Two years ago, when Eliza Sellman was in ninth grade, her dad found out he was being transfered and the family was going to move. Having always been shy and not so confident about her body, Eliza took that opportunity to start a list in her private notebook of all the things she planned on doing when she moved but had always been afraid to--like wearing a miniskirt and asking guys to dance; singing karaoke in front of strangers; posting a photo of herself on her Facebook wall in a bikini...you get the idea. New town, new Eliza, right? Well, she'll never know because the transfer fell through and they didn't move. But Eliza kept adding her goals and secret fears to the list in the notebook. Now it's two years later, and in that time Eliza has had and lost her first boyfriend. But this was more than your average breakup...turns out the sweet and cute Cooper was only dating her as a hazing stunt by a secret society. Eliza got her revenge by posting some pretty nasty (and only sort-of true) stuff about Cooper online. That posting has had major consequences and now Cooper and his buddies have stolen her private notebook and won't give it back until she performs all the things on her list in one night. It's torture...until Eliza steals something from the boys she knows they'll want to trade her notebook for. What starts out as a night of humiliation turns into a night of revelations as Eliza learns what Cooper was really thinking when they dated, the real reason he's stolen her notebook, and how freeing--and life-changing--it can be to do the things you fear the most.
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Lauren Barnholdt is the author of the teen novels The Thing About the Truth, Sometimes It Happens, One Night That Changes Everything, Two-way Street, Right of Way, and Watch Me. She is also the author of the middle grade novels The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better, Four Truths and a Lie, Rules for Secret-Keeping, Fake Me a Match, and the Girl Meets Ghost series. She lives in Waltham, Massachusetts. Visit her at LaurenBarnholdt.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I lose everything. Keys, my wallet, money, library books. People don’t even take it seriously anymore. Like when I lost the hundred dollars my grandma gave me for back-to-school shopping, my mom didn’t blink an eye. She was all, “Oh, Eliza, you should have given it to me to hold on to” and then she just went on with her day.
I try not to really stress out about it anymore. I mean, the things I lose eventually show up. And if they don’t, I can always replace them.
Except for my purple notebook. My purple notebook is completely and totally irreplaceable. It’s not like I can just march into the Apple store and buy another one. Which is why it totally figures that after five years of keeping very close tabs on it (Five years! I’ve never done anything consistently for five years!) I’ve lost it.
“What are you doing?” my best friend Clarice asks. She’s sitting at my computer in the corner of my room, IMing with her cousin Jamie. Clarice showed up at nine o’clock this morning, with a huge bag of Cheetos and a six-pack of soda. “I’m ready to party,” she announced when I opened my front door. Then she pushed past me and marched up to my room.
I tried to point out that it was way too early to be up on a Saturday, but Clarice didn’t care because: (a) she’s a morning person and (b) she thought the weekend needed to start asap, since my parents are away for the night, and she figured we should maximize the thirty-six-hour window of their absence.
“I’m looking for something,” I say from under my bed. My body is shoved halfway under, rooting around through the clothes, papers, and books that have somehow accumulated under there since the last time I cleaned. Which was, you know, months ago. My hand brushes against something wet and hard. Hmm.
“What could you possibly be looking for?” she asks. “We have everything we need right here.”
“If you’re referring to the Cheetos,” I say, “I’m sorry, but I think I’m going to need a little more than that.”
“No one,” Clarice declares, “needs more than Cheetos.” She takes one out of the bag and slides it into her mouth, chewing delicately. Clarice is from the South, and for some reason, when she moved here a couple of years ago, she’d never had Cheetos. We totally bonded over them one day in the cafeteria, and ever since then, we’ve been inseparable. Me, Clarice, and Cheetos. Not necessarily in that order.
“So what are you looking for?” she asks again.
“Just my notebook,” I say. “The purple one.”
“Oooh,” she says. “Is that your science notebook?”
“No,” I say.
“Math?” she tries.
“No,” I say.
“It’s just this notebook I need,” I say. I abandon the wet, hard mystery object under the bed, deciding I can deal with it later. And by later, I mean, you know, never.
“What kind of notebook?” she presses.
“Just, you know, a notebook,” I lie. My face gets hot, and I hurry over to my closet and open the door, turning my back to her so that she can’t see I’m getting all flushed.
The thing is, no one really knows the truth about what’s in my purple notebook. Not Clarice, not my other best friend, Marissa, not even my sister, Kate. The whole thing is just way too embarrassing. I mean, a notebook that lists every thing that you’re afraid of doing? Like, written down? In ink? Who does that? It might be a little bit crazy, even. Like, for real crazy. Not just “oh isn’t that charming and endearing” crazy but “wow that might be a deep-seated psychological issue” crazy.
But I started the notebook when I was twelve, so I figure I have a little bit of wiggle room in the psychiatric disorders department. And besides, it was totally started under duress. There was this whole situation, this very real possibility that my dad was going to get a job transfer to a town fifty miles away. My whole family was going to move to a place where no one knew us.
So of course in my deluded little twelve-year-old brain, I became convinced that if I could just move to a different house and a different town, I’d be a totally different person. I’d leave my braces and frizzy hair behind, and turn myself into a goddess. No one would know me at my new school, so I could be anyone I wanted, not just “Kate Sellman’s little sister, Eliza.” I bought a purple notebook at the drugstore with my allowance, and I started writing down all the things I was afraid to do at the time, but would of course be able to do in my new school.
They were actually pretty lame at first, like French kiss a boy, or ask a boy to the dance, or wear these ridiculous tight pants that all the girls were wearing that year. But somehow putting them down on paper made me feel better, and after my dad’s job transfer fell through, I kept writing in it. And writing in it, and writing in it, and writing in it. And, um, I still write in it. Not every day or anything. Just occasionally.
Of course, the things I list have morphed a little over the years from silly to serious. I still put dumb things in, like wanting to wear a certain outfit, but I have more complicated things in there too. Like how I wish I had the nerve to go to a political rally, or how I wish I could feel okay about not knowing what I want to major in when I go to college. And the fact that these very embarrassing and current things are WRITTEN DOWN IN MY NOTEBOOK means I have to find it. Like, now.
The doorbell rings as I’m debating whether or not the notebook could be in my parents’ car, traveling merrily on its way to the antique furniture conference they went to. This would be good, since (a) it would at least be safe, but bad because (a) what if my parents read it and (b) I won’t be able to check the car until they get home, which means I will spend the entire weekend on edge and freaking out.
“That’s probably Marissa,” I say to Clarice.
Clarice groans and rolls her blue eyes. “Why is she coming over?” she asks. She pouts out her pink-glossed bottom lip.
“Because she’s our friend,” I say. Which is only a half truth. Marissa is my friend, and Clarice is my friend, and Marissa and Clarice ... well ... they have this weird sort of love/hate relationship. They both really love each other deep down (at least, I think they do), but Marissa thinks Clarice is a little bit of an airhead and kind of a tease, and Clarice thinks Marissa is a little crazy and slightly slutty. They’re both kind of right.
Marissa must have gotten tired of waiting and just let herself in, because a second later she appears in my doorway.
“What are you doing in there?” she asks.
“I’m looking for something,” I say from inside my closet, where I’m throwing bags, sweaters, belts, and shoes over my shoulder in an effort to see if my notebook has somehow been buried at the bottom. I try to remember the last time I wrote in it. I think it was last week. I had dinner with my sister and then I wrote about what I would say to ... Well. What I would say to a certain person. If I had the guts to, I mean. And if I ever wanted to even think or talk about that person again, which I totally don’t.
“What something?” Marissa asks. She steps gingerly through the disaster area that is now my room and plops down on the bed.
“A notebook,” Clarice says. Her fingers are flying over the keyboard of my laptop as she IMs.
“You mean like for school?” Marissa asks. “You said this was going to be our party weekend! No studying allowed!”
“Yeah!” Clarice says, agreeing with Marissa for once. She holds the bag out to her. “You want a Cheeto?” Marissa takes one.
“No,” I say, “You guys said this was going to be our party weekend.” Although, honestly, we don’t really party all that much. At least, I don’t. “All I said was, ‘My parents are going away on Saturday, do you want to come over and keep me company?’”
“Yes,” Clarice says. “And that implies party weekend.”
“Yeah,” Marissa says. “Come on, Eliza, we have to at least do something.”
“Like what?” I ask.
“Like invite some guys over,” Clarice says.
Marissa nods in agreement, then adds, “And go skinny dipping and get drunk.”
And then Clarice gets a super-nervous look on her face, and she quickly rushes on to add, “I mean, not guys guys. I mean, not guys to like date or anything. Just to ... I mean, I don’t know if you’re ready to, or if you even want to—oh, crap, Eliza, I’m sorry.” She bites her lip, and Marissa shoots her a death glare, her brown eyes boring into Clarice’s blue ones.
“It’s fine,” I say. “You guys don’t have to keep tiptoeing around it. I am completely and totally over him.” I’m totally lying, and they totally know it. The thing is, three and a half weeks ago, I got dumped by Cooper Marriatti, a.k.a. the last person I wrote about in my notebook, a.k.a. the person who I never, ever want to talk about again. (Obviously I can say his name while defending myself from the allegation that I still like him—that is a total exception to the “never bring his name up again” rule.) I really liked him, but it didn’t work out. To put it mildly. Cooper did something really despicable to me, and for that reason, I am totally over it.
“Of course you are,” Clarice says, nodding her head up and down. “And of course I know we don&rsq...
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