272 pages; published February 2013
It is the first day of ninth grade and Celia Door has just one thing on her mind – revenge. Over the summer, Celia has become Dark, an isolated tower of rage ready to mete out just dessert on the evil and popular Sandy Firestone for the truly awful thing she did to Celia in the eighth grade. The complication here is Drake, the interesting new boy who chooses Celia to be his friend, hear his confidences, and who may bring a dangerous measure of happiness to break up her Darkness.
I’m not sure what attracted me more to this book – the fact that the author’s last name was Finneyfrock (awesome); that the cover blurb was an enthusiastic endorsement by my beloved Sherman Alexie; or that I loved the cover shot of the combat boots and gingham dress.
Whatever it was, I’m glad I grabbed it. Celia Door and Drake are fun and funny together. Yet, they are really having troubles. Celia is being nastily bullied by the nasty popular girl and her best attempts to come up with a plan for revenge are just heartbreakingly ineffective. Celia’s parents are in the throes of a “trial separation” which she hates without understanding at all what happened. Drake has been sent to Hershey, Pennsylvania to start high school because he didn’t get into a good one at home in New York City. And although he is witty and urbane and handsome, he is hopelessly in love with his best friend back home who may or not be gay.
Freshman year is not starting off well.
Celia Door is also a writer, filling a poetry journal with Dark, quirky poetry alongside her charts of doomed revenge plots. Here’s one:
HERSHEY HIGH AS BODY
The classroom bell like a slow heartbeat
pumps students through the hallways of your veins.
Your cafeteria growls and your doors close
like eyelids at night when you sleep.
What do you dream about, high school?
Do you dream that you are a hospital,
keeping us alive with your textbook-heart monitors,
your basketball court, an emergency room?
When I fall down in the hallway,
my books spraying over the floor like vomit,
you wish you could pull your mortar arms
out of the earth and pick me up.
But you can’t help me. No one can.