movies or books, you can’t miss this. Even if you haven’t watched or read any, you should still read this book.

 ... The end ... made me grab my pillow tight, pull my phone closer while grinning like a maniac. Very interesting. Can’t say more without spoilers.

I recommend this book to anyone who can read. It will make you laugh and smile. The nearly 500 pages are so worth it.

Readers Favorite 5 Star Seal First off, I must say that I was taken by the originality of the concept of the story and the plot is like nothing I have read anywhere. I enjoyed the bond between the young mother and her ageless little baby and from the moment I met the characters, I became very keen on discovering what their fate would be. Justine Avery breaks the laws of nature and lifts a veil, revealing a world that readers will become immediately curious to discover, a world of strange possibilities. From the deft treatment of the conflict to the sophisticated plot, to the masterful thematic development, The One Apart: A Novel reveals the work of a conscientious and gifted writer. Great plot, wonderful pacing, and memorable characters! You’ll feel a strange familiarity with the characters and will want to be part of their world. 

Readers Favorite 5 Star Seal There is much to enjoy in The One Apart and the concept behind the story is original and intriguing. An ageless adult, who barely understands his origins, reborn into a world that isn’t as welcoming as should be for any normal human being, Tres is an enigmatic character that readers will love to follow. Justine Avery’s treatment of themes is masterful, exploring the concepts of mortality and eternity, developing a powerful psychological conflict that draws the reader irresistibly into the world of the protagonist. The story is told in excellent prose and a gripping narrative voice. It is one thing to have a great idea for a story, but executing that idea is a whole different game. However, the author of The One Apart demonstrates great mastery, creating worlds that readers will love to explore. Good pacing, a complex plot, and sophisticated characters are things you’ll find in this enjoyable tale. 

Readers Favorite 5 Star Seal The One Apart: A Novel by Justine Avery is a very creative, interesting and dynamic story of a man named Tres. This novel had my heart racing. I literally became one with Tres; I felt what he felt and understood what he wanted. The element of mystery is very strong and very well handled by the author. Tres’s growth is exponential, in fact, everything is well timed and according to a set pattern that only the author knows. The reader keeps on guessing and being surprised at what the author comes up with. I was on the edge of my seat and enjoying every single moment! Gorgeous cover and amazingly well written.


Reader Reviews

This is the most thought-provoking book I have ever read. It has many messages that you can apply to your daily life. It reminds you to follow your purpose, to guide others with kindness and to be who you truly are. All of these messages are wrapped up in an amazing science fiction story of rebirth and second chances. Truly a wonderful read!

Full of plot twists and details that keep you on the edge of your seat, this book faces head-on questions people might find difficult to ask themselves. This book is thought-provoking and full of philosophical questions. The characters are well-developed and easy to connect with, no matter who you are. This is an incredible book that is full of emotion, suspense, and thrill.

This book from the beginning drew me in. It was intricately written and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it, always wanting more. The book promotes you to think about life and our space here on earth while telling a beautiful story, keeping the reader locked in. If you like psychological thriller meets a spiritual idea then I would highly recommend giving this book a read!!!

Reading about reincarnation puts a lump in my throat, especially when family and distance is involved. Science fiction describes reality in ways other stories cannot. There is less of a clever ploy and more of a story about being alive in Avery's "The One Apart." I love stories that fuse spiritual sort of creepy concepts into human reality.