Cover image for Crushes, codas, and corsages
Crushes, codas, and corsages
Schusterman, Michelle, author.
Publication Information:
New York, New York, USA : Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, [2014]

Physical Description:
168 pages ; 20 cm.
As the band gets ready for its regional competition and the science fair approaches, Holly begins to question her feelings for Owen.
General Note:
The word "heart" in the series statement appears as the heart symbol.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.7 5.0 169436.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Series
J FICTION Juvenile Mass Market Paperback Series

On Order



Former band director Michelle Schusterman ends her adorable series about middleschool band geeks with the perfect coda!
The band has been preparing for their big regional competition all year and it's time for all of their work to pay off. On top of preparing for competition, Holly is excited to go to the Spring Dance with Owen, but is he still interested after meeting a new girl at art camp over spring break? Holly and friends band together to have an amazing end to their seventh grade year.

Author Notes

Michelle Schusterman is a former band director and forever band geek, dating back to when she first picked up a pair of drumsticks in the sixth grade. Now Michelle writes books, screenplays, and music. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist).



Spring break is really a teaser for summer. Just when you're getting used to all the sun and sleep, it's time to face that last little stretch of school before the real vacation starts. Which was why I'd made a Summer Countdown Calendar the day before we came home from the lake. My brother, Chad, called it "the nerdiest thing Holly's ever done--and that's saying something." But I could only take so much relaxing. Especially when "relaxing" with my family meant lying in the sun until Chad inevitably picked me up and threw me into the freezing lake, forcing me into yet another Pool Noodle Battle Royale. (None of which I'd won, thanks to his unfair advantage of being, like, twice my size.) He was right about my Summer Countdown Calendar being nerdy, though. Looking at it actually got me more excited about school than about summer break. In my defense, I had a lot to look forward to. The sequel to House of the Wicked, my favorite movie, was coming out next weekend. The spring dance was in May, and the district science fair was the same weekend. And of course, I had plenty of band stuff coming up, too. There was the spring concert, which would be our last performance of the year. And our band director, Mr. Dante, had been talking about what a big deal the UIL competition was since school started back in the fall. It was less than a month away. Which was why I spent the Sunday morning before school practicing. After pounding on the wall between our bedrooms for fifteen solid minutes, Chad fled the house. It was the first time he'd been awake before noon all week. I took a break from "Labyrinthine Dances," our hardest UIL music, and glanced at the clock. My best friend, Julia Gordon, was supposed to be here any minute. Between my trip to the lake and her family spending their vacation with her grandparents in Galveston, we hadn't talked in over a week. Actually, I hadn't seen any of my friends since spring break started--another reason I couldn't wait to get back to school. I missed Julia like crazy, and Natasha and Gabby, too. And Owen. Stretching my arms, I studied my Summer Countdown Calendar, which was pinned on my bulletin board next to a picture I'd decided to call "Holly's Haunted Zoo." It was a sketch of me standing in front of an exhibit filled with flying ghost-white alligators. My friend Owen Reynolds had drawn it at the zoo during our band trip to New Orleans. I'd made my mom take it to work and laminate it for me before I framed it, which for some reason she thought was really funny. But Owen was going to be a famous artist someday. He'd even won this huge art contest a few weeks ago and got to miss the last few days of school before spring break to go to an animation workshop in San Antonio. He was kind of awesome. And if I was really honest with myself, Owen was a big part of why I couldn't wait for school tomorrow. "You're tan !" I spun around right before Julia tackled me. Laughing, I hugged her back. "Farmer's tan, unfortunately." Pulling my sleeve up an inch, I pointed to the very distinct line where my skin went from blinding white to a shade darker than pale. "The weather was all over the place--not really hot enough for a bathing suit yet." Julia grinned. "But at least your face is all pink and freckly. No, it's cute!" she added when I groaned. "Yeah, no tanning for me this summer," I said. "It just makes me blotchy. So how was Galveston?" Shrugging, Julia tossed her purse on my dresser. "Fine, I guess. Fun for the first few days, but by Wednesday I was hiding in the closet with a book just to get away from my cousins. A ghost book, Holly." My mouth dropped. "Are you serious?" Julia was a total chicken when it came to any kind of horror stuff. "Yeah, my grandma bought it for me. And I actually kind of liked it," she said, giggling at my shocked expression. "It was more funny than scary. Although still scary enough that I think you'd like it. I'll let you borrow it, if you want." "Sure!" I glanced at my calendar. "So now that you've finally realized horror rocks, does that mean you'll come see the House of the Wicked sequel with me?" Julia snorted. "Uh, no. Not for a million dollars." She paused, tilting her head. "Well, maybe for that. I could just wear a popcorn bucket on my head for two hours." "Come on," I pleaded, flopping down on my bed. "I'll go see two sappy romantic movies with you. Two for one, Julia. And you could bring Seth--I bet he'd like House ." Seth Anderson was Julia's boyfriend. Judging from the book of scary short stories he'd lent me a few weeks ago, I was pretty sure he'd appreciate the creepy brilliance that was House of the Wicked. "No deal." Glancing at the bulletin board, Julia smiled a little. "Why do you want me to go so bad, anyway? Don't you already have a date for that? Oh, sorry--not a date ," she added, her eyes comically wide. "A totally platonic hang. Like, your not-date to the spring dance. With the guy who drew that amazing picture of you. Which isn't sappy or romantic at all, nope, not one bit." I laughed, although my sunburned face grew even warmer. I'd asked Owen to the spring dance months ago, because we were friends and I knew we'd have fun. And he'd wanted to come see House with me because he liked the first one. We watched lots of movies together. So it wasn't a date, and neither was the dance. Still, every time I looked at those two spots on the calendar, my stomach did a sort of nervous flip. I gave Julia a pointed look. "Owen and I are--" "Just friends!" Julia yelled, then collapsed on the bed next to me, giggling. "I know, I know." "You don't believe me, though." "I do!" She propped her feet up on the headboard. "I really do, Holly, I swear. I'm just giving you a hard time. Hey, have you heard from Natasha yet?" "Nope." Natasha Prynne, our other best friend, had gone to Florida with her parents and a bunch of extended family. Reaching over, I grabbed my cell phone off my nightstand. "No calls. I'm pretty sure they had a late flight, though." "Oh right." Tilting her head back, Julia grinned. "You were practicing before I got here, weren't you?" I shrugged when she pointed to my French horn sitting on my desk chair. "Maybe." Julia looked amused. "You're stressed about the chair test results, right? You sounded great, Holly. There's no way you'll be last chair again." Right before the band trip, I'd completely flaked out on practicing for one of our chair tests. Mr. Dante had given us another one before spring break, and we were supposed to get the results tomorrow. Yet another reason I couldn't wait for school. With UIL coming up, it would be pretty cool to be first chair in my section. "Thanks," I said. "I'm not worried, though--I mean, being last chair wasn't all that bad." I rolled my eyes when she clutched her chest in shock. "I can't believe Chad put up with you playing all morning." "He didn't," I told her. "He drove off in the Trash Mobile a few hours ago. He probably went to Leon's house or something." Nudging Julia's arm, I smiled. "Want to go raid his horror DVDs? I think you'd like Dark Omnibus. It's got romance and everything." Before she could respond, I jumped to my feet and headed to the door. "There's even a kissing scene," I added. "Right before the guy gets sucked into a book possessed by demons." I ducked into the hall just as the pillow Julia had launched at me hit the door. "Doesn't count." "Does so." Julia glared at me, twirling the combination on her locker. "Does not. I cannot believe I let you talk me into watching that movie." I grinned. "Hey, I gave you fair warning. And there was plenty of romantic junk." "Holly, for the last time . . ." Shaking her head, Julia started cramming books into her backpack. "It doesn't count as a kissing scene when the guy's eyes turn black and bees come out of his mouth. " "Wow, which movie's that?" Julia and I turned, startled. Aaron Cook smiled at us as he opened his locker, which was right next to Julia's. " Dark Omnibus. It's pretty good," I told him, right as Julia said, "It's horrible. " Aaron laughed. "Mixed reviews." " Horrible, " Julia hissed again, and I giggled. "How was your spring break?" Aaron asked. "Pretty good," I replied. "Went to the lake with my parents and brother. Nothing too exciting. How about you?" "It was all right." Aaron caught several folders and books as they tumbled out of his locker. "Spent a few days in Austin with my older sister and her family. And--" He stopped, a weird look on his face, and I turned around. "Hi!" Natasha was smiling, but she looked uncomfortable, too. Slamming her locker shut, Julia spun around with a squeal and threw her arms around Natasha. "How was your trip? What time did you get back? Did you get my message last night? We kept texting you, but I guess you were still on the plane, and then Holly made me watch this horrible movie, and I'm totally traumatized and--" Laughing, I pushed her away. "Julia, get a grip!" I hugged Natasha, then glanced at Aaron, who looked pretty focused on shoving his jumble of folders back into his locker. Aaron and Natasha had been dating ever since winter break, but she'd broken up with him on the band trip to New Orleans. A nice break-up, not like a fight or anything. But still a break-up. Aaron finally got his locker closed, then gave us all a quick smile. "See you guys in band!" he said before taking off down the hall. "See you." I turned to see Natasha fidgeting nervously with the strap on her backpack. "Well. That was awkward." She made a face. "Yeah. Sorry." "I'm sure it'll get better," Julia said. "Don't you think?" Natasha sighed. "I hope so--I mean, we're going to see each other every day in band. I hope he doesn't hate me." "He doesn't hate you," I assured her. "I'm sure things will go back to normal soon. So how was Florida?" "It was amazing!" Beaming, Natasha pulled out her phone and started flipping through photos. "Check it out! I took one of every roller coaster I rode." My eyes widened as she scrolled past what looked like a creepy old hotel. "Hang on--you actually went on that ride?" Natasha nodded proudly. "Yup! You'd love it." Grabbing Natasha's phone, Julia groaned. "Oh my God, is that, like, a haunted house? What happened to the girl who was properly scared to death of all this stuff, like me?" "It's not a haunted house--it's a drop ride," Natasha explained. "You know, where you free-fall. Although it was pretty creepy, too," she added as an afterthought. "The lights flicker on and off, and the elevator goes black right before it drops. You should've seen my parents' faces when I got in line. Actually, my whole family was kind of shocked." "This is your fault." Julia poked me in the shoulder. "You dragged her onto that roller coaster in New Orleans. You created this monster." Still scrolling through the photos, Natasha bounced on her toes. "I started making a list of amusement parks we should go to this summer," she told me, just as the bell rang. Grinning, I picked up my backpack. "Awesome. Maybe we can find a good haunted drop ride for Julia." "Nooo . . . ," Julia moaned. I waved as Natasha dragged her down the hall to their history class. When the bell rang to end third period, I bolted from the gym to the band hall so fast I probably broke my own sprinting record in PE. The chair test results were posted outside on Mr. Dante's office door. French Horn 1. Natasha Prynne 2. Holly Mead 3. Owen Reynolds 4. Brooke Dennis Relieved, I headed to the cubby room. Natasha and I were constantly competing for first chair. It was a friendly rivalry, though. I still had another chair test before the end of the year--I could try for first chair one more time. And besides, I wasn't exactly bummed about sitting next to Owen. A few kids were already getting their instruments. I waved to Victoria Rios, who already had her trumpet out. She was talking to Max Foster near the trombone section's cubbies. Just as I was closing my case, I heard a couple of familiar voices. "I'm telling you, it's not cheating. It's just adjusting the rules a little." "Swapping half your deck in the middle of a game is cheating, Trevor." Shoving my case back into my cubby, I hurried to the entrance. "Owen!" Owen's eyes lit up. "Hi, Holly!" We had a brief, weird moment of almost hugging but just standing there smiling at each other like dorks instead. Then I thought what the heck and hugged him anyway, which was kind of awkward since I still had my horn. "Hi, Holly," Trevor Wells said pointedly. "Hey, Trevor," I said before turning back to Owen. "Okay, tell me about San Antonio! How was the workshop?" Rolling his eyes, Trevor headed for his cubby. Owen's cheeks flushed as he pulled his sketchbook out of his backpack. "It was great! Most of the work I did was computer animation, but I've got some stuff here. And I had a lot of ideas for our science project. Maybe--" The bell rang, cutting him off. "Show me at lunch?" I asked, and he nodded. "Sure!" While Owen went to his cubby, I headed to my seat and found Natasha sitting next to it with a rather nervous expression. Aaron sat directly behind her, talking to Liam Park. I gave Natasha a sympathetic smile as I slipped past her to my chair. Hopefully Julia was right and things would get less awkward between Natasha and Aaron soon. "What's this?" I picked up a brochure on my chair. "Oh . . . Lake Lindon." "I think Mr. Dante put them on everyone's chairs before the bell," Natasha said, pointing to the brochure she'd set on her music stand. Lake Lindon Band Camp was a whole week of band-geek heaven--cabins, rehearsals, a concert, all kinds of stuff. It was where Julia and Natasha had met last summer. "Any chance your parents will let you go this year?" Natasha asked hopefully. Sighing, I stuck the brochure in my backpack. "Last year, they said I could go the summer before high school. But I'm definitely going to ask again." "Hiya, ladies." Gabby Flores flopped into the chair on Natasha's other side, still tightening the mouthpiece on her saxophone. "Holly, I'm really freaking out about my paper." I nodded in agreement. Gabby and I had first-period English together, and this morning Mr. Franks had given back our first drafts for this huge research project he'd assigned in January. Everyone's papers had been covered in red marks and scribbled notes. "Seriously, I'm going to have to rewrite the whole thing," Gabby said. "And it's due next week? He's crazy. How'd yours look? Hi, Owen," she added. Shrugging, I scooted my chair back a little to let Owen pass me. "He said I need more sources. There's a lot more notes, but I haven't read them all yet." I tried to keep my voice light, but I was already kind of stressing about the rest of the semester, and my first day back wasn't even halfway over. Between the research project, the science fair, and final exams, my countdown to summer was starting to feel more like a deadline time bomb. Something Mr. Dante didn't help one bit when, after warm-ups, he handed out a letter for our parents. University Interscholastic League Concert and Sight-Reading Contest was printed in bold along the top. I scanned it quickly, even though he'd talked to us about most of this earlier this semester. A bus would take us to Ridgewood High School for the contest after first period, so our parents didn't have to worry about driving. We'd perform onstage for three judges, and they'd each give us a rating. Then we'd go to another room to sight-read a piece of music, and three more judges would rate us on that. After we got our ratings, we'd go to Spins for a pizza lunch . . . and, hopefully, to celebrate. In the back of the band hall was a long shelf lined with trophies. Those were for Sweepstakes, which meant earning a Superior rating from all six judges on stage and in sight-reading. Millican had a lot of them, but not for every single year--I'd already looked. I really wanted us to add another trophy this year. Mr. Dante began moving through the rows, placing a sheet of music facedown on everyone's stands. Leaning to my left, I nudged Brooke Dennis. "You guys got Sweepstakes last year, right?" I whispered. Brooke was in eighth grade and had been in advanced band last year, too. She nodded. "Mrs. Wendell was really excited, since it was her last year. I think that was the fifth time in a row we got Sweepstakes." My stomach twinged with nerves. Mrs. Wendell had been the band director at Millican practically forever, but she'd retired last year. I wondered if Mr. Dante was anxious about UIL, too, since it was his first year teaching here. If he was, he sure didn't show it. "Let's talk a bit about sight-reading," Mr. Dante said cheerfully, placing a sheet of music on Liam's stand. "Yes, Gabby?" Gabby lowered her hand. "What's the point of them judging us on music we've never even seen before? Especially since we've already been practicing the other songs so much." "That is the point." Mr. Dante handed music to the percussionists. "The music we sight-read will be quite a bit easier than our other music. But it's a way for the judges to hear how good our fundamentals are--tone, rhythms, technique. I want to try it today, so there are a few rules we need to go over." He stepped back up to the podium and started to explain the process. After a minute, my eyes were pretty much bulging out of my head. The judges would set a timer. Mr. Dante would have a few minutes to talk to us about the music, but he couldn't sing melodies or clap rhythms. Then the timer would go off, and he'd get a few more minutes where he could sing or clap rhythms, but we still couldn't. We couldn't play at all , just move our fingers along while he conducted. If we accidentally played a note or something, we could actually get disqualified. And when the timer went off again, we'd just . . . perform it. The entire song, without stopping, for the first time. The whole thing was confusing, not to mention terrifying. I glanced around the room. Most of the seventh-graders looked as anxious as I felt, but the eighth-graders didn't. And they'd done this last year. Maybe it wasn't as scary as it sounded. "Let's give it a shot." Mr. Dante set a timer, then opened his score. "Go ahead and turn over your music." I flipped the page over. Well, it did look a little easier than our other music. I tapped my fingers on the valves while Mr. Dante talked us through it, stopping occasionally to point out difficult parts and remind us about the coda--a separate, final few measures at the bottom of the page. When the timer went off, I glanced at Natasha. She shrugged. Excerpted from Crushes, Codas, and Corsages by Michelle Schusterman 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.