I Was A Non-blonde Cheerleader by Kieran ScottI Was A Non-blonde Cheerleader by Kieran Scott

I Was A Non-blonde Cheerleader

byKieran Scott

Paperback | September 6, 2007

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New Jersey transplant and sassy brunette Annisa Gobrowski has a problem-literally everyone at her Florida high school is blonde. No lack of golden highlights is going to stop Annisa from making the cheerleading squad. But after accidentally breaking the most popular girl in school's nose, and discovering the cheerleaders all hate her, she starts having second thoughts. Is it too much to ask to land a spot on the team, win the heart of her dreamy crush and make tons of new friends? Annisa is on the verge of giving up, but the cheerleader in her just won't let her quit. She may be a little different, but Sand Dune High had better watch out-this non-blonde is here to stay in this hilariously funny novel from Private author Kieran Scott.
Kieran Scott is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader, A Non-Blonde Cheerleader in Love, Brunettes Strike Back, and Geek Magnet. She lives with her husband and their son in New Jersey. Visit her online at www.kieranscott.net.
Title:I Was A Non-blonde CheerleaderFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.3 × 5.6 × 0.7 inPublished:September 6, 2007Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142409103

ISBN - 13:9780142409107

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 4 out of 5 by from GO CRABS GO! Well, this book was mainly about cheerleading and everything that it takes to make a great team. Main charcater, Annisa Gobrowski is starting at a new school for the first time in years and her life in her new school just took a dive for the worst! As she deals with the pain of leaving her friends and the confusion of a first love (or something like that), Annisa also has to build back her rep? Bu how exactly? After joining the cheerleading squad at her school, she thinks that maybe she'll get some respect around school but it seems like everything is as out of control as ever. But after a prank war, a party, and a whole lot of drama, will Annisa's life finally be peaceful again? This book is about pulling together for the cause and putting aside your feelings to work together. It's about friendship and teamwork more than anything. If you like cheerleading or books about it then you should definitely read this book. Or if you're having a hard time fitting in at a new school. It's an awesome book and it's sure to make you smile (eventually).
Date published: 2012-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ABSOLUTELY GREAT!!!!!!!!! I HIGHLY recommend this book!!! You won't want to put it down!
Date published: 2008-01-14

Read from the Book

I took a deep breath, smoothed my hair down, and opened the door to the classroom. The second I did, the bell pealed out so loudly, it could have been inside my brain. I froze, startled, and every single person in the room turned to look at me. I instantly knew that I had made two drastic mistakes.First, I had not conformed to local fashion codes, which apparently called for the wearing of much color and little cloth. I had never seen so many belly buttons in one place at one time in all my life. And I’d spent plenty of summer days at the Jersey Shore, thank you very much.Second, I was not blonde. How had I not noticed it before? Every last female in the room was blonde. There were natural blondes and peroxide blondes, highlighted blondes and frosted blondes. Golden blondes, white blondes, ash blondes. Blondes with brown eyebrows and blondes with olive skin. There was even an Asian girl in the front row with her short blonde hair pulled back in two neat ponytails.My gaze darted around the room from blonde to blonde to blonde to blonde. A Britney-clone looked at me and snickered.“Nice clip,” she mouthed, glancing toward my forehead. Her friend laughed into her hand. Suddenly my rhinestone barrette felt hard and cold and jagged against my scalp.It was official. I was in hell. And John Frieda was the devil.OTHER SPEAK BOOKSI Was aNon-BlondeCheerleaderKIERAN SCOTTSpecial thanks to Raina Wallens and Lisa Papademetriou for their help and faith in the early stages of this project and their unwavering support throughout.To Cecily von Ziegesar for introducing me to Sarah Burnes and to Sarah for believing in this book and making it all happen.Thanks most of all to Jennifer Bonnell for being there every step of the way and making the whole experience so much fun.I would also like to thank Matt Viola, Lee Scott, Erin Scott and Ian Scott for always believing.Table of ContentsFirst day of school.First.Day.Of.School.Hadn’t I already had one of these in September? What kind of sadistic star had I been born under that I got to have two? Two versions of the most stress-inducing day of the year?I stood outside the back door of Sand Dune High and wondered what, exactly, I was doing here. This was Florida. I was a Jersey girl. I’d only been here five days and already the top of my nose was starting to peel, and that was with daily applications of SPF 15. It was so warm out at 8:00 A.M. that I had already managed to sweat through my black T-shirt on the short walk to school. And according to the huge banner that was hung across the bleachers by the football field, the school mascot was a Mighty Fighting Crab. I mean, come on! The Crabs? I had already made up about ten STD jokes to keep on reserve for parties and lagging conversations.Okay, be positive, Annisa. It’s not like you haven’t done this before, I told myself.My family had moved around the Northeast all my life as my dad, Professor Gobrowski to his colleagues, tried on English department after English department. I had started at plenty of new schools. This was nothing new.Okay, well, maybe it was a little new. After all, the last move had been almost four years ago, allowing me ample time to settle in and make friends that I now missed with an ache previously unknown to my body. And I was used to brick buildings, changing leaves, slush and rain and angry bus drivers. This school was very . . . Florida, with its whitewashed stucco walls, Spanish-tiled roof and palm tree-lined walks. But it was just a school, right? There were teachers and students and books in there. How different could it be?I reached up to touch my signature fashion item—the rhinestone clip that always held back my short brown hair. It acted as a kind of pacifier in moments like these. A reminder that wherever I went, I was still me.I took a deep breath. “Here goes nothing.”The noise inside hit me like a sharp wind. People darted across the hallway, a couple of guys slapped hands while a few girls bent over an open magazine. Everyone unfamiliar. Everyone nameless. How was I going to do this?Okay, the first step is always the hardest, I told myself. So I took it. I stepped over the threshold into my new school . . . and my toe caught the lip of the step. My heart shot into my throat. I flew forward. The floor rushed up at me. And all I could think was, Sand Dune High, here I come!This was going to hurt. I knew from experience.But before I could hit the ground, a pair of strong hands grabbed my arm and I was saved from utter humiliation. A few people still snickered around me, but it was so much better than it could have been. I looked up to thank my savior and my throat totally dried up. Maybe it was just the effects of hero worship, but the phrase humuna, humuna, humuna comes to mind.“Are you okay?” my knight in faded Abercrombie asked, releasing me.I smoothed down the front of my T-shirt and tried not to look anyone directly in the eye. My face was burning red. “Bones intact, ego slightly bruised,” I said.“I’ll have that step removed by the end of the day,” he joked.“Thanks. You can do that?”“I have powers beyond your understanding,” he replied, a mischievous glint in his bluer-than-blue eyes. “I’m Daniel Healy, by the way.”Daniel Healy was yum. He was taller than me, but not too tall. Actually, the exact perfect height for slow dancing kind of tall. He had light brown hair with obviously natural blond highlights that matched the sun-bleached wisps on his tanned arms and legs. He was wearing long denim shorts, a faded, red, short-sleeved button-down with the first few buttons open, and a single shell on a black cord around his neck. And his smile? Whoa mama.A few lines formed above Daniel Healy’s perfectly shaped nose. He looked a little bit disturbed. Unfortunately, I get that a lot. “And you are . . . ?” he asked.Nice one, Gobrowski, I said to myself. I gave him my best self-deprecating, doofy-me laugh. “Annisa Gobrowski,” I said. “Don’t call me Annie or I can’t be responsible for my actions.”My stomach dropped when I saw his shocked face. Misfire. Back home that usually got a laugh. Did people in Florida have trouble catching witty sarcasm? If so, I was in big trouble.“I’ll remember that,” he said. “You new? Come on, I’ll show you where the office is.”Somehow I made myself move down the unfamiliar hall with its unfamiliar smells and its unfamiliar faces. People watched me curiously, like I was some new, unclassified species. I was so nervous, I was sure my knees were going to go out any second.All around me students lined the hallway, digging in their lockers, checking their hair in compact mirrors, passing a soccer ball back and forth across the floor. Everything seemed to blur together. Would any of these people end up being my friend? Did I have anything in common with any of them? What if this school was too cliquey and no one wanted someone new to, you know, clique with?“So, where did you come from, anyway?” I asked Daniel as we rounded a corner. I needed conversation to distract me from my insecure thoughts.“I thought I was supposed to ask you that,” he said. “Aren’t you the new girl?”I laughed. “No, I mean, just now. When you saved me from a splat worse than death.”“Oh, I followed you to school,” Daniel said, causing my heart to thump. “I’m not a stalker or anything. I just live down the block from you. We should walk together sometime.”Smiling on the outside, I tried to remember if I’d done anything super embarrassing on the walk to school, like pick a wedgie or talk to myself. Oh, God! I had tried to three-pointer my banana peel into a garbage can by the bleachers and missed by a mile. Had he seen that?“So where did you move here from?” Daniel asked.“New Jersey.”“Really? Did you ever see anyone from The Sopranos?”Such a boy thing to ask.“No. And there were no attempted whackings at my old school either,” I told him.Daniel laughed. “Well, this is it,” he said, stopping in front of a glass door marked MAIN OFFICE. “Good luck, Annisa-not-Annie.”I grinned. “Thank you so much,” I said, sounding a lot more breathless than usual.“Hey, I know I wouldn’t want to walk the halls of a new school alone,” he said with a sympathetic grin. “Or, you know, trip through them.”“Ha ha.”Daniel started to back his way down the hall, somehow not stumbling over the skateboards, books and hundreds of feet in his path, all of which would have definitely sent me sprawling.“See you later!” he added, giving me a wave.I hope so, I thought with a smile. Maybe this new school thing wouldn’t be so bad.“Excellent record, Ms. Gobrowski, just excellent. Excellent, excellent, excellent.”I sat in the vinyl chair to the left of my new guidance counselor’s desk, my hands clasped tightly in my lap. He held the manila folder containing my permanent file up in front of his round face, shaking his head, but in a good way—like he was awed by my many B-plusses and occasional A’s. When he lowered the file to his lap, he grinned, his rosy red cheeks growing even rosier. He reminded me of an inflated Christmas elf or one of those lawn gnomes my grandmother has all over her yard in Chicago.“Just excellent,” he said again, his eyes twinkling.Ever hear a word so many times it starts to lose all meaning?“Uh . . . thanks, Mr. . . .”I trailed off, mortified. Already I couldn’t remember his name. “In-one-ear-out-the-other” should really be my nickname. That or “Miss Trips-a-Lot.”“Cuccinello,” he said with a laugh. “Not to worry—it’s a tough one.”“Cuccinello,” I repeated, wondering when he was going to let me go to class. The first day was always the toughest, and I wanted to get it over with. Besides, if he kept me here much longer, I was going to be late for homeroom, which meant no slipping in with the rest of the crowd, which meant big attention on me, which meant—“So, I bet you’re a little nervous, huh?” Mr. Cuccinello said, tapping the edge of my file against the corner of his desk.“Me? Nah.”“Brave girl! I like it!” Mr. Cuccinello barked. As he said the words, he sat up straight for a split second, like a firecracker going off, then settled back down again. He slipped a thin piece of paper off his desk and handed it to me. “Now, here’s your schedule. You requested a music elective, so we’ve put you in concert choir. Are you a singer?”“Um . . . yeah. An alto,” I said.“Great! Now, if any of your classes are too fast or too slow, or if you just plain don’t like ’em, let me know. I’m here for you, Ms. Gobrowski, remember that. Here . . . for . . . you!” he said, enunciating each word with a jab of his finger in my direction.I looked down at the unfamiliar schedule in my hand. It ran vertically down the page instead of horizontally like the ones back home. Plus, it was peppered with strange room numbers and abbreviations. I felt a lump form in my throat. I just wanted one thing to feel the same. Anything.“You’re gonna do just great here, I can feel it,” Mr. Cuccinello continued. “I get a good vibe from you, Ms. Gobrowski, a good vibe. You are going to fit right in like a square peg in a square hole.” He made a popping sound with his tongue and raised his bushy eyebrows. “Now get on out there and knock ’em dead!”“Thanks, Mr. C,” I said, the nickname slipping out.“Mr. C! I like it!” he called after me. “Get a move on! The bell’s gonna ring soon!”Great. Like I needed more pressure. The halls were almost deserted and the couple of people who were there were running. Never a good sign. According to my schedule, I was assigned to room 214. Ms. Walters’ classroom. I made a right, vaguely remembering that Daniel and I had passed a stairwell. I figured 214 had to be upstairs, yes? It was a start.As I scurried up to the second floor, the sweat returned and I had to hike up my long denim skirt so that my ankles could make the climb. Mental note: Factor Florida temperature and abundance of school stairs into all future wardrobe choices. By the time I got upstairs, I was in panic mode. When would the bell ring? Was it going to ring now? No. Now? No. I felt like I was stuck in a life-size game of Mouse Trap.I glanced left and mercifully saw room 215 at the end of the hall. I figured 214 had to be nearby . . . except it wasn’t. The room numbers only went up. And when I turned a corner, I was faced with rooms 200A, 200B and 201. What was this, some kind of sick joke? It was like the set designer from the Harry Potter movies had taken some time off to build my new school. I hustled down the hallway, the numbers flying by. All the classrooms were full of students, doors closed, conversation muffled. I had yet to see a soul in the second-floor hall. I was completely and totally late.Around yet another corner I finally found room 214. Phew. I took a deep breath, smoothed my hair down, and opened the door to the classroom. The second I did, the bell pealed out so loudly, it could have been inside my brain. I froze, startled, and every single person in the room turned to look at me. I instantly knew that I had made two drastic mistakes.First, I had not conformed to local fashion codes, which apparently called for the wearing of much color and little cloth. I had never seen so many belly buttons in one place at one time in all my life. And I’d spent plenty of summer days at the Jersey Shore, thank you very much.Second, I was not blonde. How had I not noticed it before? Every last female in the room was blonde. There were natural blondes and peroxide blondes, highlighted blondes and frosted blondes. Golden blondes, white blondes, ash blondes. Blondes with brown eyebrows and blondes with olive skin. There was even an Asian girl in the front row with her short blonde hair pulled back in two neat ponytails.I was a very new, very real, clearly distasteful minority.I couldn’t move. The teacher, a rather overweight woman with a horrid paisley dress and yes, a mannish blonde do, didn’t even come to my rescue. I had just walked into the Barbie Dream School and I was that brunette reject doll that always got left on the shelf at Toys R Us until she got marked down fifteen times and eventually sold off for ninety-nine cents.“Well, I’ll be damned,” a voice said, right behind me. “There is a God.”I felt like I was going to be sick. I moved out of the doorway and was faced with a seriously tall girl with purple hair, black eyeliner and multiple piercings—ear and nose. She was looking down at me like I was her exact version of Mr. Wonderful come to whisk her away to an exotic desert island.“Hi,” I said.“You are so sitting with me,” she replied.She grabbed my hand—hers was covered in a fishnet glove with the fingertips sliced off—and pulled me toward the back of the classroom.“Shouldn’t I—,” I began, looking over my shoulder at the teacher.“She doesn’t care who you are,” the girl told me. She fell into a seat with a cacophony of clangs and clanks from her various zippers and accessories. Then she practically flung me into the desk next to hers. “I, on the other hand, do,” she added. Her brown eyes glistened with interest as she held out her hand again. “I’m Bethany.”“Annisa,” I told her, shaking her hand. I glanced around the room and a few of my spectators rolled their eyes and looked away. Suddenly, Ms. Walters came to life and clapped her hands, telling everyone to take their seats—the morning announcements were about to start.“You can see me after homeroom, Miss . . .?” the teacher said, lifting her chin to see me over the crowd of shifting students.“Gobrowski,” I said. “Annisa Gobrowski.”A Britney double in a red bandanna-print halter top a few rows ahead of me snorted and leaned over to whisper something to her friend. They both laughed and cast a disdainful look in my direction before facing the front of the room.I swallowed hard and tried to smile at Bethany. At least she was being a human.“You have so made my year,” Bethany told me as the overhead speaker crackled to life. “I have been praying for another brunette around here since birth.”Someone on the PA said something about the Pledge of Allegiance and everyone stood up. My knees were practically knocking together, but I made it out of my chair.“Come on. There has to be another brunette in this school somewhere,” I whispered, scoffing. I pressed my wet palms into my denim skirt and wondered if that slightly offensive smell was coming from my own armpits.“Not one that will admit to it,” Bethany answered, looking at my hair out of the corner of her eye. “This is all kinds of cool.”The more she looked at me with that stunned, almost loving expression, the more tense I became. My gaze darted around the room from blonde to blonde to blonde to blonde. The Britney-clone looked at me again and snickered.“Nice clip,” she mouthed, glancing toward my forehead. Her friend laughed into her hand. Suddenly my rhinestone barrette felt hard and cold and jagged against my scalp.It was official. I was in hell. And John Frieda was the devil.The best piece of advice my older brother, Gabe, ever gave me was this: When starting a new school, never, ever, under any circumstances, show up to lunch early. Always be late. Hide in the bathroom, get lost in the basement, stay after class to discuss politics with your hair-in-the-ears history teacher if you have to, but get to the cafeteria late or you’re doomed.“Why?” I asked him—naïve fifth grader that I was when he imparted this wisdom.“Because, loser, if you sit down at an empty table, it will inevitably turn out to be the regular table of the most popular, most evil, most willing to embarrass the hell out of you crowd in the entire school and they will punish you. They will punish you dead.”He said it with such seriousness, I almost peed in my Old Navy undies.So, like a good new girl, I arrived at the Sand Dune High cafeteria after everyone was seated with their lunches. To be honest, it wasn’t entirely my doing. Ms. Trager had kept me after in choir to listen to me do scales, apparently to decide whether I was a good enough singer to keep around. Finally she’d given me a curt nod and a “very nice.” At least it looked like I wouldn’t have to go shopping for a new elective.Most of the tables were outside in the courtyard at the center of the school, and I had entered from the front hallway, which meant I had to walk by a sea of gabbing blonde heads to get to the line where they actually served the food. I kept my eyes trained directly in front of me and tried not to pay attention to my pounding heart. I swear everyone was staring at my head. I may as well have been wearing one of those Viking hats with the big horns that some doof is always sporting at frat parties in the movies. (Where do they get those things?)Okay, you can do this, I told myself when I emerged from the lunch line a few minutes later, a rather scary mound of mangled pasta on my plate. All the kids at the first few tables were watching me, and the Britney-clone from that morning leaned over to whisper to a friend next to her—aka Britney Two. Oh, God, please let Bethany be here.“Annisa!”Bethany stood up from a table at the far side of the courtyard. I forced myself to smile and hauled ass over to her table as quickly as my shortish legs would carry me. In that sea of tan skin, colorful clothing and blonde hair, Bethany looked like home to me. An island of dark-clothed, pale-complexioned normalcy.“So, do you want to write an article for my website, sucks-to-be-us-dot-com? I think you would be totally perfect for it.” Bethany jumped right in.“Sucks-to-be-us-dot-com?” I asked, shaking my Snapple. I felt so much less conspicuous now that I was sitting down like everyone else.“It’s a site for teenage girls that basically gives us a chance to vent about, you know, everything that sucks in our lives,” Bethany said, her nose piercing twinkling in the sun. “Everything from guys to parents to SATs to the current trends in misogynistic clothing and the fact that there’s nothing good on TV anymore. I like to think it keeps people from expressing their emotions in more damaging ways.”“Like suicide or liposuction,” I put in.Bethany’s face lit up. “Exactly,” she said, jabbing her plastic fork in my direction. “I knew I liked you.”“Sounds cool. So, you can write about anything?”“Anything goes,” Bethany said, digging into her pasta. “Except I never allow anyone to post anything that tears down another girl. I read everything over personally.”“Huh. That’s good,” I said. “But what would I have to write about?” I took a bite of my spaghetti and dropped my fork. “I’m sure cafeteria food has been covered.”“What would you have to write about?” Bethany asked, incredulous. “How about the fact that you just got plunked down in the center of spirit central? I mean, trust me, you are about to witness the most sorry display of all-American cheese in the history of mankind. This was the absolute worst time for you to move here.”I had to give it to Bethany—she wasn’t trying to sugarcoat things for the new girl. She was starting to remind me of Jordan, my best friend from back home. “Tell it like it is” is her personal mantra. I missed Jordan the instant I thought of her, and struggled to focus on the conversation.“What do you mean?” I asked, gnawing on a plain roll.“The big rivalry game is coming up. We’re talking pep rallies, face painting, spontaneous psychotic cheering.” Bethany’s face grew more disgusted as she spoke. “I so wish I’d gone to school here in the nineties. At least back then there was a prank war. That was all kinds of cool. I may have even participated.”“A prank war?”“Yeah, you know, West Wind High would chalk their school colors on our gym, then we’d kidnap their mascot, then they would shaving-cream our football team’s cars,” Bethany said. “I heard that one time our guys filled the cheerleading captain’s car with rotting apples,” she added, her eyes glittering. She sighed, looking off into the sky dreamily. “Those were the days.”“So what happened?”“Oh, some guy fell off the auditorium roof and broke both his arms,” Bethany said, snapping back to the present. “Doesn’t it suck when one person has to spoil everyone else’s fun?”“Totally,” I deadpanned. I was starting to like this girl. At least I knew she’d get my sense of humor.“Are you gonna eat this?” she asked, pulling my spaghetti surprise toward her.“Go crazy,” I said. If her stomach could handle it, more power to her.“So anyway, this whole spirit thing is even worse this year because the cheerleaders have some competition coming up and they’re running around here like a bunch of beagle puppies on speed,” Bethany explained. “I swear those rah-rahs are getting on my last nerve. They have the collective IQ of a fruit fly.”My stomach turned. Clearly Bethany was one of those anti-cheerleader people. The ones who thought it was lame and not a sport and that every girl who did it was a ditz with a hairspray dependency. Normally I would have defended them, but considering that Bethany was the only person who had talked to me for more than five minutes all day, I decided to withhold the knowledge that I was one such rah-rah. (With an impressive IQ, thank you very much.) At least I had been at my old school.I wondered if the squad had replaced me yet. I imagined them at practice without me, laughing, debating new stunts, going over the moves in the halftime dance for the hundredth time. I could practically smell the half-sweaty, half-antiseptic scent of the wrestling gym where we worked out. Okay. Now I was getting depressed.“I thought you were anti-tearing-other-girls-down,” I said.“That’s on the site. If I tried to do it on a daily basis, I’d have permanent tongue crampage,” Bethany replied. “So, what’s your schedule for the rest of the day?”I sighed and pulled my neatly folded schedule out of my bag. We had been in chemistry and Spanish together that morning and I was hoping I would luck out and have someone to hang with that afternoon too.“I’ve got geometry, honors English and then gym.”“Looks like you’re on your own,” Bethany said as she finished off my lunch. “Just don’t let the blondies get you down.”I laughed nervously. “Is there really not a single other brunette in this school?”It wasn’t possible, was it?Bethany leveled me with a dead-on stare. “Honey, even the mice in the bio lab are blonde.”My geometry teacher, Mr. Loreng, turned out to be a spitter. Yes, a spitter. Everyone has had at least one in their lives and it’s never pretty. On every s and th he let out a spray of saliva the trajectory of which must be studied by the Guinness Book of World Records. And sp? Forget about it. This was the reason, of course, that the only empty seats in the room were in the front row. I had failed to notice the trend, however, and had taken a desk front and center, deciding to put myself out there, be daring, show everyone that I wasn’t afraid to be seen.I was rewarded with a refreshing afternoon shower.And the worst of it was, he seemed to know what he was doing and to enjoy it. I mean, what other possible explanation could there be for the fact that he called everybody “sport”?“David, be a sport and open the back window.” (I took a blob on the cheek.)“Hey, Sport, what did you get for number ten?” (Something landed on top of my head.)“Well, Sporto, if you haven’t grasped the concept of circumference yet, I can’t help you.” (Forehead, cheek again and yes, right in the eye.)To make the whole thing even more humiliating, it turned out that the Sand Dune High sophomores were four chapters ahead of my geometry class back home. I had a total grasp of squares and triangles, but Mr. Loreng was raving on about circles and spheres and he may as well have been speaking in Japanese. I was going to have to study my butt off to catch up, and geometry had never been my best subject in the first place.I was just trying to figure out a schedule for teaching myself the missed chapters when, out of nowhere, Mr. Loreng shouted my name.“Miss Gobrowski!”It was like a light spring rain.“Yes?” I said, fighting back cardiac arrest.“Is that gum you’re munching on, or do you fancy yourself a cow?”Omigod, he did not just call me a cow on my first day of school in front of everyone. He was evil. My geometry teacher was pure evil. There was a round of twittering behind me. And did I mention that both the Britney-clone and Daniel Healy were in my class? I thought I was going to dissolve into a pool of Annisa goo on the floor.“No . . . it’s gum,” I said.“Well, we don’t allow gum chewing in this class,” he told me. “Kindly spit it out into your hand.”Shaking, I lifted my hand to my mouth and dropped the wad of grape Bubble Yum into my palm. The girl diagonally behind me let out a disgusted groan.“Now please come up here and deposit your gum in the garbage can.”How about I dump you in there right on your squirrelly little head? I thought.I stood up slowly, glaring at the teacher, and tried to do what he said with as much dignity as possible—which was difficult, considering the badly stifled laughter that followed me. The gum wad hit the bottom of the pail with a nice, resounding thud. I had never been so embarrassed in my life. Or at least in the last hour or so.Mr. Loreng smiled condescendingly as I returned to my seat. “Thank you, Sport.” Spittle, spittle. And they wonder why kids today don’t like math.In English class I decided to be as invisible as possible. I took a nice, innocuous seat right in the middle of the room behind some guy who was so tall, he had to be the center of the basketball team. With any luck, no one would notice I was there.The class was reading Romeo and Juliet, which we had covered in English last year. Sweet relief! Something I knew! As two students read through the classic balcony scene, my eyes flicked to the clock. My first day was almost over. Of course, I could only imagine the shiny new brands of torture they had devised for me in gym.When the readers got to the point where Juliet starts talking about a rose by any other name smelling as sweet, Mrs. O’Donaghue stopped them.“Now, what does Juliet mean by this? What is she trying to say?” the teacher asked the class.Total silence. Five minutes to go, then gym, then I was outta here.“Come on, people. What does Juliet mean when she says ‘’Tis but thy name that is my enemy’?” Mrs. O’Donaghue was starting to grow frustrated. “I know you know this.”Students around me shifted in their seats and stared down at their books, avoiding eye contact. The teacher was clearly exasperated.Someone answer and put her out of her misery, I thought.“Anyone?”Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I raised my hand.“Yes? Annisa?”“Well, she’s saying that she loves Romeo for who he is and she would love him no matter what his name was. But she’s required to hate him because his last name is Montague—because the Capulets and the Montagues have been feuding for so long,” I explained. “Basically she doesn’t care about their feud, but she knows it’s going to cause problems between her and Romeo.”Mrs. O’Donaghue smiled. “You’ve read this play before.”“Yeah.”“Well, class. Annisa has made some very astute observations,” Mrs. O’Donaghue said, walking behind her desk. “I’d love it if some of you would take your cues from her and participate. I think it would make our time together a lot easier on all of us.”Suddenly I realized that everyone in the class was glaring at me.Gulp.I’d just broken another of Gabe’s rules: Never show up an entire class on your first day.The bell rang and I was out of my seat like a shot. I was blocked by a little crowd of girls near the door, one of whom was the Britney double. Up close I noticed she had the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a human being. In a normal time and place I would have asked what mascara she used, but right then I just wanted to escape. I turned sideways to try to squeeze by them, and as I did, the Britney-clone looked me up and down.“Her nose is even browner than her hair,” she said under her breath.All her friends cracked up laughing, except one—a tall, athletic girl who looked very uncomfortable. I’d never seen so many bared non-bellies convulsing at the same time. My face burning, I ducked out of the room and tried to get lost in the crowded hall. Fat chance. I stuck out like a sore brunette thumb. I needed to invest in a wig, STAT.“Annisa! Um . . . Annisa!?”I slowed my pace and turned around. The one non-laugher was speed-walking to catch up with me. She had naturally wavy blonde hair that hung past her shoulders and was one of those people who was so beautiful, she didn’t need products of any kind.“Hey . . . I’m Mindy,” she said with a tentative smile. She hugged her notebooks close to her chest. “I just wanted to say, don’t pay any attention to Sage. She’s just . . . like that.”As if that was any excuse. And the Britney-clone’s name was Sage? I’m sorry, but she seemed anything but. I mean, “browner”? That’s not even a word. Still, I sensed that Mindy was genuinely sorry, which was nice. Of all the blonde females I’d encountered, so far Mindy was the only human. Except Mrs. O’Donaghue. But hers was a dye job—I could tell.“Thanks. That’s good to know, I guess,” I said.“So . . . where’re you from?” Mindy asked. She fell into step with me as I crossed the short distance to my locker. I was surprised. Apologizing was one thing. Risking being spotted talking to the brunette suck-up with the gum addiction was another. Sage was clearly a clique leader and Mindy was clearly risking her wrath by chatting with me.I liked her instantly.“New Jersey,” I said, twirling my lock. I did the combination, but when I yanked on the door, nothing happened. Then it hit me that I had dialed in the numbers from my locker back home. My eyes suddenly burned with nostalgic tears.“Do you miss it?” Mindy asked.“Me? Nah!” I replied.“I’ve lived here my entire life. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to move and start a new school,” Mindy said. “I’d probably die of nervousness.”“Come on. It’s not that scary,” I replied.Just then the crowd in the hallway parted as two older girls strode right down the center of the corridor. I could see why everyone was scurrying out of their way. They were both perfectly put together in the way popular kids always are, and they both looked pissed. Popularity and pissiness? Never a good combination.“You’re that new girl—Annie something, right?” one of them said, stopping right in front of me. She had short blonde hair and was runway-caliber gorgeous.Somehow I found my voice in all the surprise. “Annisa, actually.”“So your dad’s the cheapskate home-wrecker, then,” the other girl snapped. Her blonde hair was of the darker, longer, stick-straight variety, and her small, round face was growing redder and redder.“Um . . . not that I know of,” I replied.Everyone was stopping to stare now. Mindy took an instinctive step away from me. Couldn’t blame her. Who wanted to stand next to the new girl while she was verbally assaulted? Any stray insults might ricochet off me and stick to her.“Well, he is,” the girl said. “And I’m just here to warn you that if you want to have any kind of a life at this school, you’d better stay as far away from me as possible.”She started to walk off and I almost let out a relieved sigh, but then she whirled around again and the air got all caught up in my throat.“Which room did you take, anyway?” she blurted.I looked at the unfamiliar faces around me, but there was no one there that could help. Or that would. They were looking at me as if I’d just shelled the Sand Dune High Fighting Crab with my own two hands.“The pink one?” I said. Not that it would be pink much longer if I had anything to say about it. Pepto-Bismol is not my color.The girl burst into tears and her friend led her away, looking back to shoot me an admonishing glance. As if I’d done anything wrong. I was just standing there, wasn’t I? I glanced at Mindy. She looked like she’d just stepped off an out-of-control Tilt-a-Whirl.“What?” I said.“Um . . . that was Phoebe Cook. I’m guessing you must’ve moved into her old house,” Mindy explained. “Her and the other girl? Whitney Barnard? They’re seniors and let’s just say you don’t want them as enemies.”Great. This day just kept getting better. “Okay, but it’s not my fault that I moved into her old house.”“Oh! I know! It’s just . . . there was this whole, like, scandal,” Mindy said, leaning back into the lockers. “Phoebe’s family was basically booted out of their house by, like, the IRS or something, and no one knows why, but she had to move in with her aunt and it’s supposedly really awful over there and . . . well . . .”Mindy trailed off and I looked down the hall in the direction Phoebe had disappeared. Seconds ago she was scary, but now my heart went out to her. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be forced from my home in such a humiliating fashion. What had happened to her family? Unemployment? Tax fraud? Insider trading? No wonder Dad had gotten such a sweet deal on our little bungalow.“Well, I have to get to class,” Mindy said, backing away from me. “I’ll see ya.”“Yeah. See ya.”Now I felt noticeably alone again. I yanked my gym bag out, slammed my locker door and turned around to find Daniel Healy walking down the hall with a group of kids. Yay! A friendly face! I started to smile at him, but then some kid with a big ‘fro moved out of the way and I saw that Daniel had his arm around—gulp—Sage.Ew! They were dating?Daniel grinned and lifted his hand from Sage’s shoulder. “Hey, Jersey!”A nickname! My mood was swinging so fast it was gonna give me whiplash.“Hey!” I replied.Sage shot me a withering look of death. “You know her?” she hissed at Daniel. A few of her girlfriends snickered. That was it. I was bathroom bound.I jogged back down to the English hallway and yanked open the heavy wooden door. Luckily the room was deserted, so I had a couple of minutes to collect myself. I even checked under the stall doors—no feet.“Okay, just chill,” I told myself quietly. “It’s just the first day and it’s almost over.”Suddenly, the stall door directly behind me slammed open and Bethany unfolded her legs. She had been sitting on top of the toilet seat, fully clothed. Doing what, I have no idea.“Do you always talk to yourself?” she asked with a smirk.“Only when my life is flashing before my eyes.”The bell rang and my heart jumped. The gym was clear on the other side of the school. I was going to be so late! I grabbed my gym bag and raced for the door. My hands full, I used the side of my body to shove it open, but it hit something. Hard.What the—Suddenly the hall was filled with an inhuman screech that probably had seagulls everywhere winging it home. Everything happened at once. Bethany carefully pushed open the door and gasped. Hunched over in the hallway was a bawling girl, her hands held over her nose, blood gushing out between her fingers. I was going to hurl.“You biiiiidge!” she shouted. “You boke by dose!”“Omigod.” That was pretty much all my brain could produce at that moment.The girl took off at a run and I looked at Bethany, who was now laughing so hard, she was actually doubled over, holding on to the metal garbage can for support.“What? What is so funny!?” I asked, my voice sounding shrill.“You . . . are . . . the best,” she said between gasps.“What? Why?”

Editorial Reviews

ScottÆs funny, fast-paced narrative will leave readers smiling. (School Library Journal)