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Bayley Albrecht’s dream is to play soccer on BYU’s South Field. When she is invited to soccer camp the summer before her senior year in high school, she just knows she’s one step closer to her dream. Things get even better when she meets Matt Macauley, the star of the men’s soccer team. When they decide to write each other while Matt is on his mission, Bayley figures her life can’t get any better. But it certainly can get worse . . .
After she receives a minor concussion from playing soccer, Bayley discovers she had a disease called alopecia which causes her to lose her hair. As Bayley struggles to deal with the reality of her baldness she finds herself having to make some tough decisions. Can she still play soccer? Does she even want to? More importantly, should she tell Matt? And will he still want her when she does? Becoming Bayley is the story of one girl’s journey through self-discovery, of the definition of true love, and of the realization that as a daughter of God, she is of infinite worth.
About the Author
I smacked her hand away. “Knock it off,” I growled, as I
went back to folding my favorite old jersey.
“Just a little makes all the difference.” My little sister,
Fin, leaned in again, the ball of her shimmering pink lip gloss only inches
from my mouth.
I dodged it and laid the shirt into my duffel.
“Come on. You’ll be the only girl there who doesn’t wear
“I’m going to soccer camp, not EFY, which means I’ll be
playing soccer. Sweating and running
and kicking trash. All that mess would melt right off my face. Besides, I have
bigger things to worry about.”
“Sadie says there are boys at camp,” she sang as she flipped
her long blonde hair over her shoulder. “Maybe your future husband will be
there, and he won’t even notice you because you’ll be so ordinary.”
It was such a Fin thing to say. She was always thinking she
was going to meet her eternal companion everywhere she went, even though she
was only fourteen. She wouldn’t even walk to the end of the driveway unless she
was glammed up.
I caught her stuffing a tube of waterproof mascara into the
front pocket of my bag. Apparently I wasn’t being clear enough. I unearthed it.
It hit the wall with a nice bang.
“Mom!” she yelled
toward the hall. “Bayley threw my makeup!”
“Bayley Agnes Albrecht!” Mom
yelled. I cringed at my middle name. “You knock it off, right now. You’re
supposed to be in bed.”
“I’d have been asleep twenty minutes ago, but she keeps
trying to give me a makeover. Can you please tell her to back off?” Fin glared.
I gave her a tooth-glinting grin.
“Get in bed, Finley!” Mom called from downstairs. She was on
the couch, finishing a crossword puzzle. “Dad expects you ready at six a.m.”
Fin’s hair bounced as she raced to the balcony. “Dad said I
could go with you guys.”
“I don’t know, sweetie. It’s up to Bayley.”
I headed for the balcony too. We’d already made this
decision. Leave it to Fin to play Mom and Dad against each other. I leaned my
head over the railing. “No,” was all I said.
“Why not?” Fin snapped back, her green eyes flashing.
I looked down at Mom. “You promised it would just be us.”
“I know,” Mom said. “But it will be really boring for her.
She’ll be on the road all day in that hot truck.”
“And Dad doesn’t listen to cool music like you,” Fin said,
batting her long mascara-coated lashes at me.
I squeezed my eyes shut for a second. Chase and I had both
spent hours riding in Old Blue—Dad’s 1972 International—hauling
cattle and sheep. “Then she’s paying her dues.”
Fin opened her mouth to protest.
“No,” I said again before striding back to my room.
Fin followed me, shutting my bedroom door behind her so Mom
“Why not?” That was Fin’s main tactic in life—wear
people down until she got her way. It worked with my parents but not with me.
I packed a spare pair of pajamas on top. “I just want a
quiet drive down to BYU, and I won’t get that with you in the car.”
“If Chase were here, he’d let me go.”
“No. He wouldn’t.” I kept packing. Actually, maybe he would.
He had more patience with our sister’s antics than I did. But since he was
currently in Brazil, and would be for another year, I felt justified in
answering for him.
Her fists balled up. Her nostrils were flaring; wait for it,
wait for it . . . Mt. Finsuvius erupted on a daily
basis. “I wish . . . I wish you weren’t even my sister!” She ran from the room.
Her bedroom door slammed shut.
“Bayley,” Mom said.
I didn’t need to walk to the balcony. I could already see
her eyebrows puckered up, her lips pursed. She was good with the guilt. I
gritted my teeth as I headed to Fin’s room. My fist froze halfway to her door.
Why did I always have to be the one to give in? Why did Fin always win? I’d
saved up for months to pay for camp, and I wanted it exactly how I wanted it.
And that started with a quiet drive to campus, just Mom and me, which wouldn’t
happen if I had to listen to Fin and her boy chatter all the way there.
Besides, it wasn’t going to kill her to spend a little time with Dad. And it
wouldn’t hurt for the two of us to take a break from each other.
I went back to my room and finished packing.
* * * * *
I only wanted two things from my BYU soccer camp experience.
First, I needed Natalie Myer, BYU women’s head coach, to see me play. Like
really play. She’d seen some of my videos from tournament games, but never in
Actually, that’s not the whole truth. I didn’t just want her
to see me play, what I really wanted was for
Coach Myer to offer me a spot on the team for the fall season of my freshman
year—a mere fourteen months away. Time was ticking. I needed this thing
in the bag.
My second hope for this week was simple: to play on South
South Field was my dream.
When I got there I would walk to midfield, take a deep
breath, and kick the ball dead into the goal—the one directly in front of
If I could do those two things then emptying my savings
would be well worth it.
“You’ll be fine?” Mom asked for the fifth time as she put
the car in park. I didn’t need her walking me to my dorm room. She’d hovered
enough at registration.
“Because I can stay if you need me to. We can get a
“No.” I shook my head. “You need to get back. Who knows what
shape Dad would be in if you left him alone with Fin all week?” I reached over
and squeezed her hand. “Besides, I’ll be getting the whole experience this way,
“Right.” She nodded. She reached across the console of our
twenty-year-old Volkswagen Passat Diesel and gave me a tight squeeze. “Don’t be
a loner. You’re just as good as any of these girls.”
“I know, Mom,” I said with a sigh.
She held her hands up. “I’m just saying. Don’t be
intimidated. You don’t have to play club or travel to be good.”
I knew that. I spent more time than any girl I knew handling
the ball. Everywhere I went, there was a soccer ball attached to my foot.
Feeding the sheep, watering the cows, running up the mountain—it didn’t
matter, I was dribbling away.
“I’ll be fine. I promise.”
“I know you will. You can do anything. You’re my amazing
girl.” She took my cheeks between her hands and looked into my eyes. “You are.
But Fin is, too. Sisters make the best friends. Give her a chance.” She’d
probably been saving that the entire drive down, waiting for the right moment
to give that little push.
She dropped her hands as I groaned. “She’s just so . . .”
“You’re two very different people. I understand that. And I
don’t want to nag you. But I would like you to take a little time this week to
think about what you can do to improve your relationship.”
I nodded, thankful it was a short lecture. “I love you,” I
said with a smile.
“Love you too, Bayley girl,” she
said as she brushed her lips against the tip of my nose.
I stepped out of the car and threw my duffel strap over my
shoulder. The Passat rumbled off into the distance. This is just like glorified Youth Conference, only we’re playing
soccer. I looked at the building in front of me. So this was it. Helaman Halls. I’d been to BYU plenty of times. It was
where both of my parents attended college. Dad made sure we stopped by whenever
we had the chance, but I’d never stayed on campus. The brick building in front
of me looked harmless enough. Out of date, but harmless.
My first order of business was to drop off my belongings.
Maybe I would meet my roommate. I headed inside and down the hall to my door. I
groaned. It sounded like somebody was having a party in my room—squealing
and laughing. I hated squealing. I got enough of that at home. Besides, I’d
just been told I was only rooming with one other girl. Why could I hear
multiples? I slid my key in the lock and turned. When the door opened, two
girls were so giddy over something on the computer screen that they didn’t even
“He’s really cute,” a tall blonde said pointing to the
laptop. The short, squatty brunette next to her widened her eyes and wiggled
her brows. I leaned my suitcase against the couch and walked over to see what
all the fuss was about. Their hair was blocking the screen.
“What are you guys looking at?” I asked. Might as well jump
“You must be my roommate,” another girl on the couch said. I
hadn’t even noticed her there, she was so quiet. She marked the spot in the
book she’d been reading. She
laid it down and smiled. “We were waiting for you.”
That was a nice gesture. “I’m Bayley,”
I said as I extended my hand.
“India,” she said, which was kind of ironic since she was at
least half-Asian and not at all Indian. She offered me her fist. I stared at it
for a second. The blonde demonstrated, bumping their knuckles together. When
they pulled back, their fingers burst open, stretching wide as they made a
sizzling sound. I watched, slightly bewildered. Was I supposed to understand
what just happened?
“It’s our team handshake,” India said with a shrug.
My eyes skittered between them. “You all know each other?”
Great. Just what I needed. To be a fourth wheel . . . er . . . you know what I mean.
“Yeah. But no worries,” the blonde said. “We’re stoked
you’re here. I’m Jane by the way. We hail from the land of the Sun.”
“No, Vegas. I’m Rachel,” the brunette said. “Where you
Jane snapped and pointed at me. “My brother goes to the U.
He drives up there to get all his—”
“Fireworks. Right.” Everyone from Utah thought they were
comfortably acquainted with Wyoming if they ever went to Evanston, which was at
the very southwest corner. “I’m from Star Valley. Up by Jackson Hole.”
Rachel sighed as her eyes turned dreamy. “We went there for
Thanksgiving two years ago. It’s so pretty.”
I nodded. That was the other thing people always said about
Wyoming. The ones who’d been past Evanston. Either
that or they complained about the cold.
Rachel’s eyes were taking in my ponytail. “I’ve seen that
color before, but never on hair.”
I blinked. I couldn’t tell if it was a compliment or an
“It’s called red,” Jane said.
I held a fistful up to inspect in case it had changed in the
last fifteen minutes. “I know. I totally hate it.”
Rachel opened her mouth to respond but just then the door
creaked and a college-aged girl peered around. Must be the resident assistant. “You better high-tail it, girls.
You’ve only got fifteen minutes to get to orientation on the other side of
The squealing started up again. While India searched for a
rubber band for her hair, Jane and Rachel chose to spend their time slapping on
another layer of lip gloss. Maybe these girls thought they were going to meet
their future husband, just like Fin. I tightened my shoelaces and straightened
my shin guards, killing time. I was more than ready to go. I even had my bottle
of cold, mountain water.
I remained silent as we walked; their banter filled the air.
It only took two seconds to realize the thing that had captured their attention
back in the apartment was the interactive BYU men’s soccer roster. They’d been
scoping out which guys were single. These girls were not for real. I was here
for one reason and one reason only. To play some soccer, and, like I said, to
get noticed by the right people. Okay, that was two reasons. Whatever.
When we got to the Wilkinson Center, Rachel made us cut
through the building. She grabbed a pack of Wrigley’s off the shelf. “I play
better when I chew.”
I flipped my watch over. 9:54. “I’m going to head on over.
I’ll see you guys there.”
“You’re not supposed to walk around campus alone,” Rachel
reminded me. “You signed an agreement before coming, right?” So I waited.
The line in the Twilight Zone—the mini-mart area of
the building—was too long. I huffed and sighed a lot, hoping to speed
things up. I couldn’t believe we were risking being late for a pack of gum.
Once the gum was paid for we only had a minute and thirty seconds to make it
across campus and down The Stairs of Death. I’d studied the schedule and campus
map enough to know we weren’t going to make it. I didn’t care if we were
We made it to the indoor soccer field at 10:02 and that was
after sprinting. I was praying that the coaches would start a minute or so
late. No such luck. Rachel and Jane were giggling when they pulled the door
open. A hundred pair of eyes turned to look at us. My cheeks flushed, even
though I willed them not to.
“Ladies,” the men’s coach said. I recognized him from BYUtv. His eyes were friendly, but held a warning. I
slipped to the back of the group, wishing I could evaporate. He was going over
“No trash-talking. No shoving. No wandering off to other
groups. No walking around campus alone—” Rachel shot me a smug look. I
rolled my eyes. “And no gum.” I had to fight the urge to smile. Rachel looked
embarrassed, searching for somewhere to put the wad in her mouth. Jane pounded
her on the back. Rachel choked and gulped. India, who was standing next to me,
laughed under her breath.
“All right!” Coach Chadwick clapped. “Who’s ready to meet
your instructors?” A loud cry went up, and I cheered with them. It looked like
we were getting right down to business.
“Girls.” His eyes scanned the crowd. “You’ll be working with
the women’s team.” Rachel and Jane groaned along with some others. The men’s
team found that funny. What did they expect? That the coaches would be dumb
enough to let a bunch of teenage girls within a hundred feet of the men? Yeah.
My hero, Coach Myer, stepped forward. I’d seen her on TV and
had even caught a glimpse at the home game Dad took me to last year. I couldn’t
wait to get to know her. I listened carefully as she introduced her team. I’d
already put names with most of the faces because of all the games I’d seen.
Coach Myer told us which players we would be with. I was satisfied being in
Katie Taggert’s group. She was a starting midfielder.
I’m sure I could learn a lot from her. Maybe she could give me some tips on how
to bend the ball. That was something I was having a hard time mastering.
We stood back and watched as Coach Chadwick introduced his
guys—the BYU men’s team. Jane and Rachel’s tongues were hanging out of
their mouths. India scooted closer to me. I looked over at her, my forehead
crunched. Did this girl have no concept of personal space? Her expression was
confused just like mine. Her eyes moved to the left, like they were leading me
somewhere. I glanced that way, but I wasn’t sure what it was I supposed to be
looking at. Finally, she whispered, “Who is that kid and why is he looking at
you like that?”
I followed her gaze more closely this time. I groaned.
Great. Just great. Willa Sixx’s little brother was
Some kids grow up with imaginary friends. I had a nemesis.
But she wasn’t imaginary. Oh, no. She was very real and very much alive. And
she thrived on making me miserable whenever she was around. Our teams competed
for the first time when I was thirteen. By the time she walked off that field
she hated me, and she had ever since. She would always get in a jab or a hair
tug when the ref wasn’t watching. Last season she’d written an insulting word
in the dust of my car. I’m not even sure how or why this rivalry started, all I
knew was that it had. And it was a family affair. Tyler made sure to make Fin
miserable when she was in the stands watching one of our face-offs.
The way he glared at me was almost comical. The kid was a
pipsqueak, probably one of the youngest at camp. A short
stick with a big mouth. Of all the rotten luck, to end
up here the same week as a Sixx. What were the
I realized India was waiting for an answer. I shrugged.
“Just this annoying, little twerp from Green River. His sister hates me.”
India glared at him and his eyes skittered away. “That’ll
add a little spice to our week. Can he play?”
“Maybe. If he could stop talking long
enough to focus.”
“And that’s it,” Coach Chadwick called. “Let’s break up into
our groups and get to work.”
“Be careful,” India mouthed with wide eyes. It made me
I was almost to my group when Tyler bumped into me. He
covered his braces with his hand and laughed. “Oh, wait until I tell Willa.
She’s going to be so mad she didn’t come.”
What I really wanted was to trip Tyler. It wouldn’t be hard.
His shoelace was untied. But I’d learned from experience that the worst thing I
could do was acknowledge his existence. I looked straight ahead like he was
“I can’t believe you’d actually want anyone to see you play
in public,” he said. Yeah. Because I
can’t play, right? Just like my team didn’t beat your sister in districts last
year. I bit the inside of my cheeks. Lucky for him, his instructor was
waving him over. Tyler bumped me again and I had to fight the urge to shove all
ninety pounds of him to the ground. I didn’t want to get kicked out the first
“Don’t embarrass yourself too bad this week, Red,” he called
over his shoulder.
Mental eye roll.
When I got to my group, Katie was peppy and full of
enthusiasm. She glanced around. “Are we all here?” We nodded. “Follow me.” Her
blonde curls reminded me of a fluffy cumulus cloud. I glanced back to see Tyler
heading off with his group. I shook the kinks out of my neck and legs and
closed my eyes in an attempt to recalibrate my focus.
South Field. South
chanted, pumping myself up. Because this was it. The
moment I’d been waiting for . . . forever. Well, as long as I could remember. I
followed my group out into the sunlight. My vision spotted over so I closed my
eyes. I could hear the busyness of the town, the students hustling by, cars out on University Avenue. The breeze lifted a stray
tendril off my neck. I followed my group down the sidewalk, and that’s when I
realized we were heading the wrong way. South Field stadium was . . . well . .
. to the south. And we were going west. I didn’t need a compass to tell me
“Hey,” I called to Katie. “Where are we going?” I pointed to
the field of my utmost dreams.
She gave me an amused smile. “South Field is only used for
games.” She nodded to an ordinary field across the street. “You guys get to use
the practice fields.”
Ugh. Sucker punched.
A Must Read!
by Becky - reviewed on May 15, 2012
I picked this up before a long road trip, and I’m so glad I did! For 5 hours I couldn’t put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Becoming Bayley”. Susan Auten has the gift of being able to put you right in the shoes of Bayley, and force you to contemplate how you see yourself, and how much of what you see determines your self worth. I loved the honesty of the characters and the complicated nature of human beings. This book left me feeling uplifted, more self aware, and conscious of how I look on others. I’m looking forward to reading more of Susan’s books!
I cannot wait to see what this author writes next!
by Rachel - reviewed on June 15, 2012
This is one of those books that you would rather stay up until 2 am reading even though you know you have an early morning chasing your kiddos and really need your sleep. My twelve-year-old sister also loved it and devoured it in two days. The author has a gift for character development and romance. I want to put this book on my shelf and read it annually. I would also love to use this as a book club book for my young women. When is it going to come out in paperback? Finally a YA romance that stays within the For Strength of Youth boundaries. This author is awesome!!
I felt all of the things...
by Mary - reviewed on November 14, 2012
I was laying in bed the other night and I decided I wanted to start a new book before bed. I grabbed my kindle and I knew exactly what I was in the mood for. I'd had Becoming Bayley on my wish list for a few days and couldn't stop thinking about it. So, I purchased it and I'd only gotten 2% into the book and I knew I was going to stay up all night to finish it. I knew I was going to love it and I knew it was going to be an un-put-down-able book. I didn't know how this story would affect me. I love the style Becoming Bayley is written in. It feels so natural. Nothing is forced or cheesy. It's just...real. The dialogue feels like conversations I've had. Or ones I wish I'd had. I actually got giddy when Matt and Bayley met on South Field the last night of soccer camp. It was perfect. I had to re-read the scene twice before I could move on. Bayley writes Matt on his mission but while he is away she has several trials of her own. She has alopecia. A condition that makes her lose her hair. While I was reading her struggle I felt like I was actually living it. Or that I was her mother at least. "When you hurt, I hurt." I found myself bawling into my pillow at 2am because of all I was feeling for her. Here sister and mother both perform an act of love for Bayley that still has me tearing up. I was feeling all my emotions during her struggle and my heart broke for her. I love the way author Susan Auten literally shows us how Christ can heal our wounds however big or small. What a powerful message. Bayley stops writing Matt on his mission when she feels that she can't tell him about her hair loss. The love story from there actually look my breath away. When I finished the book I wouldn't actually put the book down. I was afraid of losing some it it's magic. I sat with the book in my hands and flipped to my favorite parts just to capture a little bit more before I had to close it. There were times I laughed and cried and moments that took my breath away. I'm not sorry I didn't get to sleep until 4am. I felt like I was allowed a glimpse into the trials, life and love of Bayley and Matt. This won't be the last time I read their story. I know I'll pick it up again in the future and I'll be able to feel all those wonderful feelings again. Bravo. Becoming Bayley is a truly beautiful book and I loved it. Every minute of it.
I LOVED this book!
by Cathy - reviewed on May 29, 2012
Bayley is a 17 year-old-girl. She loves to play soccer and she's kind of a tomboy, much to the dismay of her younger sister Fin. Fin is always trying to get Bayley to wear things like mascara and lip gloss and to do something different with her hair, but Bayley wants nothing to do with it, until she goes to soccer camp at BYU and sees the awesome BYU soccer player, Matt Macauley. When her roommates at the camp realize that she really likes Matt, they convince her that she's going to need to look her very best to get him to look her way. They trim help her with her hair and makeup, and just when Bayley thinks that it was all for naught and he's not going to see her anyway, he catches her on South Field. She's not supposed to be there, but the gate was open and she thought that no one would ever know. Matt challenges her to a game of PIG and then insists on walking her home, but he doesn't ask for her address so he can write her while he's on his mission. Fate steps in and allows her to see his car on her way back to Wyoming, and she decides to be brave and leave her address there. Just when she thinks it must have blown away, she receives a letter from him, and is surprised to learn that he felt the same connection to her that she felt to him. Soon, however, Bayley's life will change forever with the onset of alopecia, a disease that causes her to lose her hair. Bayley can't see how anyone, especially Matt, will ever love her in spite of her baldness. I LOVED this book! Bayley was such an amazingly strong girl. I loved her at the beginning and I loved her character even more as the book progressed. I was amazed at the way that her "friends" from her high school treated her after she lost her hair. I can't even imagine being treated the way she was. I loved Matt, his character was amazing, he was the perfect boyfriend for this book. I can't believe how real the characters seemed to me in this one. I finished this one yesterday, but I kind of still feel like I'm in Bayley's world, thinking about soccer and alopecia. I loved the way that Bayley relates the women with the issue of blood from the New Testament to herself and her own situation, it made me think of this familiar story in a different way than I ever have before, I love it when that happens.
You're gonna love this one.
by Customer - reviewed on May 15, 2012
Way beyond soccer- this is a story of how you look at yourself and how you look at others. With love. Author captured an endearing, realistic young woman and spun a story that will keep you turning the pages. Can't wait for her next one.
A great new voice
by Customer - reviewed on May 09, 2012
I love this story. Bayley is stubborn but lovable and I enjoyed her journey and watching her grow.
A Must Read!
by Holly - reviewed on June 08, 2012
Every now and then I come across a new author that makes me think, "Where has this person been hiding?". I know I'll read whatever they put out. Susan Auten is one of those authors. When I began reading this story I was a little concerned it was moving too fast to allow me to feel a connection with the characters, but that concern quickly dropped away as I became engrossed in the plot. The dialogue is fantastic and the characters felt very real. Bayley is the type of person you'd want to be friends with. There were several moments when I laughed out loud, a few times when I cried, and even times when I felt the Spirit as I read. And of course my favorite part---the romance! I can't say enough about how much I loved the romantic element of the story. It was written in such a realistic and sweet way that you couldn't help but feel involved. With a brand new baby in the house sleep is a precious commodity, but I couldn't stop reading to find out what was going to happen! I'd never heard of alopecia before and now have a whole new level of sympathy and respect for people who suffer from it. In addition to that, I feel like the lessons Bayley learns on her journey are applicable to anyone who has struggled with physical ailments and wondered "why me?" There are such tender lessons to be learned here. In order for me to give a book 5 stars it has to have two components: one, that I want to read it again. Two, that I continue to think about the story long after I've finished it. This book absolutely filled both of those requirements for me. It's a rare gem. I'm anxiously looking forward to what Auten puts out next!
by hayley - reviewed on July 20, 2012
this book is amazing and is, for sure, in my top five. what i mainly love about this book is that bayley get alopecia and starts to build walls to block herself out of reality and then later in the book she takes chances and starts tearing down some walls. this book is amazing and i have recommended it to all of my friends.