Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway: Sharing My Words (Elizabeth Isaacs)



I’ve always been a closet writer. As a child I used to write journals in code so no one else could understand them. Weird, I know, but the thought of putting my feelings on paper terrified me to no end. What if someone read them? It’d be like reading a part of me, and so I figured that a code was the only way I could do what my heart wanted to do and still feel safe. Thankfully, today technology assures that I no longer need codes. I now have hidden files and secured flash drives.

I’m an elementary music teacher by profession, which I must say is one of the greatest jobs on the planet. It wasn’t until my school started a “writing buddy” program for our low performance students that writing and teaching came together. For years Kentucky required writing portfolios as part of state assessments, and without extra help these kiddo’s wouldn’t make it.

The staff went through extensive training on how to teach students to be better writers, and that fall I jumped in feet first. I knew it’d be a challenge, but what I didn’t realize was that the whole process would ignite a passion within me. Expanding moments to include all five senses, thought-shots, hooking the reader, and show-don’t-tell became my favorite part of the day. I happily volunteered my planning time and came in early. In the evenings, I found myself thinking of ways to help the students understand how word-choice and restructuring sentences made a piece stronger. It was extremely gratifying to watch their faces light up when we looked at the final draft and compared it to the first, or to see them proudly telling others that their work had been “published” at our school. It was then I understood that these children were more courageous than I had ever been. They shared their words … I hid mine.

And so three years ago when my daughter Kate hit a rough patch at school, inspiration struck. I’d create a world where selfishness and negativity didn’t exist, and I’d find the courage to at least share my words with her.

Little did I know that I’d end up sharing them with the world.


If Nora Johnson hadn't been on campus that day she would have never known her true destiny. Helping her friends move into the dorm that she wanted to call home, Nora accidentally collides with mysterious stranger, Gavin Frey. His very first touch sends flames through her heart. The world seems different-something within her has changed.

Nora tries to resume her mundane life, but she is now consumed with the one whose very presence ignited her soul, the one with eyes of emerald. Nora soon learns that an energy buried deep within has been unleashed. She now wields unimaginable power and has become Gavin's source, his strength. 

Her newfound joy is shaken when she discovers that Gavin is not who he appears to be and she has been thrust in the middle of a war of mythical proportions. Negativity has allowed all things evil to flourish, the earth is under siege. The fate of creation hinges on the power within her heart. Will she be strong enough to survive?

A gripping tale of unbounded love and ancient power, The Light of Asteria will take you on an epic adventure filled with war, treachery, and demons, as well as unimaginable delights.



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Friday, June 24, 2011

ARC Review: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but in his sophomore year he starts growing...and growing.

During gym one day he smokes the football jocks in a 600-yard race. Felton has never been interested in sports, but there's no doubt-he is "stupid fast." As he juggles his newfound athletic prowess, his mom's sudden depression, an annoying little brother, and his first love, he discovers a shocking secret about his past which explains why he's turning out the way he is.


Details:

Published June 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

Available: Stupid Fast | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

The Elliott Review:

The writing style of this book is what makes it shine. At first I was worried because Felton's thoughts flow a little differently than is typical for most books, but after the first few chapters I was hooked on Felton! His point of view is unique and funny in an understated, sarcastic sort of way. He's nutty and sensitive and yet still a boy who doesn't like talking about feelings or focusing on the hard parts of life. I love all the hyperboles and exaggerations. It makes Felton very, very real.

The psychological issues in the book are presented in a way that doesn't make this feel like an "issue" book while at the same time really grabbing the heartstrings. Felton never really takes a victim approach to what has happened to him in life, though he definitely could. I love the way he can gain release from some of his family issues through physical exertion. I like how Felton doesn't find the "easy" way out. Though he ultimately has to face his problems, it's not like they just magically go away.

Also, the author very skilfully peels back the layers of Felton's family's past in a totally organic way. There's enough mystery and emotional tension lying just beneath the surface of the main narrative to make this book a real page turner.

Young Adult Notes:

This book, due to the awesome cover with a football player on it, will draw in boys initially. However, anyone who likes to really identify with a character will love this book. It's funny and just dark enough to really prove gripping to middle age kiddos as well as young adult. There is a little bit of language, but it's not there for shock value. I could easily put this on my special shelf for seventh graders without worrying. It's a little over their heads, but the thoughtful kids that would stay with the book at that age are capable of dealing with the subject matter. This is a book that will hook anyone right in.

Source: Thanks to The Teen {Book} Scene for organizing this blog tour and for providing a review copy of the book. You can view other stops on the tour here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Interview with Sarah Darer Littman (Want to Go Private?)


Today Sarah Darer Littman, author of WANT TO GO PRIVATE? is visiting!!! Sarah is the award-winning author of CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC, PURGE and LIFE, AFTER. In addition to writing for teens, she is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers (CT) and for the website CTNewsJunkie.com. She lives in Connecticut with her family and three exceptionally cute dogs, in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves.




WANT TO GO PRIVATE? is based on a chilling but very real premise. What prompted you write about this topic? 

“I don’t want any of you to ever to go through what I’ve gone through. Never. Ever.”

As a kid, did you ever do anything stupid/reckless that could have been seriously dangerous? 

(Note from Sarah: Am amazed I survived to adulthood…)

“I can’t believe my sister stole the last freaking Eggo waffle, then walked out of the house like it was any other day, knowing full well that she was planning to wreck our lives. How could she do this to us?”

What kind of things can teens do to protect themselves online?

“It might seem different. You might feel safer doing stuff because you’re in the safety of your own home. But you’re aren’t…Because even if they seem nice…even if they seem like they’re you best friend and they care about you and understand you better than everyone else in the whole wide world and they love you…The thing you don’t really know them at all. And the reason they’re listening to you, and being so understand isn’t because they’re real friends. It’s because they’re getting you to rely on them and trust them so they can take advantage of that trust and…hurt you.”

What kind of research did you have to do for WANT TO GO PRIVATE?

“We’ve called in the FBI on this case.”

Why do you like to write realistic fiction as opposed to something more speculative?

“I feel lower than plankton, if there is anything lower than plankton, which I can’t remember because I feel so miserable. What was the point of putting on all this facecrap and messing with my hair? It hasn’t made any difference.

What draws you to sensitive topics?

“I know she’s just doing her job, but it’s more than that. She really believes in what she’s doing.”

What advice do you wish you could’ve received as a teenager?

“Al Franken, a comedian who’s now a senator from Minnesota said: ‘Mistakes are part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from’.”

Follow Sarah:

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Ends June 30th.
 Fill out the form below to enter.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman

Synopsis:


Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.

Details:

Publication date: August 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press

The Elliott Review:

This book is one of those scarily realistic books that just grabs your attention and doesn't let go. Abby's emotional state at the beginning of school is exactly what happens to many teens. Going to high school is an experience that tests the state of friendships and is filled with the uncertainty of new relationships and changes in old ones. Abby does not deal with these changes well. She withdraws from her friends and finds solace from a friendly guy in a teen chat room.

As she gets to know Luke, she opens up to him about her feelings, and he seems to be the only one that truly understands what she's going through and who thinks she's beautiful. Even funny and smart Billy, a real-life boy, likes Abby, she still feels more connected to the stranger she meets online. As she gets more involved with him and she does some unwise thins to gain his approval, she finds herself unable to let go of her attachment and allows them to meet.

This is a very chilling read because, from the start, the reader inevitably knows or suspects what will happen to Abby. The suspense comes in not being sure to what degree she will suffer for her decisions or if she will even be rescued at all.

Young Adult Notes:

Young adults will perhaps not be immediately gripped by the cover of the book, but those who do pick it up will be hooked. Any "what if" real-life story tends to be a big hit. The fact that they will be able to identify with Abby's feelings and maybe even have some online-only friends of their own will make them feel that her situation IS their situation. I know that this book will be a big word-of-mouth sensation after it is read.

Although. overall, the content is appropriate for even young teens or middle grade students, some mature sexual content (including some descriptions) may be suitable for high school age teens only. It basically depends on the reader's knowledge and maturity level.

Source: Thanks to The Teen {Book} Scene for organizing this tour. You can view other stops on the tour here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Winner: Stupid Fast

The winner of Stupid Fast is:

Devan at Book Strings

Thanks to everyone who participated! 
Don't forget to check out my current giveaways!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Top 5 Reasons to Write Middle Grade Mystery (Michael D. Beil)

Some things you need to know about me first: In additon to writing The Red Blazer Girls mysteries, I teach high school English, and when pressed to name my favorite author, I keep coming back to Charles Dickens. So, why middle grade mystery, you may ask.  (You wouldn’t be the first.)  Why not deep, meaningful, serious, literary fiction -- the kind of books endlessly debated in coffee shops and internet forums?

Fair question.

Well, for one thing, I believe that every great book, whether it was intended for kids or adults, is, at its core, a mystery.  Will Jane and Rochester -- or Elizabeth and Darcy -- get together?  Who is Pip’s benefactor? Will Frodo destroy the Ring before it destroys him? And just what is the secret that’s eating Arthur Donnithorne alive? Those questions have kept generations of readers wondering, yet none of those books is considered a “mystery” in the modern, everything-must-fit-into-a-specific-genre sense.

But that’s not answering the question, you say.

Oh, fine, here they are.  In no particular order, my top five reasons for writing middle grade mysteries. (Full disclosure: Jessi asked for a “top ten list” but it’s the last week of classes at school and my brain is only working at half-capacity.  Hence, a top five list.) [Jessi, an English teacher herself, fully understands this...]

1.  I get to pretend to be a criminal. (Oh, like you’ve never thought about what it would be like to steal the Mona Lisa, or drive off in a Brinks truck.) Figuring out the who/what/when/where/why of the crime is one of the first, and most important steps in outlining a new book.  Thinking like a criminal is challenging, and the smarter the criminal, the more complicated the scheme.

2.     I get to pretend to be a detective.  Again, who doesn’t think they could be the next Sherlock Holmes, or Hercule Poirot, or even Encyclopedia Brown, if they had the chance? My characters, led by narrator Sophie and best friend/brainiac Margaret spend their time snooping around other people’s lives, following leads, unraveling riddles, and then, finally, basking in glory once they’ve revealed the solution.  And then they go home and do their homework.

3.    I get to be 12 again . . . but way smarter and funnier than I was the first time. I get to do all the things I wish I’d done and say all the things I wish I’d said, and not do all the . . . well, you get the picture. The fact is, there’s not enough money in the world to entice me to go through middle school a second time, but it’s fun being able to pretend for a few hours at a time, knowing that I can simply shut down my computer and return to reality whenever I’m ready.

4.     I finally found a way to put to use all those useless tidbits of knowledge and trivia that have been collecting dust in that attic I call my brain.  Decades worth.  My wife is especially grateful for this one, because now when I start off on some trivia-spewing rant, she quietly suggests,“Maybe that’s something you could put in your next book.” Indeed.


5.   I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, and any other mysteries I could get my grubby hands on, and they inspired me to write my own stories. I love the idea that someday, somewhere, some kid out there who reads my book might get the same wacky idea. A guy can dream.

Michael D. Biel, in addition to writing (The Red Blazer Girls, The Vanishing Violin, and The Mistaken Masterpiece) has taught English and drama at an all-girls Catholic high school in Manhattan since 2001 after working as a sailmaker and a lawyer. There, he wrote and produced Aftershocks, a play based on the challenges facing the immigrant families of some of his students. He currently lives in Manhattan with his  wife Laura, dogs Isabel and Maggie, and cats Cyril and Emma.

Follow Michael:

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 Sophie, Margaret, Becca, and Leigh Ann are back in an all-new Red Blazer Girls caper. In the third installment, Sophie is nose to fist with her arch-rival, Livvy, all while taking care of movie-star Nate Etan's dog, when Father Julian hires the Blazers to help him authenticate a painting. Mayhem and mystery follows as the girls attempt to uncover the truth. Oh, and, uh, Sophie's friend-who-is-not-a-boyfriend, Raf, is back. . . . Here's another charming and engaging adventure starring these four every-girl sleuths that's perfect for readers 10-up.

Open to US only.
Ends June 25th.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ARC Review: The Mistaken Masterpiece by Michael D. Beil

Synopsis:

Sophie, Margaret, Becca, and Leigh Ann are back in an all-new Red Blazer Girls caper. In the third installment, Sophie is nose to fist with her arch-rival, Livvy, all while taking care of movie-star Nate Etan's dog, when Father Julian hires the Blazers to help him authenticate a painting. Mayhem and mystery follows as the girls attempt to uncover the truth. Oh, and, uh, Sophie's friend-who-is-not-a-boyfriend, Raf, is back. . . . Here's another charming and engaging adventure starring these four every-girl sleuths that's perfect for readers 10-up.

Details:

Publication date: June 14th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

The Elliott Review:

This book is a refreshing, fun book filled with sleuthing and adventure. The young narrator, Sophie, has an authentic voice that young girls (and boys, too) would find highly readable, making them feel as though they are along for the ride as the girls begin another case, this time as a personal favor to Father Julian. 

The main case involves a forged painting and some old photographs, and the girls have to work hard (and get lucky a few times) to help Father Julian get the painting in the hands of its rightful owner. However, there are many subplots and foibles that the girls get involved in, those every day mysteries that middle school students do sometimes encounter. These subplots within this book keep it moving and keep it real. Sophie has to deal with boyfriend pressures and finding out her sworn enemy might not be as bad as she thought. She has to deal with learning how and when to say "no" and how to make the best out of a bad situation.

This book is filled with good, clean fun, giving readers just enough clues for the very sleuth-like reader to be able to guess the truth about the multiple paintings. Others (like me), who are not as observant and scientific, can discover the truth about the case right along with the girls. This definitely fills a void in middle grade literature.

Young Adult Warnings:

None

Source: Thanks to Diane of the Saima Agency for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ARC Review: Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess

Synopsis:

How can you make someone love you when they won’t?
 
And what if that person happens to be your mother?

Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of eighteen, she’s become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she’s been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand deliberate cruelties. Sayre’s stuck by her mother through hell, tried to help her, be near her, be important to her even as her mother slipped away into a violent haze of addiction, destroying the only chance Sayre ever had for a real family.

Now her mother is lying in a hospital bed, near death, ravaged by her own destructive behavior. And as Sayre fights her way to her mother’s bedside, she is terrified but determined to get the answer to a question no one should ever have to ask: Did my mother ever really love me? And what will Sayre do if the answer is yes?

Details:

Publication date: June 14th 2011 by MTV Books

The Elliott Review:

I'm starting to get more into contemporary fiction more lately, and amazing books like Ordinary Beauty are the reason why. I know that sounds weird, but when I make an investment in reading a book that's not magical or paranormal, I want to see stories being told that need to be told, grit and all even if it deals with the unpleasant aspects of our society. Ordinary Beauty is emotionally intense, at times raw, at times extraordinarily bittersweet.

Sayre's life in this book is not pretty, and it is a perfect depiction of the tough lives some kids are forced to live due to parents' bad choices and selfishness. The story takes the form of Sayre trying to reach her dying mother in the hospital on a wintry night, forced into reflection about the past and her own deepest need to feel love or to receive closure from her mother. Witness to a horrible car wreck, on the way to the hospital she is ultimately forced to open up to two complete strangers (and, thus, herself) about the hideousness of what has taken place in her life.

In the past, her mother's relationships and drug addictions and completely self- and others-destructive behavior left Sayre hurting and broken yet, due to some good influences in her life, determined to be more than her mother has been. This is a story of all the hurt and yet of hope because, even in the midst of such chaos, seeds are planted that lead to Sayre's successful attempts at breaking the cycle of her mother's destruction. I love the fact that this book doesn't moralize, despite the many opportunities to do so. Things are what they are, and we never do come to a complete sense of closure or retribution along with Sayre. Life is life, and life contains both pain and happiness, sometimes intermingled with each other.

As a teacher, this reaffirms the fact that sometimes the students I might have in my classroom are equally as broken and neglected as Sayre and reminds me that I need to at least attempt to be a force that might set them on the right path.

Young Adult Notes:

This book contains a little bit of strong language and deals with (or mentions) all the ugly stuff we don't want to think about in society - drug abuse and addiction, promiscuous sex, gruesome deaths, cheating, child abuse, and animal violence. I would say 14 and up would be an appropriate age, though many mature middle schoolers younger than that could handle it and would love it because it is so edgy and heartfelt.

Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

Synopsis:

Young Annabelle is distraught. There are so many boring, uniform hairstyles on the first day of school! With inspiration from her grandma and some help from her mom, Annabelle finds the perfect hairdo to help her stand out: a big bouffant. As the week unfolds, her gigantic hair brings giggles, admiration, and eventually... a whole classroom of copycats. This will not do. Annabelle must find a new way to be original. What will she concoct this time?


Details:

Published April 28th 2011 by Carolrhoda Books

The Elliott Review:

This fun story provides a positive message about being yourself. Annabelle finds a way to express her unique personality through her hairstyle. This determined little girl gets it in her head to have a bouffant, and she sticks with her wish despite everyone's efforts to get her to choose something more normal and run-of-the-mill. Even after she sets a new trend, she still wants to have a fresh, new wardrobe idea so that she's not just one of many. This also speaks to the importance that each child has as an individual, that they each want to feel special in some way.

The illustrations in this book are very well-done. The background scenery contains interesting textures and patterns to catch the eye, and the characters are drawn in a whimsical way that will entrance young readers. When Annabelle is creating her bouffant, there are so many fun and funny items to look point out and comment on.

Lesson Possibilities:

Birth to 4 years - Kids can be directed to explore the various colors and asked questions about the pictures. They will naturally catch the lyric, rhyming quality of the text and perhaps even quote it back later.

K-8th grade - Depending on the student's skill level, the book could be used to do a number of things. It could lead to a discussion about being yourself, accepting yourself and others, having courage to be yourself. It could be used to create a writing prompt about any of those topics, as well. Also, it could have a tie in with a how-to writing due to the fact that Annabelle creates her own hairstyle. Students could also write about a time they did something that other people didn't understand.

Source: Thanks to Tracey at Media Masters for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Bear in Pink Underwear by Todd H. Doodler

Synopsis:

The star of Bear in Underwear is back in another zany adventure, this time on the soccer field. Bear's lucky white boxers turn PINK in a laundry mishap, his teammates are embarrassed, and members of the other team tease him. Will Bear still wear his lucky underwear? Kids will love Goldman's bold illustrations, comic sensibility, and the return of their favorite bear!

Details:

Published March 4th 2011 by Blue Apple Books 

The Elliott Review:

Bear's problem in this story is one that many kids have from time to time - wearing something that is not the "cool" thing to wear, in this case - PINK! Since Bear believes his pink underwear are lucky, he wears them despite the ridicule of his teammates and the other team. He ignores their taunting and goes on to win the game.The illustrations are just ... cute! All of the characters are funny-looking in a good way. Their facial expressions are hilarious, though simply drawn. Kids will love that this book deals with underwear, a subject that will engage many young readers very quickly. This can lead parents or teachers into a discussion about self-acceptance and about not judging others by the way but on who they are.

Source: Thanks to Tracey at Media Masters for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Winner of Sliding on the Edge by C. Lee McKenzie

The winner of Sliding on the Edge is....

Lisa (Lisa's World of Books)

Congrats! And thanks to all who entered!

Feel free to check out my current giveaways.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Excerpt)



Geoff Herbach teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University - Mankato, writes novels (young adult-y at the moment), radio plays (from grubby to clean), and is working on musicals. His new young adult novel, STUPID FAST, is forthcoming from Sourcebooks Fire (June 2011) and will be followed in spring of 2012 by its sequel, THE WHOLE WARM WORLD.




Today we are featuring an excerpt STUPID FAST:

One night in early July, I came home from watching Aleah practice piano, which she let me do on occasion (I’d sit next to Ronald while he graded papers, she’d play, I’d get hit by giant waves of music, which blasted my Jew-fro down to my head…). As I biked over the hill on the main road above our house, I could see a glowing orange. I stopped and focused. It was a fire. A very large fire raging in the distance. It was obviously on our property. Oh crap. Oh no.


It had to be Jerri. Jerri burning. That’s all I could think. I pictured Jerri in her yoga clothes, soaking herself with gas like I’d seen an Indian monk do on TV. (Om shanti shanti shanti, she says.) I pictured her lighting herself up. (Good bye, boys…) Oh God.


I took off on my Schwinn, jackrabbit, towards the house. By the time I got to the end of our drive, I could see the huge fire was at least contained in our fire pit, which meant the house itself wasn’t burning, which was a relief. Still, the fire was too big, roaring, lighting the side of the house and the yard around it. It actually made a roaring sound like a windstorm.


Also lit by the fire was my little brother Andrew. He stood there in his glasses and his tighty-whitey underpants reflecting orange in the flame. He had no clothes on otherwise. He looked so skinny, bony. He poked a long stick, more like a tree branch, into the flames. I dropped my Schwinn and ran up to him.


“What the hell are you doing?”


“Getting rid of my baby clothes and other artifacts of my past.”


In the fire, I could see the collars of the dorky polo shirts Andrew always wore. I could see pairs of his little jeans burning. I could see all his striped socks and his Mozart sweater and also a picture he’d drawn in art class last year that Jerri really liked. There were other papers burning, too. “Jesus Christ, Andrew, you’re crazy! Is that all your clothes?”


“Definitely,” he said, stirring the fire from ten feet away.


“I’m telling Jerri.”


“Mother knows.”


“Jesus!”


I ran into the garage and into our dark house, not a light on, up the stairs into the hall and to Jerri’s room. She half-reclined, covered up in the bed, no light except from the TV (my TV) in front of her. She was half asleep.


“Jerri! Andrew’s gone crazy.”


“No,” she mumbled. Then she tried to look around me to the TV, which was playing some kind of crime drama.


“Uh, yes. He’s out there naked burning his clothes, Jerri.”


“I know.”


“You going to let him be naked? Is he going to school naked in the fall?”


“He bought new clothes today. Could you move a little to your right, Felton?”


“He’s not wearing them!”


“I’m trying to watch TV,” Jerri yawned.


“You’re crazy!”


“Get out of here, Felton,” she said, not mean, not angry. She was totally mumbling.


I turned and stomped out of the room and back down to the basement. Andrew was coming in from the garage. He had no hair on his head (to match his clothes-less body). Of course, I already knew about his hair. A couple of days earlier he’d shaved it all off.


“I’m getting a hot dog to cook,” Andrew said, which would’ve been a funny thing to say if I thought he was funny. “Do you want one?” he asked without laughing.


“Where’d you get hot dogs?” That’s all I could come up with.


“I bought them.”


“When?”


“After I stole Jerri’s wallet and walked to the thrift store to buy some pants and a shirt, I went grocery shopping at Kwik Trip. The hot dogs will be quite good cooked on the fire,” Andrew said, again without laughing.


“They’ll taste like the bugs in your clothes.”


“Duh, Felton. Fire burns all the germs away.”


“I was making a joke.”


“Yes. I know,” Andrew stared at me.


I stared back then said, “I’m going to bed.”


I heard Andrew banging around for another couple of hours before I actually fell asleep. To relax, I tried to imagine Aleah still playing the piano, her dad still on the couch reading poetry essays. But, I didn’t sleep until the house was silent.

Follow Geoff:

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Ends June 14th.

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