LYLAB (Luv Ya Like A Book)
Charity: From kindergarten through sixth grade, I attended an alternative K-12 school run by the local college. Funding for the school was cut, and subsequently it closed. That meant: , which my friends and I were convinced was one step away from prison.
I started junior high alone. I wasn’t really close to the few others from my old school who also ended up there. Because I went to the alternative school, the other kids informed me, on the first day in homeroom, that I was retarded.
Is it any surprise I lived for Fridays? When the first quarter grades came out, those homeroom kids demanded to see my grades. I had no problem with that, not with As and Bs on my report card.
“You must be a brain,” one kid said, dismissing me.
And I was still just as alone.
Eventually, I made friends, and by the end of eighth grade, had a wonderful group I hung out with. But what got me through the really tough days was a “friend” I’ve never met: .
Ellen Conford has written a ton of books. (No, really, I think if you put all of them on a scale, they would weigh a ton.) But my favorites were: Dear Lovey Hart, I Am Desperate, We Interrupt This Semester For an Important Bulletin (the sequel to Lovey Hart), Seven Days to a Brand-New Me, and Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
During junior high, I read those four books over and over again. Part of me considered the girls in those books my friends, and some days, my only friends. As homage to Ellen Conford, when I revised The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, I added in an excerpt from the varsity cheerleading guide at the start of each chapter--in much the same way that Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations has excerpts from the handbook.
Darcy: My history wasn’t as traumatic as Charity’s but there were times in my life when books were my best friends too. My family moved a lot (and no, my parents weren’t gypsies). We rarely went far away, usually just to a bigger house, a better neighborhood, a nicer nearby town. But, to a kid without wheels, even a few blocks (and an invisible school district boundary line) might as well be the other side of the world.
Lucky for me, I was pretty good at …but these things had to be done delicately. It didn’t take me too many failures to figure out I couldn’t just barge my way into a group. Easing closer and closer, until it seemed like I had always been one of them was a better method. But biding my time meant spending a LOT of that time all alone. I didn’t mind too much though – I had books to keep me company.
During my years of being The New Girl, most of the books I loved best were stories about kids just like me – characters struggling to find their place in the world. Their triumphs and happy endings gave me hope. You can’t ask for a better friend than that, can you?
Both: So, in today’s young adult novels. Do you have any book friends? Charity would definitely like to hang out with all of Maureen Johnson’s heroines. Darcy would love a road trip with the gang from ’s Paper Towns – but she is not peeing in a bottle – that’s grody. The senior version from ’s Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is probably more her speed. Plus, those old folks were hilarious!
What characters would you like to hang with?