It’s RELEASE DAY of ALL BOY by Mia Kerick! YA LGBTQ fiction with romance.

It’s release day of All Boy, Callie and Jayden’s love story. I’m publishing with an excellent new company, Lakewater Press.

It’s been a long road to the publication of this turbulent love story. First, I queried it to agents and had a lot of interest, but eventually I decided to go with a new publisher, as the owner had done some incredible editing work for me on The Princess of Baker Street. I hoped that she would examine All Boy with her sharp editor’s eyes and help make it into a story that expressed the depth of emotion Callie and Jayden experienced. A story that would draw the reader in and not let go until the last page. She, with the help of her assistant, did this.

We felt it necessary to postpone the original publishing date, as there was some major heat going on in my author’s world. And so here we are, today.

Contained in All Boy is one of the most difficult and painful scenes I have ever written in fiction. I won’t describe the scene (you will know when you read it), but it’s the scene that came to me one night in bed and compelled me to write All Boy.

All Boy is a work of upper YA LGBTQ fiction, heavy on the angst and romance. But it is also an eye-opening book, and in that sense it is important. The two main characters experience devastating fear and pain that can’t be fully resolved because as we all know, profound injury to the heart and soul never fully goes away. But the characters endure. They grow. They learn. They survive.

Warning: You may not like Callie, at least not at first. Her life experience have taught her to be self-protective to the point of insensitive. Jayden’s struggle will make you look at people and love in a new way.

I hope you read All Boy. It is not an easy, fun-filled, light story. But it is one you will remember. I promise.

Comment contest!! I will choose one comment (by the old-fashioned method of drawing out of a hat) and the winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Mia <3

ALL BOY on AMAZON

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Callie Canter knows all about screwing up—and being screwed over. After her so-called boyfriend publicly humiliated her senior year, taking a fifth year of high school at Beaufort Hills Academy is her second chance to leave behind a painful past. But her need for social acceptance follows, and going along with the in-crowd is the difference between survival and becoming a target. Staying off the radar is top priority. So, falling for an outsider is the last thing on Callie’s “to-do” list. Too bad her heart didn’t get the memo.

With his strict, religious upbringing and former identity far away in Florida, Jayden Morrissey can finally be true to himself at Beaufort Hills Academy. But life as a trans man means keeping secrets, and keeping secrets means not getting too close to anyone. If he can just get through his fifth year unnoticed, maybe a future living as the person he was born to be is possible. Yet love is love, and when you fall hard enough, intentions crumble, plans detour, and secrets are revealed.

From multi-award-winning author Mia Kerick, comes a powerful, timely, and life-changing novel, which follows two teenagers nursing broken hearts and seeking acceptance, and who together realize running away isn’t always the answer.

It’s Release Day for The Princess of Baker Street!

When the Baker Street gang hits middle school, the princess is alone…

I have long awaited today–release day of The Princess of Baker Street. It seems like I wrote this story such a long time ago–it has been through many changes, many edits, sensitivity readers. I love the finished product of this story of two children struggling to survive in a world that doesn’t feel safe. A world that, for them, is at times scary and dangerous.

The cover is perfect. The two sneakers, both timeless in style, and in many ways the same-are different at the same time. One is bright and clean; the other worn and soiled. Opposites, yet similar. The appearance of the sneakers gives you a clue as to the teens who wear them, but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story of the children in part one of the book–Joey and Eric.

I was inspired to write this novel by stories of the many trans teens I have read about in the news and seen on Twitter and Facebook who attempted to, and in many cases succeeded in, taking their own lives. It seemed that story after story, each a tragedy, bombarded me. I cried-and then I researched. I read about the high percentage of trans teens who- for various and complicated reasons- felt that leaving the world was a better option than staying. I wanted to write a story that showed the pain, but also offered hope. And showed that life gets better…

What makes The Princess of Baker Streetunusual, though, is that it is written from the perspective of Joey’s teenage neighbor, Eric. He is severely neglected, and as he watches Joey struggle at school and at home, his own life is falling apart. The language is that of a young teenager-even in his internal thoughts. Readers have reported that it takes a few pages to get used to. But they also say they see the events from Eric’s eyes. What they see is real and it is painful. But in the end, there is hope.

I hope you check out The Princess of Baker Street. I cried when I wrote it and maybe you will cry, too. But some stories need to be told. Kids need to find themselves in stories like these. And others, who are not like Joey but know what it is to struggle, need to read these stories. Maybe The Princess of Baker Street will help to open our hearts.

Pick up a copy today!

YA Female Characters: Do they have to be likeable (24/7) to be epic?

I recently wrote a distinctive teenage female character named Cady LaBrie. She’s not what you’d call “sweet.” She’s definitely not the picture of human kindness. She’s not knock ‘em dead gorgeous, as many female protagonists of books and movies seem to be. (Not that beauty is a redeeming characteristic.) And Cady’s certainly not selfless. If you get to know her, you may not like her… To be honest, sometimes I didn’t, and I created her.

 

Question: Is it necessarily a bad thing to dislike a female protagonist in YA fiction? Or is it okay to recognize her weaknesses, possess a healthy respect for her strengths, and still not be particularly fond of her?

Cady LaBrie is a fierce female character. Despite a secret desire to fit in, she accepts that she doesn’t and probably never will. Unwilling to forfeit the status as her parents’ “perfect child,” Cady has long refused to break the rules—she won’t attend parties or drive too fast or leave her homework undone. But even as she’s following the rules, she can be ruthless. Cady refuses to bond with her twin brother when he returns from rehab because the potential for hurt, if he relapses, is too great a risk to her fragile heart. And she breaks a promise to the homeless boy she and her BFF Cooper briefly take under their wing—for the purpose of completing the items on the Weekend Bucket List—because she sees him as a threat to a possible romance with Cooper.

But within the safety zone of her longtime friendship with Cooper Murphy, Cady is something of a ringleader. She possesses the initiative to dream big and the power to set her ideas into motion. Some of her plans may not seem particularly over the top to you. For example, she planned an acceptable alternative to the junior prom—both Cady and Cooper refuse to dance—that featured eighties music streamed on a boom box, an oversized bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a spectacular evening view of Tamarack Lake, all to be consumed by her strict 10PM curfew. But for a small-town girl with seriously overprotective parents, Cady’s a mover and a shaker. Once a notion takes root in her brain, there’s no yanking it out. No matter how hard you pull.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Cady may be fierce, but she’s not strong all the time. Sometimes she’s scared and needy, which accounts for a measure of her power over Cooper. I think of Cady as a paradox of strength and fragility. Most of the time, she’s opinionated and brave enough to voice her beliefs, if only to her audience of one teenage boy, and later in the book, two. By being bossy, and even intimidating at times, Cady negotiates difficult and painful interactions at home and at school. She’s come away with the realization that the best defensereally can be a good offense. So, sure, sometimes Cady’s prickly, but other times she’s soft. Cooper lives in fear of her rare moments of tearfulness. I’ll put it this way: Cady’spower faucet runs hot and cold, always hard to predict, leaving a reader wary.

 

In her alternating behavior—cruel and then kind and then cruel again—Cady proves that she is the polar opposite of the traditional, well-behaved “perfect” female character. But then, why should she be? (Yes, we’re back to the original question.) Are female characters obliged to play by the rules? Try looking at it this way: Have you met a teenage girl who doesn’t sometimes recklessly strive for what she wants, even when she knows that it isn’t what she needs? Have you encountered a female teen who doesn’t, on occasion, behave selfishly? Is every female teenager you know a fountain of sensitivity? (Is anybody?) Have you closely related to a teenage girl who hasn’t cut you with sarcasm?

I’ve raised (and am still raising) four teenagers—three girls and a boy—and they have always been as fantastic as they are infuriating. AndIwas a teenage girl once… I still remember how Mom pulled her hair out regularly, but loved me just the same. Teenagers, both boys and girls, are constantly in flux, learning about life through doing things the right way and then screwing it all up quite monumentally. They’re not supposed to be consistent, and we shouldn’t expect them to be perfect.

Time for anew question: Would you even wantto read a book about a perfect teenage girl?

As readers, Cady’s deepest thoughts are accessible to us. And believe me, they’re not always pretty. Beyond that, her actions are, at times—to phrase it delicately—inelegant. Sometimes she stands up and pulls off a good deed, and other times she runs and hides from the hard stuff. We, as readers, see it all.And we judge her—it’s our job. Cady makes a lot of mistakes, so our jobs as judges keep us busy.

 

If we’re fair judges, we’ll note that Cady’s incredible fear of loss drives her to err—to hurt people and to hide from them so that her heart is always just out of reach. Overcoming this intense fear is Cady’s task. But this is also what is most awesome about Cady’s character.Of the three protagonists in the story, the imperfect Cady has greatest potential for growth. And yes, this puts a positive spin on her behavior, which at the start of the story is sometimes truly crappy.

I’m not going to give away exactly how successful Cady is at achieving human growth. (No spoilers from me.) But she tries like heck, and it’s extremely uncomfortable for her. Okay, she hates every second of it. She’s scared to take a risk that could humiliate her, leaving her more alone than ever. But, like I said before, Cady is the kind of person who sets a goal and gets things done.

And sometimes I wonder whether we, as readers, would be more forgiving of Cady if she were a boy. Maybe that old cliché would filter our thoughts—“boys will be boys”—and we’d excuse her bossiness, her avoidance of emotion, her sarcasm, her inelegance. What do you think? Can male characters get away with more “imperfect” behavior?

 

The bottom line is found in this last line of interrogation: Why do we read YA novels?

Do we read YA merely to reaffirm that a nice, sweet, pretty, and well-behaved female characterisquite likeable, and therefore “a good character” in “a good book?” Is a book in which the main female character pisses you off or makes you cry or roll your eyes a lot“a bad character” in “a bad book?” I don’t see it that way. I read YA novels to meet people I don’t know—teenagers I want so badly to hug on page twenty-seven and growl at on page thirty-two. I don’t want to be able to predict every singsong line of pleasant dialogue by a succession of flawless characters. And I crave for damaged characters and a twisting plot to whisk me off to places where a (figurative) knife slices into my gut as well as toplaces I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A character like Cady LaBrie guarantees that I will feel something as I read… and that I will wonder. I don’t have to like everything about her to get psyched when she speaks up at moments I wouldn’t. I don’t have to agree with her entire philosophy of life when she rudely confronts her best friend, harasses the sweet stranger, or backs down like a coward from bullies. Maybe I cringe at her choices, but it’s because I’m feeling something more than “well, that’s nice.” Cady isn’t good or bad. But she isa work in progress—a character who grows before your eyes and makes you consider what you’d do in her shoes.

You can meet Cady LaBrie in my recent YA fiction release from Duet Books, The Weekend Bucket List. Fair warning: you may want to brace yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

VOCABULARY LESSONS with Chance and Emily of Mia Kerick’s LOVE SPELL

 

The language used in Love Spell is colorful. Which puts it mildly.

Chance calls his BFF Emily the Ms. Merriam-Webster of Improvised Language. In other words, she makes up words.After she creates words she uses them constantly and expects Chance to do the same. And he does. Believe me, he does!

And so for today’s vocabulary lesson, let us focus on a series of Emily’s finest words:

First, there’s PIE-STROLL. Pie-stroll is defined as something that’s easy to do, even easier than a cakewalk.

In a sentence: I find singing the blues to be a pie-stroll when compared with singing opera.

Next, is FUCKER-NELLY.  Fucker-nelly is used consistently throughout Love Spell. Chance, at first struggles with its proper usage, but in the end concludes that it is an adverb meaning extremely.

Here is fucker-nelly in a sentence: “Your new camo skinny jeans are fucker-nelly awesome!”

And we have DOOZA-PALOOZA.  Unfortunately, you have one and I have one; it’s defined as a humongous problem.

Today’s dooza-palooza is straightening my hair since the power is out. (Get the picture?)

YAPPER-HALT:
 In short, yapper-halt is a command that means shut up. No, not polite. But at times quite necessary.

Used in a sentence: “Yapper-halt with the Trump quotations, please—I’ve heard enough!”

Next, comes SMEXY.  Smexy is the essence of what Chance longs to be: a person displaying witty intelligence while personifying smoking hotness.

“In your humble opinion, which blood-sucker in Vampire Diariesis the ultimate in smexy?”(I suppose we could say “the smexiest.”)

Now for a practical word: CURIFIED. We’ve all been curified, a time or two, although curified moments are not usually life’s best. It is defined as curious combined with horrified.

You’d like to hear it used in a sentence? Of course. It would be my pleasure.

Curified, I gazed at the accident on the side of the highway; I couldn’t not look.

Next is POOPATUDE. You know when you’re just not your cheerful self—you’re feeling mean and pissed-off, and maybe slightly sarcastic. Well, that’s because you’re displaying classic poopatude, a nasty attitude.

In a sentence: I’ve had enough of your poopatude, dude—do I have to tickle you to get you to smile? (I even added a rhyme for you.)

Let’s look at FRET-LIBERATO. Chance makes a guess at this new Emily-word when she introduces it to him, and he gets close but isn’t right on the nose. Fret-liberato is simply a creative term for relieved.

You’d like to hear it used in a sentence?

I can’t explain to you my fret-liberato when Mrs. Mansfield decided against giving us the pop quiz… I was so not prepared for it!

And finally, STUPI-BOGGLED.  Chance finds himself feeling this way quite regularly. Stupi-boggled is a combination word—stupified combined with mind-boggled.

Kate was stupi-boggled to learn that her BFF was her Secret Santa—she’d never expected it!

Thanks for paying such close attention to today’s vocabulary lesson. I hope you’ll check out my rerelease of this funny, crazy, sentimental story, Love Spell.  You will laugh. You probably won’t cry, but there is a fucker-nelly remote chance of it. And you’ll be stupi-boggled, if not absolutely curified, by the lengths to which Chance goes to capture the heart of the boy of his dreams.

Pick up a copy of LOVE SPELL today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY CRUNCHY LIFE: A BOOK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

My Crunchy Life: a Book about Human Rights

By Mia Kerick

Hello, I’m Mia Kerick. My latest YA LGBTQ fiction release, My Crunchy Life,releases on June 26 from Harmony Ink Press. It is a story about identity and Human Rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We gather tonight in the spirit of love and selflessness, and with the solemn hope that our efforts to serve the community will be sufficient to keep hope alive for those who struggle to obtain the rights inherent to all human beings.”

Yes, it’s quite a mouthful. And it’s what the members of the Rights for Every Human Organization, better known as REHO, recite while holding hands in a tight circle at the beginning of each meeting in the Community House basement.

When Kale arrived for his first meeting, he met citizens concerned with fighting discrimination based on religion, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, and more. By listening to their individual stories, his eyes are opened to the suffering of those around him, and he rightly questions the legitimacy of his own reason for attending. Later in the meeting, Kale meets Julian, who he assumes is attending REHO because he is a gay teenage boy and wants to fight for gay rights. Kale has no idea that Julian is really Julia, a teenage girl who is living as a boy until she’s ready to leave public school for online school and transition to female.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Rights are defined by The United Nations in this way:

“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.”

 

My main reason for writing My Crunchy Lifewas to examine teenage questions of identity, which introduces the topic of Human Rights. My hope is that readers will meet Kale—who is struggling with how he fits into the world as a teenage boy—and Julian—who is struggling too, because his body doesn’t match his gender identity. (FYI: Throughout most of the book Julian chooses to live and present as male, which matches his physical body. Although he knows that his true self is female, he refers to himself as a boy temporarily, so I refer to him as a boy during this period. His gender status changes when Julian transitions to Julia toward the end of the story.) I hope readers gain understanding of both boys’ identity issues—to accept them as real and, through getting to know them as characters, experience a sense of compassion toward them. Readers will likely recognize in each of the boys a common humanity, and will realize that no matter how different someone may at first seem, they are more like each other than unlike. This recognition will encourage readers to be less harshly judgmental and instead more open-minded to human differences. And so My Crunchy Life, a book about teenage personal identity and gender identity, leads to the embracing of Human Rights.

I also think readers will experience part of this journey into acceptance along with Kale. Kale grows attached to Julian, first as a friend and then as a romantic interest, which causes him to question his own sexuality. Attracted to another boy, Kale decides that he must be gay. And he is accepting of this. But Julian doesn’t share his intended gender transition with Kale, and when he drops out of school— according to his plan—and reemerges several weeks later at the REHO meeting as Julia, Kale is furious. At first, he is unable to accept Julia as female, mainly because it makes Kale uncomfortable—after all, why is he attracted to Julia, the girl, if he is gay? He again must question himself and his sexuality. As Kale grows to accept and embrace Julia, the reader travels the path beside him.

In My Crunchy Life,after Kale hears each of the member’s human rights concerns…

“Again, I stifle an urge to clap because these are all excellent reasons to be here. And then everybody in the circle is looking at me. Apparently it’s my turn to state my lofty reasons for joining the Rights for Every Human Organization and I know very well that my reason— every self-respecting hippie needs a legit cause—isn’t legitimate at all. I look around into the compassionate eyes of the REHO members and try like hell to come up with something that sounds progressive and benevolent, yet is also remotely truthful.

“I… uh… my reason for joining… is like…,” I begin, my palm sweat blending with Billy’s and the tall girl’s. And this is when I’m saved by the bell, or at a minimum, everyone is distracted from my dumbstruck state. I watch as all the eyes that were fixed on me shift toward the stairs. I feel compelled to turn my head too, to learn what has caused this ass-saving diversion. I see a small, dark-haired person posing on the bottom step, hip jutted out and arms forming question marks in the air.

He glances around, yawns like he’s bored, and says, “Please tell me this is the human rights group, ’cause I’ve been all over the upstairs of this godforsaken place, and the only other creatures I came across were dust bunnies.” His pompous voice brings out goose bumps on my chest, which is unexpected.

As you can see, Julian is a late arrival, but he too is asked to relate his reason for attending the human rights group meeting…

“T-tell us th-the reasons you are h-h-here p-please,” urges the guy named Tom, who stutters unless he’s singing—which he confided just before the start of the meeting is what had caused him to be a subject of discrimination and cruelty when he was in high school, except in chorus.

Julian lifts his chin and glares at the group around him.

“I’ve been told there’s nothing about any one of us that makes us less than anybody else, because we’ve got these things called rights— and we’re due them because we’re people.” Julian’s gaze scans his spellbound audience, but he focuses in on me, maybe because I’m the only one in the group who’s close to his age. “I’m here because I want to change the world for people who are LGBTQ.” We’re staring at each other now—it’s like the most intense staring contest I’ve ever… lost. Yeah, I look away first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you check out My Crunchy Lifeand take the Human Rights journey with Kale. He learns a lot about himself as a son, a cousin, a friend, a boyfriend, and a Human Rights activist.

MY CRUNCHY LIFE by Mia Kerick GOT AN AWESOME KIRKUS REVIEW!!

Purchasing a Kirkus Review is a big decision, as it is VERY COSTLY and EXTREMELY HONEST. (I’ve come out on both ends of the Kirkus Review and the less-than-stellar review stings as much as the wonderful review elates.) I decided My Crunchy Life was special and worth the expense. I’m so glad I did.

“A FUNNY, HEARTWARMING YA NOVEL.” ~Kirkus Reviews

My Crunchy Life’s Kirkus Review was stellar from top to bottom! Here it is…

And here’s the blurb:

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

 

I’ve celebrated by making some (bragging -#sorrynotsorry) promo images.

 

 

I hope you check out My Crunchy Life.

MIA <3

Here’s the Amazon link.

THE WEEKEND BUCKET LIST IS BORN!!!

I’m thrilled to say that my first book for Duet Books, The Weekend Bucket List, is born!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t an easy gestation, metaphorically speaking. For the first time, I wrote a work of general fiction, and for the first time, some of my regular romance readers were left unsatisfied.

They felt the book was incomplete without romance.

But I have a goal and it is to endorse and embrace another important kind of love: friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a teen, I missed out on the fullest friendship experience; I was focused on finding Mr. Right. I went through LOTS of Mr. Rights until I found Mr. Mia, but I never put the effort into finding Mr./Ms. BFF. Yes, I have had my share of acquaintances, but rarely have I experienced a beloved friend (s) with whom I shared a platonic passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, there were aches and pains and three-star pre-reviews, which didn’t live up to my hopes and maybe even my expectations, but I embrace my story of complex and passionate friendships with very flawed characters. Like Cody, below… Teens need stories that glorify FRIENDSHIP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I hope you choose to give it a read.

Because we all need friends.

<3 Mia

COVER REVEAL of MY CRUNCHY LIFE by Mia Kerick, June 26 release Harmony Ink Press

Today I’d like to reveal the cover of my June 26 YA LGBTQ release from Harmony Ink Press called MY CRUNCHY LIFE.

 

What’s it about? Well here’s the blurb:

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

 

Who designed the awesome cover?

The talented Aaron Anderson!!

Here’s an excerpt:

Kale (at local REHO—Rights for Every Human Organization—meeting)

Friday 8:00 p.m.

Where is he… where is he… where is he…. Where. Is. He?

At lunch on Monday, two days before he told me he tried to kill himself by downing a bag of pain medicine, Julian told me, “So I guess I’ll see you Friday night.” Not that the news impacted me in such a way that made it hard for me to fall asleep for the past several nights, because I couldn’t stop picturing Julian semiconscious in his tree house. It didn’t. I’ve been having trouble falling asleep because I’m struggling in Spanish III, that’s all.

So why do I care that he’s not here?

“We gather tonight in the spirit of love and selflessness, and with the solemn hope that our efforts to serve the community will be sufficient to keep hope alive for those who struggle to obtain the rights inherent to all human beings.”

Tonight, instead of doing the standard hand-holding thing, we’ve crossed our arms in front of ourselves, per Judy’s instructions, and are grasping each other’s hands this way.

Welcome to Variations in Hand-holding 101.

“I thought it might be fun,” Judy says, unsuccessfully fighting her urge to giggle, “if we started our meeting tonight by passing a hand squeeze around the circle, as we bond over our common concern—ridding the world of all forms of discrimination.” She peeks around the circle with a sheepish look on her face. “It might be fun… I think… so I’ll start.”

I look up and sharply to the left in an effort to catch eyes with the very tall girl who is again holding my hand. When she glances down at me and I send her a look that clearly asks, “Are we at a human rights organization meeting or in kindergarten class?” But she quickly shrugs and looks away, totally sold on this faux bonding technique. I’m left to wait for the squeeze to come my way so I can pass it on and become one with these relative strangers. Before the squeeze makes its way all the way around the circle, though, our meeting is interrupted.

“I’m late. So sue me.” Julian stops at the bottom of the stairs and strikes a dramatic pose—his right hip jutting out to the side while he scrutinizes his fingernails.

I try to ignore my relief when I see him, but that would be like trying to ignore a tropical cyclone blowing past the tiki hut I’m trying to sleep in on the beach. In other words, it doesn’t work.

“Oh, Julian, hello, and welcome back to REHO. We’re so happy you could make it tonight. Please, join the circle. You’re going to need to cross your arms, though.” Judy warns, and her face is beet red. “We’re passing around a hand squeeze in the name of bonding. It’s a little trickier with your arms crossed.” She waits while Julian steps into the circle between tall girl and me. “I’ll start over again, how does that sound?”

When Julian glances up at me, I see “what the fuck is this?” in his eyes, and I decide Judy has succeeded in her goal, if not in exactly the manner she’d intended. Julian and I have bonded over what we both consider to be a juvenile activity. Or better yet, a stupid exercise in attempting to force emotional connection between strangers.

I receive a sharp squeeze to my right hand and immediately and obediently send it off to Julian.

“Flirt.” He says it so quietly I’m not quite sure he actually said it. Maybe I just wish he said it. And he doesn’t look up at me again until it’s time for us to scatter the throw pillows on the floor. “Get me the purple one,” he says with a nod.

“Huh?” Did Julian just demand I fetch him a pillow? And after suggesting I’m flirting with him? Was I flirting with him?

“The purple pillow. I want that one.” I look down into dark eyes that are sparkling persuasively. Or is it… is that glitter shimmering on his eyelids?

Side note: Glitter used to be made of glass and metal but now it’s mainly made of plastic. It’s a decoration that reflects light, causing it to look like it is actually sparkling.

How on earth do I even know this?

“Wait here and I’ll get it for you.” I turn and rush toward the closet with the rest of the commoners, shaking my head at my eagerness to please the guy.

From behind me I hear Julian’s voice. “I knew you’d see it my way.”

Can I preorder it?

Sure.

 

 

 

Don’t miss MY CRUNCHY LIFE!!

MARCH FOR OUR LIVES, March 24, 2018

I’m at my daughter, Demi’s, Senior Project Weekend called Bad Self Portraits at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. But I’d like to offer my virtual participation in MARCH FOR OUR LIVES. Kids have smooch to say. And I am listening.

Thanks for organizing such a momentous event, teens. It will bring change.