Authors: Julie Buxbaum
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2016 by Julie R. Buxbaum, Inc.
Cover art copyright © 2016 by Getty Images
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Tell me three things / by Julie Buxbaum.
ISBN 978-0-553-53564-8 (trade hc) — ISBN 978-0-553-53565-5 (library binding) — ISBN 978-0-553-53566-2 (ebook) — ISBN 978-0-399-55293-9 (intl. tr. pbk.)
[1. High schools—Fiction. 2. Schools—Fiction. 3. Moving, Household—Fiction. 4. Stepfamilies—Fiction. 5. Grief—Fiction. 6. Los Angeles (Calif.)—Fiction.] I. Title.
eBook ISBN 9780553535662
Cover design by Ray Shappell
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
For my E and L:
I love you
to the moon and back
and back and back.
even hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the Internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California, and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives. Which would be weird, an anonymous letter just popping up like that in my in-box, signed with the bizarre alias Somebody Nobody, no less, except my life has become so unrecognizable lately that nothing feels shocking anymore. It took until now—seven hundred and thirty-three whole days in which I’ve felt the opposite of normal—for me to discover this one important life lesson: turns out you can grow immune to weird.
hey there, Ms. Holmes. we haven’t met irl, and I’m not sure we ever will. I mean, we probably will at some point—maybe I’ll ask you the time or something equally mundane and beneath both of us—but we’ll never actually get to know each other, at least not in any sort of real way that matters…which is why I figured I’d email you under the cloak of anonymity.
and yes, I realize I’m a sixteen-year-old guy who just used the words “cloak of anonymity.” and so there it is already: reason #1 why you’ll never get to know my real name. I could never live the shame of that pretentiousness down.
“cloak of anonymity”? seriously?
and yes, I also realize that most people would have just texted, but couldn’t figure out how to do that without telling you who I am.
I have been watching you at school. not in a creepy way. though I wonder if even using the word “creepy” by definition makes me creepy? anyhow, it’s just…you intrigue me. you must have noticed already that our school is a wasteland of mostly blond, vacant-eyed Barbies and Kens, and something about you—not just your newness, because sure, the rest of us have all been going to school together since the age of five—but something about the way you move and talk and actually don’t talk but watch all of us like we are part of some bizarre National Geographic documentary makes me think that you might be different from all the other idiots at school.
you make me want to know what goes on in that head of yours. I’ll be honest: I’m not usually interested in the contents of other people’s heads. my own is work enough.
the whole point of this email is to offer my expertise. sorry to be the bearer of bad news: navigating the wilds of Wood Valley High School ain’t easy. this place may look all warm and welcoming, with our yoga and meditation and reading corners and coffee cart (excuse me: Koffee Kart), but like every other high school in America (or maybe even worse), this place is a freaking war zone.
and so I hereby offer up myself as your virtual spirit guide. feel free to ask any question (except of course my identity), and I’ll do my best to answer: who to befriend (short list), who to stay away from (longer list), why you shouldn’t eat the veggie burgers from the cafeteria (long story that you don’t want to know involving jock jizz), how to get an A in Mrs. Stewart’s class, and why you should never sit near Ken Abernathy (flatulence issue). Oh, and be careful in gym. Mr. Shackleman makes all the pretty girls run extra laps so he can look at their asses.
that feels like enough information for now.
and fwiw, welcome to the jungle.
yours truly, Somebody Nobody
SN: Is this for real? Or is this some sort of initiation prank, à la a dumb rom-com? You’re going to coax me into sharing my deepest, darkest thoughts/fears, and then, BAM, when I least expect it, you’ll post them on Tumblr and I’ll be the laughingstock of WVHS? If so, you’re messing with the wrong girl. I have a black belt in karate. I can take care of myself.
If not a joke, thanks for your offer, but no thanks. I want to be an embedded journalist one day. Might as well get used to war zones now. And anyhow, I’m from Chicago. I think I can handle the Valley.
promise this isn’t a prank. and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a rom-com. shocking, I know. hope this doesn’t reveal some great deficiency in my character.
you do know journalism is a dying field, right? maybe you should aspire to be a war blogger.
Very funny. Wait, is there really sperm in the veggie burgers?
not just sperm but sweaty lacrosse sperm.
I’d avoid the meat loaf too, just to be on the safe side. in fact, stay out of the cafeteria altogether. that shit will give you salmonella.
who are you?
nope. not going to happen.
Fine. But tell me this at least: what’s up with the lack of capital letters? Your shift key broken?
Lazy and verbose. Interesting combo. And yet you do take the time to capitalize proper nouns?
I’m not a complete philistine.
“Philistine” is a big word for a teenage guy.