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Meeting girls and going to school and hanging out with friends shouldn't be that tough. But it is if you're fifteen and you're biracial and your name is Moonbeam and you live on a commune with your mother and a bunch of granola-munching, tie-dyed, tofu-eating, sandal-wearing hippies! All moonbeam wants is to be normal. but as Moonbeam is about to discover, life for a normal teenagers is anything but.
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Meeting girls and going to high school shouldn't be totally impossible for a guy who's fifteen. But it is if you're Moonbeam Dawson, stuck on a commune called the Happy Children of the Good Earth with a single-parent mother who insists on home schooling. And being of biracial identity has given him even more to think about. He's half white and half Haida Indian, and Moonbeam's wondering just where he fits in.
Anxious for a "normal" life, one that does not include beans and rice--not to mention tofu!--Moonbeam leaps at the chance to work at an island resort off the coast of British Columbia. It's a dream come true. Junk food. Hanging out with friends. Meeting girls. What could be better?
But as Moonbeam Dawson is about to discover, life for a normal teenager is everything but. From award-winning author Jean Davies Okimoto comes a funny, honest novel about a teenage boy's search for identity ... and all the missteps along the way.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Moonbeam Dawson sat in the old truck watching the rain pound against the windshield. It was getting darker by the minute. The place was giving him the creeps. The ancient trees surrounding the parking lot began to look like monsters with shaggy black arms towering against the steely sky. Weird. It didn't even seem like the same place he'd been with the commune school. That day it had been sunny, and the park glittered a hundred shades of green so beautiful he couldn't believe it. Now he just wanted to get out of here. She better hurry up, he thought. At the rate they were going he wasn't sure they'd ever get anywhere tonight, especially the ferry. That was a joke.
Moonbeam leaned his head back against the seat. Things were going to be different when they got to the gulf islands. Some things were definitely going to change, he promised himself. No matter what she said.
Abby Dawson emerged from the park bathroom, lowered her head to shield her face from the driving rain, and ran to the truck.
"You better go, too." She climbed in on the driver's side.
"You're telling me I should go!"
"I'm just suggesting."
"Fifteen. You won't be sixteen for three months. I happen to know your birthday. I was there when you were born."
Moonbeam rolled his eyes and stared at the forest in front of them. Sometimes she was really not funny. I was there when you were born. Hilarious.
Abby pulled off the hood of her parka, shaking her hair. "It's so phony. It really galls me."
"The way they name this part of the park McMullen Emerald Forest, as if the greedy scum actually give a fig for these old trees. It's all for the tourists. A quarter of a million supposedly come through here every year. They want them to think Mc-Mullen Blundeel is preserving the forests because of this one bloody park!"
"It's a scam," Moonbeam agreed.
"You're darn right it is." Abby turned the key to start the truck. The engine started to turn over, then whined and didn't catch. She looked nervously at the ignition. "Don't do this to me. Please, not now."
"I told you-"
She glared at Moonbeam. "It probably is the battery and don't say it," she threatened, as she pumped the gas and frantically turned the key again. "I don't want to discuss it. Just pray to. The Goddess of Car Engines to help us out."
"She's a 'he,' and it's probably the battery so we should pray to Gob, God of Batteries."
"I don't care who it is, just ask for this truck not to die on us." She crossed her fingers, turned off the key, pumped the gas pedal, looked skyward, mumbled something indistinguishable, and tried the ignition again.
"Voila!" she shouted joyfully as the engine turned over. "Thank you, Gob." She grinned at Moonbeam. Triumphantly, she shifted into reverse but had barely gotten it in gear when the engine died. Panicky, she tried it again. Then again and again, each time growing more frantic.
"Mum, don't! You'll flood it!"
"Don't yell at me!" Abby snapped.
She stared straight ahead, then bit her lip and put her head down on the steering wheel.
Moonbeam didn't look at her, not wanting to know whether she was collecting her thoughts or crying. Hopefully not crying. There'd been enough of that last night. Although he had to admit he really couldn't blame her, the way all her dreams went down the toilet yesterday.
"Look, Mum," Moonbeam said quietly. "We don't have a lot of choices here. We're not walking back to Port Alberni or walking on to Parksville, so the best thing is to just wait here and I'll try and flag somebody down."
"Okay," Abby sniffed. Then after a bit, she lifted her head off the wheel and rummaged in her pocket. She pulled out a Kleenex and blew her nose. "Guess it's you and me against the world, eh?" She gave him a brave smile.
"Sure, Mum." Moonbeam turned away from her and rolled down the window so he could look back at the road. She'd said that his whole life and lately it was beginning to make him cringe. But it was no time to argue. He'd spotted headlights. A pair of small yellow dots rounding the corner at the edge of the park. Moonbeam jumped out of the truck and tore across the parking lot, but by the time he reached the highway the car had passed. British Columbia plates, driving pretty fast. Probably a local who knows the roads well. Moonbeam pulled the hood of his parka down lower over his face and decided he better stay by the edge of the road. If the car was going the speed limit, there was no way he could sprint and make it from the truck in time for a driver to see him. Especially in this rain. He stuck his hands in his pockets and waited.
He knew something like this would happen. Leaving Heather Mountain was a big, disorganized mess. She said she wanted to be up and out of there at the crack of dawn. Right. It was midafternoon before they finally left. He should have stayed in bed. Then when he said they ought to have the truck checked out in Port Alberni, she didn't want to. "We're getting such a late start, Moonbeam. It'll just take too much time, the truck will be fine. This old thing has good karma."
Right. Moonbeam glanced back at his mother sitting huddled behind the steering wheel of the old truck. It looked pitiful sitting there in the rain, piled high with all their stuff. It had been tricky packing her loom with bags of rice and beans all around it to protect it, then covering everything with that raggedy brown tarp. The old Toyota pickup was as battered as its faded bumper sticker, arms are made for hugging, but the words were still readable and the truck still ran, at least until now. So much for the good karma.
She was always talking about stuff like that, karma and omens and the way the planets lined up, and also inventing Goddesses for everything. None of it did her much good. Things just never seemed to turn out very well for her. But he didn't have the heart to tell her he was secretly glad things had fallen apart at Heather Mountain.
Moonbeam stared at the empty highway. Where were all those quarter of a million tourists when they needed them? All those cars with the plates from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Why weren't they here right now, vacationing in British Columbia in this very spot, cruising through Emerald Forest Park?
Amazing how deserted this road was. It was definitely spooky out here. Moonbeam jumped, thinking he heard something on the other side of the road. Clunk..."What's that?" he whispered aloud, trying to see into the forest. He was sure he heard something in there. Sort of a hollow thumping sound...Clunk...There it was again. Probably just the wind, he told himself. A dead branch banging against a...Clunk...tree or something. Was there actually such a thing as a sasquatch? The huge, hairy, manlike creature with long arms that supposedly lives in the mountain forests on the west coast of North America. He felt a knot tightening in his stomach.
Moonbeam tried to think of something to get his mind off the clunking noise. Think about when the school was here, he told himself. Think about the time line we made about the trees to get an idea of how old they were. He had liked making that time line. It was...Clunk...cool. Some of the trees were here in A.D. 1215, over 780 years ago, making them two hundred and three hundred years old when Columbus...Clunk...came to North America...Clunk...And in the winter of 1535, when Jacques Cartier's...Clunk...ship was frozen in the ice at the mouth of the St. Charles at Quebec City, some of...Clunk...the trees were already giants...Clunk.
Moonbeam spotted headlights again, another pair of two small yellow dots. Let's hope this is a good person, he thought. The lights got a little bigger and he forgot about the clunking noise. Actually, a medium person would do, as long as they have jumper cables. But what if? He swallowed hard, feeling his fingers grow numb with fear. What if it was a rotten person? An evil scum. The headlights got larger and he saw the headlines on the Alberni Valley Times. On Victoria's Time Colonist. On the Vancouver Sun. It was a big, big story.
* * *
MOTHER AND TEENAGE SON
BUTCHERED BY BAD GUY
* * *
Abby Dawson, 35, most recently of the Happy Children of the Good Earth Compound near Heather Mountain, and her son Moonbeam, almost 16, were found chopped up in Emerald Forest Park by Constable David Eyre. "It was a real mess," said Eyre, "especially what was left of the kid." The horrible bad guy is still at large.
The lights loomed larger and larger, and Moonbeam saw an old RV coming slowly toward him through the rain. The camper's probably full of body parts he thought, glancing back toward the truck at Abby.
Abby rolled down the truck window and stuck her arm out, wildly waving it. "Flag it, Moonbeam!"
Moonbeam raised his hand tentatively, half hoping the driver would decide he really didn't mean it, that he was just standing by the side of the road exercising, doing tai chi or something, and would drive right by. But the headlights got large, and Moonbeam stood still, caught in the lights like a deer as the RV slowly turned toward him and drove into the parking lot.
Abby leaped out of the truck and ran over to Moonbeam as the driver rolled down his window.
"Need some help?" A sandy-haired guy who looked about forty stuck his head out the window. Clean-shaven, looked okay, very presentable for a serial killer.
"Got cables? We think it's our battery." Abby looked up at the guy like he was the prince himself who'd just galloped up on a white horse.
"Sure, let's see what we can do."
He drove across the lot and pulled in next to the truck while Abby and Moonbeam walked back to meet him.
"I'm Harvey Hattenbach." He held out his hand.
Watch out, you might be shaking the hand of a serial killer.
"And this is my son, Moonbeam."
Not one word about my name, slime bucket.
"Hi." Moonbeam clenched his teeth as he shook the guy's hand, trying not to imagine it dripping with blood.
Harvey grabbed the handle of the back door of the RV. "Got my cables in here, if I can find them in this mess." He grinned and climbed in the RV. "Say, want a cuppa tea? You both look soaked."
"Sounds good." Abby smiled sweetly. "What do you think, Moonbeam?"
"We don't have time. After we get the jump, the battery's got to get charged and it'll take a couple of hours." Moonbeam picked up a stone and threw it in frustration, wishing he didn't always have to be the one to figure everything out.
"Think we should go back to Port Alberni?"
"Of course." He pulled the hood of his parka down lower over his forehead. "We can camp at China Creek and get the ferry. First thing tomorrow."
"We'll be up at the crack of dawn," Abby said earnestly.
"Yeah, right." Moonbeam lifted the hood of the truck and Harvey attached the cables to their battery. "Get in so you can try it, Mum."
The engine turned over on the third try and Moonbeam took the cables off and handed them to Harvey. "Thanks a lot."
Abby rolled down the window. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate this." She looked up at him, her gray-green eyes sparkling and her voice low and sweet.
"I'll follow you to Port, just in case you have any more problems." He leaned close to the window.
"I'm sure we'll be fine." Moonbeam buckled his seat belt.
"That's really nice of you!" Abby smiled, surprised. "Are you sure?"
"No problem. There's the McDonald's next to the station. I'm about ready for a bite anyway."
Maybe he's a vampire. Moonbeam scowled, folded his arms over his chest, and slumped in the seat.
"See you soon!" Abby waved and backed out of the lot, then waited to get on the highway until Harvey pulled up behind her. "This is so nice of him," she said, looking back in the rearview mirror, her voice gushing with gratitude.
"A lot of people would help out, Mum."
Okay, so he wasn't a serial killer, but we're not talking some kind of hero here. Moonbeam sighed as she pulled out on the highway. Here they were, going backwards! But as he thought about it, he realized they'd only be delayed a day. Knowing the way she went about things, it could have been a lot worse, he decided. A lot worse.
He hadn't hated their life on Heather Mountain. It was better than the crummy apartment they had in Victoria, where people banged on the cheesy walls and you could hear people yelling and TVs blaring. But more and more life in the great outdoors was too small for him. Just like their cabin. She thought it was fine for the two of them, but a couple of years ago Moonbeam felt cramped. He wanted more privacy. (There had one been too many "Oops! Sorry, Moonbeam! "s as she barged in on him.) So he and his friend Meadow MacLaine, who was a good carpenter, built a separate space behind the stove. There was no way it could ever be called a room of his own; the space was tiny, more like a berth on a train. But it had the essential architectural feature: a wall between him and his mother.
The other thing that was too small was the group of people. There weren't enough kids and a lot of them were younger. There weren't enough girls, to be specific. The Happy Children of the Good Earth commune had a drastic shortage of girls his age. The only one even close to his age was Starlight Lewis, and it was embarrassing to call twelve close. So this past year Moonbeam and Meadow, who felt the same way, took every chance they got to go into Port Alberni, town of 20,000, the nearest place of any size. Usually almost every week someone from the commune had to go in for something. Getting teeth fixed, tires patched, and truck parts seemed to be the more common reasons. Moonbeam and Meadow would hang around the video store or McDonald's, or go to the cafe where they had a TV over the lunch counter and watch whatever was on. Didn't matter what. Although the main reason they left Heather Mountain every chance they had wasn't to look at TV. It was to see girls.
* * *
Abby pulled into the station at the corner of Redford Road and the Port Alberni Highway, and Harvey drove up next to her. "I'll meet you at McDonald's." He pointed across the road. |
Abby rolled down the window. "I can't thank you enough," she gushed. "We'll be there in a few minutes." She waved as he pulled out of the station.
The gas station guy had them pull the truck into the garage and told them to come back in about an hour.
"This is working out great. It should be ready just about I the time we're through eating." Abby smiled as they walked over to McDonald's.
Harvey was sitting at a table by the back windows. Abby waved to him, then read the menu over the counter. While she was looking up, Moonbeam was looking around, scanning the place the way he always did when he came here from Heather Mountain. He had gotten very good at knowing where girls hung out, and this McDonald's was one of the prime locations. Moonbeam spotted a table of girls about his age. Good, at least there'd be some decent scenery. Fine looking girls. No, he definitely would not mind living in Port Alberni, he thought as his eyes darted over the girls. Although he didn't dwell...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Topeka Bindery. School & Library Binding. Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Seller Inventory # 2593642703
Book Description Topeka Bindery, 1998. School & Library Binding. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG0613171969