Daniel Ehrenhaft Tell It to Naomi

ISBN 13: 9780385731294

Tell It to Naomi

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9780385731294: Tell It to Naomi

Dave Rosen has a secret. “Naomi,” the wise, witty, always-on-target, female writer behind his high school’s hit advice column, is, well, him. A native New Yorker who likes secondhand CD shops, The Simpsons, and meatball heroes.

A kid like him doesn’t have all the answers. He doesn’t even have most of the answers. Dave only got himself dragged into this fiasco to help out his older sister, the real Naomi—and because he let himself be convinced that it might, in some lunatic way, enable him to meet his dream girl, the senior who gets his weak little sophomore heart racing: Celeste Fanucci. If he could get Celeste to write in and open up her soul to “Naomi,” he could use this secret knowledge to transform himself.

He could bridge the unbridgeable chasm between sophomore boys and senior girls. It’s a grand, grand scheme. And it’s about to go haywire.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Daniel Ehrenhaft has written numerous novels, often under the name Daniel Parker, and is the recipient of the 2003 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel for The Wessex Papers, Volumes 1 through 3. He lives with his wife, Jessica, in New York City, and would never, ever give her advice unless she wanted him to.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
The whole sordid fiasco began when I saw Celeste Fanucci for the first time--in the hall at Roosevelt High, the second day of school my sophomore year.

I recognized her right away. I'd heard people whispering about her the day before, so I knew what to look for. Not that I had any hope of talking to her, of course. No, that would have required major outside help: a sudden celebrity appearance, skeletons rising from their graves, that sort of thing. Only then could I have come up with a good opening line--like, "Hey, it's the guy from that movie!" or, "Watch out: the undead!"

Celeste Fanucci was beautiful. She was mysterious: a new senior, a transfer. She wore a flowery dress and Birkenstocks. Her blond hair tumbled in curly waves down her back.

She had a nose ring. She was cool. She was bohemian. She was a woman.

I was a boy.

I was nothing.

You can't exaggerate the chasm that exists between sophomore boys and senior girls. You really can't. It's unbridgeable. Sophomore boys and senior girls aren't even members of the same species. Our species is puny, skinny, and awkward. It's basically designed to be avoided or ignored. Theirs is ideal. Theirs appears in commercials. As such, they can do whatever they want. The future stretches at their feet like a red carpet, plush and well vacuumed, leading them straight into a glamorous VIP event--and, farther down the line, into a backstage area patrolled by beefy security guards whose sole job is to keep us sophomore boys away from it.

Okay, I know. Not every senior girl is an unattainable beauty--especially not at Roosevelt High. I mean, if you went to my school, you'd probably say: What about Olga Romanoff, the president of the literary club? She's a senior, right? Doesn't she remind you of those Russian dolls, the squat little wooden ones that come packed one inside the other?

And on the flip side, you might say that not all sophomore boys are little wieners, either. There are guys like Jed Beck: swarthy, dark--the J. Crew-model type. Last year he grew a beard just to show off. He was barely fourteen. The hair came in pretty full, too. Rumor has it that he even bridged the unbridgeable chasm. (With whom, I don't know. Olga Romanoff, I hope.)

But trust me, by the age of twenty-seven Jed Beck will be fat, bald, and miserable--a divorced gas station attendant--whereas I will be the next Jimi Hendrix. Well, except that I won't be black. But I will be cool. And I will drive women crazy. I have Faith in this. I really do, as surely as rabbis and priests have Faith in the God they never see in person. I must have Faith. Without it I would lose Hope. And that would just be too depressing to think about.
Before I go any further, there's something you should know about me: certain people rag on the way I talk.

According to the Jed Becks of the world, I don't talk the way most "normal" guys do. Whatever. Maybe it's true, but it's not my fault. I've never lived with a guy. I've always lived in a Lower East Side apartment full of insane females--Naomi, my mom, and my mom's twin sister, Ruth. My dad died when I was three. He was a schmuck. He split right after I was born, gallivanting across the country and drinking Jack Daniel's until his liver exploded. In the words of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by the Temptations: When he died, all he left us was alone.

In case you were wondering how I know the lyrics to a Temptations song that came out almost twenty years before I was born, I have a good excuse: my mom and Aunt Ruth inhabit a bizarre parallel universe where a woman can be both celibate Jewish ogre and funky, aging hippie--and there is no contradiction. This duality somehow makes sense.

As far as I know, no such universe exists outside the confines of 433 East Ninth Street, apartment 4R. I pray it doesn't, anyway. I pray for the rest of humanity's sake.

But back to the second day of school.

Celeste Fanucci must have caught me staring. She flashed me a quick smile and waved.

I bolted.

In my defense, I was already a little late for Algebra II. (Mr. Cooper likes to "make examples of the tardy.") But to tell you the truth, I was heartbroken. She'd just quashed any far-fetched hope I might have had about her, about us. Because with that one breezy gesture, she'd said, "You can talk to me--in a little-brotherly way, of course--and I might take you under my wing for five minutes and maybe muss your hair once or twice, like a dog. But don't even think about anything else."

I shouldn't have stared at her for so long, I guess. I should have just gone up and said hi.
One more thing you should know about me, and this is very important: my family has always had a problem with secrets.

By problem I mean that our secrets invariably go public--in large part because Naomi always blabs--and when they do, they never fail to disgrace us.

I cite my grandpa Meyer's secret as an example.

Grandpa Meyer was Mom and Aunt Ruth's father. For as long as I knew him, he lived in a retirement home in Brooklyn. He wore a greasy silver toupee. He talked out of the left side of his mouth, like a gangster. He sunned himself whenever possible, too, so his skin had the look and feel of an old baseball mitt.

People say that he was a lot like me.

I don't really see how. I hate the sun. I can go whole summers without swimming or taking off my shirt once, and I'll still be perfectly happy. My skin is superpale. My hair is brown. (Plus it's real.) And I talk fairly normally, if not like other guys. To look at Grandpa Meyer and me--if he were still alive, that is--you probably, hopefully, wouldn't even think that we were part of the same family.

The only real similarity I can think of is that he was one of two children, and his older sister was also named Naomi.

In my experience, people tend to see the smaller picture when it comes to relatives. They'll say that one relative is like the other for a few stupid reasons while ignoring all the many reasons they're not alike. People are funny that way.

Anyway, Grandpa Meyer was famous for two things: sneezing and discussing his memoirs. Often they went hand in hand. He would be sitting on the back patio at the retirement home sunning himself and talking out of the side of his mouth. Suddenly he would freeze up. He would stare at a fixed point in space. Then his eyes would narrow . . . and that's when the leathery nose would explode with the force of cannon fire: Ah-choo! Ah-choo! Ah-choo!--always three violent bursts in rapid succession, usually followed by several more.

"Bless you!" one of us would shout.

Grandpa Meyer sneered at this.

"Bless you?" he scoffed. "You act as if I did something wrong. Sneezing is a thing of majesty. A sneeze never stands alone. It comes in waves, in chains . . . like the tide, or the Himalayas. I'm going to address this very misconception about sneezing in my memoirs. Then you'll see. You'll all see the truth."

He said this last part with great foreboding.

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