Cover image for How NOT to spend your senior year
Title:
How NOT to spend your senior year
Author:
Dokey, Cameron.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Simon Pulse edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon Pulse, 2004.
Physical Description:
293 pages ; 18 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 7.0 76721.
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780689867033
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Rule #1:If at all possible, don't pretend to be something you're not. Specifically, don't play dead. Trust me on this one. I did it, so I should know.Jo O'Connor has spent her whole life moving around. When it comes to new schools, there's not a trick in the book about starting over that Jo doesn't know. But life is about to teach her a new trick: how to disappear entirely.Rule #2:Always expect the Spanish Inquisition, no matter what anyone else does.They have to move again. Now. This very night. Jo knows better than to argue. Her dad is the key witness in a major case against a big-time bad guy. But Jo just can't resist one last visit to the school where she's been so happy. All she wants is to say good-bye. That can't cause any problems, can it?Rule #3:Never assume you can predict the future.Now Jo's one last visit has landed her smack in the middle of a ghost story. Specifically, her own. By the time it's over, she'll have a whole new set of rules about what's real, what's make-believe, and -- most of all -- what's important.


Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Because she and her father are in a witness-protection program, Jo O'Connor has moved, again. She's done it so often that she has a flawless system: blend in. Unfortunately, on her first day as a senior at Beacon High in Seattle she breaks her own rule, with dire consequences. She's noticed by Alex Crawford, BMOC, and is sucked into a whirlwind of friends and popularity. It's not her plan at all, but she finds that she's enjoying herself, and she may even consider being Alex's prom date. Before she can even ask her dad for money for a dress, she discovers that they have to move again. This time, though, she has to pretend to die because her father is the key witness in an important trial, and those he's testifying against want him dead. Then, she goes back to her old school, in disguise as Claire Calloway while keeping in contact with Alex as "Jo's ghost." Sound confusing? It isn't as long as readers are willing to suspend disbelief that Jo won't be recognized by everyone who has seen her picture in the paper (even with her wig and new name). Those looking for a quick, easy read, complete with Shakespeare references and a ghost being elected prom queen, will love this book. With its appealing cover and lighthearted story, it's ideal for reluctant readers as well.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One The story you are about to read is 100 percent true. No, honestly. Of course some things have been changed to protect the innocent. But you'd expect that. It's standard operating procedure when it comes to based-on-true-events stories. If this were a techno-thriller, I could say SOP. And I suppose I could anyway. Parts of my story are quite thrilling, though there really isn't anything particularly techno about them. Except for this one part where... Okay. Wait. I can't believe this is happening. I'm only a couple of paragraphs into this, and already I'm starting to tell things out of order. A thing which is pretty danged annoying, I must admit, though it does bring up an important question, which is as follows: Where does my 100-percent-true story truly start? I suppose you could say the whole thing started the day I was born. I'm thinking that's a bit extreme, though. As an alternative, I'm going to go with the third grade, which I think makes me about eight years old. I'm choosing this because that's the year my mom died, and my dad and I moved for the very first time. Actually let me rephrase that. This is an important point, and I need to make sure I get it just right. That's the year my mom was killed in a hit-and-run collision, and my dad and I moved for the very first time. Way back then, of course, I had no idea that these events were related, or that changing location on the spur of the moment was, paradoxically, about to become one of the most important constants in my life. Just how often did we move? Let me put it this way: To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person in the entire United States to have attended fourteen different elementary schools between the third and sixth grades. That's 3.5 schools a year, in case you're counting. The pace slowed down a little bit in junior high to 2.5 schools a year, then settled down to an even two for the years I was in high school. Except for senior year, of course, but I'll be explaining more about that in a moment. Why did we move so much? You're no doubt also wondering. The answer to this one is pretty simple. I don't know. Or, here's more of that getting-it-just-right thing again: I know now, but I didn't know at the time. I didn't even ask about it, to be completely honest. By the time I was old enough to question the way we lived, I was so used to the way Dad and I did things that I thought it was normal. I did stop unpacking my suitcases after a while. This isn't nearly as weird as it sounds. You put your clothes away in dresser drawers. I put mine away in suitcases. In both cases, folding was involved. It also wasn't nearly as depressing as you might think. In fact, you can pretty much stop waiting for me to reveal my inner-trauma girl about this, because I simply haven't got one. Over the years my dad and I developed a routine when it came to moving. Actually two routines: One for leaving a place, and another for arriving in one. But no matter where we went, the living quarters were always the same: a furnished apartment. This was another aspect of life I simply never thought to question. I think I was about twelve before it finally dawned on me that not all dwelling places came complete with couches. Regardless of the apartment's location, my father and I always performed the same action upon stepping across the threshold for the very first time. We looked for the perfect location for this big gold-framed photo of my mom. Dad packed it in one of his own suitcases, but he always let me pick out the spot for it. Without fail, I looked for a place that would let me see Mom's picture the moment I walked in the front door. Not that we were morbid about this or anything. We both knew my mom was gone. But we didn't have to pretend she'd never existed, my dad said. Getting out the photograph was just one way of demonstrating the way she lived on in our hearts. Our leaving routine was slightly more complex and involved two distinct phases. Phase one involved Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin. These always came in late at night and went on for several nights in a row. Though the calls were another thing I got so used to I never questioned my dad directly, I did come up with a couple of theories about them: a) They came in at night in the hope that I would be asleep and not hear the phone ring. b) Dad never talked long, so it couldn't be a new girlfriend. Therefore, the caller had to be another guy. I mean, can we just get real here for a second? I'm a girl. When do I not hear the phone? After a couple of days, the Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin would cease as abruptly as they'd started. A day when nothing special seemed to happen would go by. Secretly I'd begin double checking my suitcases, making sure everything was in order, because I knew what was coming next. That would be phase two. In phase two, The Map got involved. The really big one of the whole United States that covered the entire kitchen table when we opened it. "Hey, Jo-Jo," my dad would call out as he heard me come in the door. Dad does freelance research. Or maybe, considering our lifestyle, the term should be free-range. He spends most of his day sitting in front of his laptop looking things up for people he almost never sees. Not your standard Dad-type job, I must admit, but it did have an advantage for us in that he could work from home no matter where home was. He calls me Jo-Jo because that's my nickname. My full name is Josephine Claire Calloway O'Connor, if you have to have it all spelled out. Usually I'm just called Jo. Or, occasionally, Jo-Claire, if my dad is seriously annoyed with me about something. Dad's name is Chase William, a name I've always thought sounds exactly like a relay race. I've never heard anybody call him by either one of his first names. Instead people call him Con. That's short for O'Connor, not a negative character assessment, by the way. "Guess where we're going," my dad would say, gesturing to The Map while I put my backpack on the counter and headed to the fridge for the glass of juice I'd poured before heading out for school that morning. Just another example of being prepared. I probably would have been a Girl Scout if we'd stayed in one place long enough. "Is it warm and sunny with no big bugs?" I'd inquire. This had been my standard question since I was ten, mostly because I thought it described Southern California. If we had to move, why not close to Disneyland? "Sunny and warm?" my dad would exclaim, scrunching up his face in mock horror. "Where's your sense of adventure, Jo-Jo?" "Gee, Dad, I don't know. But if you give me a minute, I'll find it and pack it." At this, my father would laugh and tousle my hair, a thing which occasionally resulted in juice ending up on the floor. "Here. We're going right here, sweetheart." With these words, Dad would point to a spot on The Map. He never pointed at anyplace even remotely close to Disneyland, a thing I probably don't need to tell you. Pretty much without fail, my dad would have selected some town that even the people who already lived there had barely even heard of. Not only that, but for some reason I've never even attempted to explain, my father seemed particularly attracted to towns whose names begin with the letter B. Which explains how I ended up living in Bemidgi, Minnesota; Bottom, North Carolina; Braintree, Vermont (actually, East Braintree); and Boring, Oregon. Boring was the last small town we lived in, though. And also the last place beginning with B, now that I think about it. I was about to start high school by then, and the next time my father got The Map out, he announced that, for the duration of my high school years, we'd be living in a metropolitan area environment, as this would be better for my overall development. I have no idea how he came to this conclusion. Let's just say I didn't argue. After Boring, we moved to Clackamas, which wasn't all that far away but did have one key feature of a metropolitan environment which definitely improved my overall development: shopping malls. It also started with the letter C, which I had to figure meant Dad and I were making some sort of progress, even if I didn't exactly know what kind. That's where I began my freshman year. I finished it across the Washington border, in a place called Enumclaw. I am not making any of these names up, just so you know. Enumclaw is actually slightly east of Clackamas, in a longitude and latitude sort of way. I think it was right about then that I developed this sudden fear that, having spent most of my childhood moving in a westerly direction, my father was now going to touch base at the Pacific Ocean, then start moving us back the way we'd come. Before I could get up the courage to ask about this, however, we moved again pretty much straight north, to a place called Issaquah. This did allay my moving-back-east fears, though the thought that we might might be headed for the Canadian border did begin to cross my mind. The rest of sophomore, all of junior, and the beginning of senior year we spent bouncing from place to place on what people in the greater Seattle metropolitan area call the Eastside, by which they mean the east side of Lake Washington. Right about the time I was beginning to worry that my father had developed a water phobia, about two thirds of the way through senior year, we got a flurry of Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin. As a result, we finally did it. We moved to Seattle. And it's in Seattle that the main events of my story actually take place. There you have it. My childhood in a nutshell. Before I get completely up to date, though, there's a thing you absolutely must know. I don't particularly relish confessing this, but I pretty much have to. If I don't, nothing that happened later will make any sense to you at all. Now that I think about it, I suppose I could have started my 100-percent-true story right here. On my first day at Beacon High. That's the day I did the very last thing I expected. I fell head over heels in love. Copyright (c) 2004 by Cameron Dokey Chapter Two His name was Alex Crawford. Actually it still is. Nothing terrible happens to him during the course of my story, though it is both fair and accurate to say he does experience some surprises. A thing which makes two of us, now that I think about it. Alex himself was my very first surprise. If things had gone the way they usually did at a new school, chances were good Alex and I would never have met. Or, at the most, we'd have seen each other only across a crowded classroom or passing in the halls. He'd take one look at me, maybe notice I was new, then forget he'd ever seen me at all. No, I am not dissing myself, nor am I suffering from some undiagnosed self-esteem problem of astronomical proportions. I'm just stating the natural result of my number one approach to fitting in at a new school. Always blend in. Never stand out from the crowd. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. All you have to do is be reasonably pleasant to everyone you meet and resist the impulse to make extreme fashion choices. It's also more interesting than you might expect. To be an observer. To be, as it were, a crowd of one. In my case, it was also the only practical thing to do. There wasn't very much point in getting noticed or getting attached when I knew that, sooner or later, and usually it was sooner, I'd be moving on. There is one other advantage of not drawing attention to yourself: It makes it much easier to figure out who the players are. On my left, the computer geeks and skateboard dudes. To my right, the always-dressed-in-basic-black artistic types. Front and center, the popular crowd. Each school has its own unique variations, of course, but in my experience, students everywhere fall into two main categories: those who want to be noticed, and those who don't. If you fall into the second category, as I always did, you develop extremely good adaptation skills, enabling you to identify the players at a glance, then blend right in to virtually any situation you encounter. After all the new schools I've had to adjust to over the years, I think I can in all modesty state that I possess camouflage skills that can make any blue mutant you care to name look like a total piker. They all deserted me the day that I met Alex. It happened my very first day at Beacon, a thing I think I mentioned before. I was standing across the street from the big brick building that would, in just a few moments, become my brand-new (and I sincerely hoped my last) high school, gazing upward. You're probably thinking I was sizing up the school. I wasn't. Instead, the thing that had captured my attention was this big metal column topped by...absolutely nothing. It was doing this in the parking lot of what I had to figure was the main supplier of off-campus food: a retro-fifties fast-food joint. Maybe it's supposed to be some kind of art, I thought as I stared at the column. I was living in the big city now, after all. Public art happened. Not only that, it didn't have to make sense. In fact, having it not make sense was probably a requirement. "They took it down for repairs," a voice beside me suddenly said. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but the truth is, I jumped about a mile. I'd been so mesmerized by the sight of that column extending upward into space, supporting empty air, that I'd totally lost track of all my soon-to-be-fellow students rushing by me. To this day, I can't quite explain the fascination. But I've promised to tell you the 100 percent truth, which means I've got to include even the parts which make me appear less than impressive. "Huh?" Yes, all right, I know. Nowhere even near the list of incredibly clever replies. "They took it down for repairs," the voice said again. "Took it down," I echoed. By this time, I knew I was well on my way to breaking my own blending-in rule, big time. Sounding like a total idiot can generally be considered a foolproof method of getting yourself noticed. "The car that's usually up there." The guy -- it was a guy; I'd calmed down enough to realize that -- said. I snuck a quick glance at him out of the corner of my eye. First fleeting impression: tall and blond. The kind of muscular-yet-lanky build I might as well just come right out and admit I've always been a sucker for. Faded jeans. Letterman jacket with just about every sport there was represented on it. Gotcha! I thought. BMOC. Big Man on Campus. This made me feel a little better for a couple of reasons. The first was that it showed my skills hadn't abandoned me completely after all. I could still identify the players pretty much on sight. The second was that in my vast, though admittedly from-a-distance, experience of them, BMOCs have short attention spans for anyone less BOC than they are. Disconcerting and intense as it was at the moment, I could nevertheless take comfort in the fact that this guy's unexpected and unnatural interest in me was also unlikely to last very long. "An old Chevy, I think," he was going on now. "It's supposed to be back soon, though. Not really the same without it, is it?" He actually sounded genuinely mournful. I was surprised to find myself battling back a quick, involuntary smile. He did seem to be more interesting than your average, run-of-the-mill BMOC. I had to give him that. Get a grip, O'Connor, I chastised myself. "Absolutely not," I said, giving my head a semi-vigorous nod. That ought to move him along, I thought. You may not be aware of this fact, but agreeing with people is often an excellent way of getting them to forget all about you. After basking in the glow of agreement, most people are then perfectly content to go about their business, remembering only the fact that someone agreed and allowing the identity of the person who did the actual agreeing to fade into the background. This technique almost always works. In fact, I'd never known it not to. There was a moment of silence. A silence in which I could feel the BMOC's eyes upon me. I kept my own eyes fixed on the top of the carless column. But the longer the silence went on, the more strained it became. At least it did on my side. This guy was simply not abiding by the rules. He was supposed to have basked and moved on by now. "You don't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about, do you?" he said at last. I laughed before I quite realized what I'd done. "Not a clue," I said, turning to give him my full attention for the very first time, an action I could tell right away spelled trouble. You just had to do it, didn't you? I thought. He was even better looking when I took a better look. He flashed me a smile, and I felt my pulse kick up several notches. My brain knew perfectly well that that smile had not been invented just for me. My suddenly-beating-way-too-fast heart wasn't paying all that much attention to my brain, though. "You must be new, then," he commented. "I'd remember you if we'd met before." All of a sudden, his face went totally blank. "I cannot believe I just said that," he said. "That is easily the world's oldest line." "If it isn't, it's the cheesiest," I said. He winced. "I'd ask you to let me make it up to you, but I'm thinking that would make things even worse." "You'd be thinking right." This time he was the one who laughed, the sound open and easy, as if he was genuinely enjoying the joke on himself. In retrospect I think it was that laugh that did it. That finished the job his smile had started. You just didn't find all that many guys, all that many people, who were truly willing to laugh at themselves. "I'm Alex Crawford," he said. "Jo," I said. "Jo O'Connor." At this Alex actually stuck out his hand. His eyes, which I probably don't need to tell you were this pretty much impossible shade of blue, focused directly on my face. "Pleased to meet you, Jo O'Connor." I watched my hand move forward to meet his, as if it belonged to a stranger and was moving in slow motion. At that exact moment, an image of the robot from the movie Lost in Space flashed through my mind. Arms waving frantically in the air, screaming, "Danger! Danger!" at the top of its inhuman lungs. My hand kept moving anyhow. Our fingers connected. I felt the way Alex's wrapped around mine, then tightened. Felt the way that simple action caused a flush to spread across my cheeks and a tingle to start in the palm of my hand and slowly begin to work its way up my arm. To this day, I'd swear I heard him suck in a breath, saw his impossibly blue eyes widen. As if, at the exact same moment I looked up at him, he'd discovered something as completely unexpected as I had, gazing down. He released me. I stuck my hand behind my back. "Pleased to meet you, Jo O'Connor," he said again. Not quite the way he had the first time. "Welcome to Beacon High. So, where are you from, if you aren't from around here?" "Pretty much all over," I said, retaining just enough presence of mind to give my standard, non-specific reply. "O-kaay," Alex said, drawing out the second syllable as if trying to decide whether or not to ask more. From across the street at the school, the warning bell that signaled the imminent commencement of classes trilled sharply. "Sounds like we'd better get going," Alex said. "Uh-huh," I responded. He stepped back and made a gesture as if ushering me forward. I walked beside him toward my newest school, trying to convince myself that the reason I suddenly felt so dizzy and lightheaded was that I'd contracted some bizarre Seattle flu bug. Copyright (c) 2004 by Cameron Dokey Excerpted from How Not to Spend Your Senior Year by Cameron Dokey, Amy Saidens All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.