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What if, for once, the losers won out against the über-cools? GeekGirl gets GreekGod? It'd turn the school upside down. But that's what Zoe's World, a website that Eberly's eighth-grade girls check out daily, is suggesting. Only Anna, Eve, and Syd know that the cards—the mysterious tarot deck elderly Mrs. Rosemont left Anna (along with a psycho cat, Mouli) are responsible. Or may be responsible...if you believe in that sort of thing.
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Mariah Fredericks is the author of the bestselling novel The True Meaning of Cleavage, which Meg Cabot called "Laugh-out-loud funny and way twisted!" She is also the author of Head Games, Crunch Time, and two previous books in the In the Cards series, Love and Fame.
Mariah accepts that cats are her superior in every way and would never dream of insulting one by trying to own it. However, she has been reading tarot cards since she was a teenager, and while she knows that it is lame to believe in fortune-telling, her readings keep coming true, so she keeps doing them. She has even written a tarot guide called The Smart Girl's Guide to Tarot.
She lives with her husband, son, and basset hound in Jackson Heights, New York. Visit her online at www.mariahfredericks.com or www.myspace.com/mariahfredericks.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Anna's To-Do List * Tuesday, September 22
1. Attend Act Now rally.
2. Try to sing off book in chorus. (Say something nice to Bridget?)
3. Ask Mr. Fegelson for an extension on biology project.
4. Water Mr. Kaiser's plants.
5. Walk the Dunphys' dog.
6. Get Mom to adopt Mrs. Rosemont's cats.
Does everyone think about bizarre things when they're brushing their teeth, or is it just me? The day after Mrs. Rosemont dies, I'm squooshing toothpaste in my mouth when I think, What is dead, anyway?
Yesterday Mrs. Rosemont was here -- and now she's not. But what does that mean, except I won't ever see her again?
Is she just nothing? Or is she a spirit, floating around somewhere?
Part of me thinks she's a spirit. Because I can't believe she's gone. She doesn't feel gone. My mom told me last night that Mrs. Rosemont died in the hospital, but I don't feel the least bit sad. It's only when I think about her cats -- Beesley, Tatiana, and Mouli, lost and missing their human -- that I get upset.
Which is terrible. When someone dies, you should be sad about them.
I spit, then wonder, So, if I died tomorrow, would anybody care?
My mom and dad would definitely freak. Russell would demand he get my room. Eve would be psyched, because it'd be all macabre and she could wear black and flip out. But then she'd get tired of it and move on to something else. Syd would be sad, though. Genuinely sad. And they'd probably do something at school, have an assembly, tell people it was okay to cry if they wanted to.
But I'm not sure how many people would cry. More likely, they'd be like, Anna? Anna who? Oh, her. Yeah, she was...okay.
My little brother Russell is waiting for me at the door. He has two pencils stuck up his nostrils. Today, apparently, he is a walrus.
Russell is seven years old, but he's been strange since the day he was born. This doesn't seem to bother most people, for example, my parents, who you'd think would be a little worried that their only son lives on a diet of tuna fish and boogers. Just the fact that he's usually pretending to be some kind of animal should raise a red flag, right? I once looked up the traits of a psychotic personality. Russell had almost every single one. I told my mother, but she said, "He's just trying to be funny, Anna. Let him have his thing." Which made me wonder, Do I have a thing? And if so, what is it?
On the way to school I keep thinking about Mrs. Rosemont. This is the first day she isn't here, the first day she's missing. Everything that happens from now on she won't know about. And yet we're all just going along without her.
Once she gave me a piece of butterscotch candy, and I didn't eat it because it was old and kind of sticky. But she acted like it was this big deal, like she wouldn't give this candy to anyone but me. Now I wish I'd eaten it. Even though I hate butterscotch.
As we wait for the light, Russell sways and snorts and claps his hands like they're flippers. I tell him, "Walruses smell. Walruses get fat and roll over on baby walruses and crush them." He immediately starts shrieking like a baby walrus being squished.
I will have to talk to my mother. Russell is way too casual about death.
When we get to school, Eve is waiting for me on the steps. Today she's wearing her CUTE MAKES ME GAG T-shirt. It has a picture of a kitten and a red banned circle on it. Now, if Eve died, everybody at school would remember her. I don't know if they'd cry a lot, but they'd all have an Eve story. Remember the time she farted at the mime show? Remember when she made Ms. DeLisi cry in English class? Or the summer she chopped off all her hair? Sometimes I worry that I'm too tame to be Eve's friend.
As we go into school, I say, "Did you hear about Mrs. Rosemont?"
"Why would I hear about Mrs. Rosemont?"
"Because she died."
Eve shrugs. "Well, she was like a hundred and nine."
"Uh, hello, old woman I met twice now dead, I'm supposed to be all boohoo?" Eve sees my face, says, "Okay, okay. Sorry. God, you like...care about everything."
Annoyed, I say, "I don't care about everything, but she's dead, you know? Have a little respect."
Eve puts her head on my shoulder, which is her real way of saying she's sorry. "It's Act Now. It's making me borderline postal."
"I get that," I say as we head up the stairs to assembly. Because I do. Eberly, our school, is heavily into "doing things." Penny drives, donating food, cleaning up the park. Our principal, Ms. Kenworthy, has a sign on her door: A GOOD CITIZEN IS AN ACTIVE CITIZEN. So every fall they kick off the year with a big Act Now rally to tell everyone what events are planned and how they can get involved.
Which sounds great, but sometimes I wonder if Ms. Kenworthy really knows what goes on at this school. She might tell us we're all the same and not to look down on anyone, but the fact is, there are a lot of kids at Eberly who live to look down on people. They wouldn't have it any other way. It's absolutely understood: There's a top ruling clique, made up of the über-cool. You have to at least be rich and at least be hot -- so forget it for me and Eve right there (although I think Eve is very pretty, even if she isn't skinny-skinny and has her hair all cut up Goth style). These kids make fun of people for not wearing designer clothes, so it's a little hard to imagine them caring about the homeless.
Then, on the other end, there're the freaks, the lowest of the low. It's not as obvious how you get to be a freak. It's not about being ugly or strange or not having money -- although those things help. What really does it is if you're targeted by the über-cool; if they decide to make you their little joke, you've had it. And that could happen to anybody; people try very hard at Eberly to stay out of the Freak Zone, which usually means joining in on the torture of existing freaks.
This is why I'm not sure if Ms. Kenworthy has the least clue. She should. All she has to do is look out
and see how everyone's sitting. Über-cools like Chris Abernathy and his Cro-Magnonic bud Kyle are, of course, near the P&Ps (what Eve calls the "pretty and perfects") like Elissa Maxwell and Alexa Roth. Whereas Crazy Nelson Kobliner is sitting all the way off to the side, as is Planet Janet Epstein. (Janet's a little...heavy.) If Ms. Kenworthy did take the time to look, she'd see Chris pitching a balled-up Chinese menu at Janet right now. She'd see Elissa giggling and pointing at Sara Reynolds's hand-me-down sweater.
She'd also see Declan Kelso, as well as every girl in school staring at Declan Kelso. Declan is, without question, the hottest guy at Eberly. And not just in the eighth grade, either. I bet there are sophomores who would date Declan.
And what's really funny is that up until this year, Declan was a major freak. Not even a freak -- a geek. You know Ark-Ark on Ovidian Planet? The dorky alien who's always screwing up? That's what Declan looked like. People actually called him "Ark-Ark." They knocked his books out of his arms, drew on his clothes with pen, and repeated whatever he said in a retarded voice until he almost cried. Some people found it quite hilarious.
But this year, when he came back to school, nobody recognized him. He was taller, wider -- "babe shaped," as Lara Tierney put it. The glasses were gone, so everyone could see he had big blue eyes with the longest lashes. The brown hair was a little longer, so it didn't stick out anymore. The old Declan was always making weird jokes nobody laughed at. This Declan doesn't say much, just goes around with his head down and his hands jammed in the pockets of his army jacket.
Declan is the first major crossover from freak to über-cool, and every girl in school is crazy about him. The P&Ps think he's a babe, but geek girls think they have a chance because he used to be one of us. Naturally, everyone wants to see which girl he'll ask out, what group she'll belong to. It's a big topic of discussion on Zoe's World, a Web site run by official school gossip Zoe Friedlander. She even has a list of top candidates of future G.O.D.s (Girlfriends of Declan).
Needless to say, my name is not on the list. I'd like to say I don't care. That I find all this fuss over Declan Kelso pathetic and that, really, he's not that cute....
But I'd be lying. I think he's amazing.
Frankly, I thought Declan was cute when he was Ark-Ark. Only I wasn't going to ask Ark-Ark out, right? Serves me right, because he's way beyond me now.
Ms. Kenworthy stands up and taps the microphone. "People, could we all calm down now and give our full attention to the matter at hand?"
Despite the fact that I think she's clueless about certain things, I sort of admire Ms. Kenworthy. All the things she wants us to think about are good things, and she is very...forceful. She's the kind of person you can imagine as a statue one day.
Now she says, "We have many exciting events planned for this semester. This year for Halloween, instead of the traditional dance, we will ask students to take to the streets in costume to ask for donations to Habitat for Humanity."
Eve frowns. "Whoa, no Halloween dance? That sucks."
Over the murmur of disappointment, Ms. Kenworthy says, "For those of you saddened by the loss of the Halloween dance, you will be happy to know that at the Thanksgiving Harvest Festival, in addition to our canned goods drive, we will have the first annual Eberly Turkey Trot and then our usual holiday party just before the start of winter break."
Oh. No. The Turkey Trot? Is she kidding? If it were anybody but Ms. Kenworthy, people would boo.
Raising her voice, Ms. Kenworthy says, "Finally, as we start this school year, I'd like each of us to think about how we could be kinder to one another. Humanity can be expressed in many ways. Even by reaching out to someone we don't know and asking them to l...
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Book Description Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval, 2007. Condition: Good. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory # GRP96798044
Book Description Turtleback Books. Library Binding. Condition: Good. Book shows a small amount of wear to cover and binding. Some pages show signs of use. Seller Inventory # G1417779233I3N00
Book Description Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval, 2007. Library Binding. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG1417779233