24 Girls in 7 Daysby Alex Bradley
There are few things sadder than Jack Grammar’s love life. So when his friends take it upon themselves to get him a date to the prom by placing an intensely humiliating ad in the school paper, they think they are doing him a favor. Jack doesn’t agree. But then the most amazing thing happens: responses to the ad are overwhelming. So overwhelming, in… See more details below
There are few things sadder than Jack Grammar’s love life. So when his friends take it upon themselves to get him a date to the prom by placing an intensely humiliating ad in the school paper, they think they are doing him a favor. Jack doesn’t agree. But then the most amazing thing happens: responses to the ad are overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that Jack must narrow the list down. A lot. Not an easy task. Turns out, the girls at City High are quite competitive. From drive-by flashings to breaking and entering to cell phone stalkers, these potential prom dates will stop at nothing to snag the suddenly popular Jack. How will he ever choose just one?
Abbe Goldberg, Teen Reviewer
- Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.94(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.65(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
I FEEL, TO BE HONEST, like a man in a space suit. In space. Because despite the fact that I’m in the middle of a stupid overcrowded narrow hallway surrounded by masses of my excessively chatty peers freshly released from fifth period, I can hear nothing but my own breath and I feel very separate and very far from my own planet and it seems like there’s no gravity. I might float away. There also seem to be stars twinkling at the edges of my vision.Where the heck am I headed? Who sent me on this insane quest? And to top it off, my hands are numb. My hands are very numb, but I keep moving down the hall, trudging onward, and now I can see the doorway from which Pamela Brown will appear at any moment. Oh, for the love of all that’s good and holy. Oh, for the love of frick. My comrades sent me on this mission moments ago with semihelpful encouragement.
“Luke,” Percy said, gripping my shoulders too tightly and using his best Darth Vader voice, “this is your destiny.”
“I’m not Luke,” I said.
“Don’t quibble, my son,” he said, still in character.
“Besides,” I added, “Luke didn’t get the girl. And the girl was his sister anyway.”Natalie nodded. “He’s got a point,” she said.
“Er . . . uh . . .” Percy-Darth said. Natalie winked at me. “We believe in you, Jack,” she said.
“But I don’t . . .” I protested. “I’m not up for this. I just don’t think it’s me. It’s not something I can do. It’s not something I’ve ever done. It’s not something I ever will do. I’m not good at it. Honestly.”
She clasped my shoulders and smiled, looking me right in the eyes, and instead of responding to my last-minute blabbering—the kind of excuses I’d been spewing all week, the kind of excuses she had talked me through ten times already—she simply turned me in the right direction and gave me a little push. Thus I was shot into outer space. I was off.My legs and feet seem to be working well, even without my direct involvement. Now I’m passing under the banner advertising the prom, the thing itself, the night of nights, my date with fate. XANADU, the banner reads. Or, as we’ve been calling it: Xanadon’t, Xanadope, Xanaduped, and, the twin favorites, Xanadoohickey and Xanathingamadoo.
Most of the students have already left Pamela’s classroom, but where is she? I have a sudden vision of her hiding just inside the doorway, back flat against the wall, waiting for me to pass so she can escape, but the reality of the situation is that Pamela wouldn’t hide from me because she doesn’t know who I am. Unless, of course, she has a remarkably good memory and recalls the one time we talked last year:
Setup—One Jack Grammar is waiting in line for the onlyCoke machine in the entire flipping school when he realizes a certain Pamela Brown is standing behind him. Stunned into silence by the fact of her proximity, he’s surprised by a tap on the shoulder.
PAMELA: Do you know what time it is?
Now, let’s hit the pause button, shall we, and consider our hero’s mind. John Alexander Grammar. Aka “Jack.” Aka “the Jackster.” Aka me. The question being posed to him is simple: Does he know the time? Well, does he? Yes. Therefore this should be simple, right? He is, after all, Jack Grammar, and he does, after all, have more AP credits than is possible without special permission from Dean of Students Canton Schramm. He also has a watch. He should, in all honesty, be able to answer the question before him with not only excellent accuracy, but also humor, ease, wit, and boyish charm.
JACK (looks at watch): 12:32 . . . About. I think?
PAMELA: Thanks.Not only does Jack not know what to say as a follow-up to Pamela’s expression of gratitude, but he suddenly finds himself at the front of the vending-machine line, and after shakily feeding his coins into the slot, he bumps the Diet Coke button.
In other words, if Pamela Brown remembers anything about me, it’s that I drink girl soda.Then suddenly there she is. She comes out of the classroom alone, holding her books to her chest, schoolgirl-style. (Well, she is a schoolgirl, I suppose, so that makes sense.) I marvel: even in doing something so simple as leaving a classroom, she oozes grace. She tours with a ballet company every summer, after all.
But—uh-oh and crap—she’s taking a most alarming course through the crowded hallway: she’s going all the way over to the opposite wall, whereas I’ve been sticking close to this wall, and that means I’m in trouble. Here we are at the moment of truth.Here I am, the spaceman in deep space, having finally spotted the green and lovely planet that is my destination—my hope, my dream, my personal springtime—and suddenly that planet is jumping from its expected orbit and I’m going to have to waste precious rocket fuel in a last-second effort to bring myself in. And if I miss this landing, I’ll fly right past the planet, careening on into the inky black void of space, likely never to return. . . . A dateless spaceman . . .
To my credit, I veer heroically across the hall.
Twenty feet, ten feet, five feet . . . I bring myself closer, and suddenly even walking is difficult, requiring all my concentration. Even breathing seems to be strangely complicated right now. . . .
This is absurd.
I think about the three possible opening lines that I had prepared for this moment. The lines that I spent all week writing, all last night rehearsing. The lines that are written on the palm of my left hand. But my beautiful and appropriate lines are gone from my head. There are no words in me. I open my palm a little, but I stop because Pamela is looking at me. I am blocking her path.
No time to read my lines! Must improvise! Alert! Alert! Improvisational chitchat, now!
“Hee,” I say. Hee? Did I just say hee?
“Hey,” she says, but she’s not sure about this whole thing.
Her eyes are these giant green globes—twin planets. Her hair, a golden cascade. Even her braces are like tiny jewels. . . .
Then she says a thing that blows my mind: “You’re Jack, aren’t you?”
How can I flub this one? “Yeah,” I say. “You’re . . . Pamela?”
She nods, says, “You have a little dog, don’t you?”
“Oh, him. I mean, yeah. He’s a Jack Russell terrier. If you likethat kind of thing.”
What? If you like that kind of thing?
She smiles. “I think I saw you guys playing Frisbee down in Riverside Park,” she says.
“Yeah, that would be us. We’re going to make the Olympics in 2008.”
“I like a man with a plan.”
What’s this? What is this most unusual sensation? Am I being flirted with? By Pamela Brown?
“I’ve never seen you in the park,” I say. (Lie.)
“I play tennis there.”
“Oh, really? That’s cool.” (She plays Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, four thirty to five forty-five, weather permitting, preferably on court 3, with her friend Reba. She uses a Prince racket, Wilson tennis balls, Diadora court shoes. Backhands are her strength, serves her weakness. She doesn’t sweat.)
“I guess,” she says. I look at my watch. I tap it. Why did I just do that?
“Tennis!” I bark, as if I just now heard what she said twelve seconds ago. “So what’s that like?”
“What’s what like?”
She’s got a blank look.
“It’s fun,” she says. “You’ve never played tennis?”
“Uh, no. Uh, just slightly. I mean, I was on the team in junior high.” Her blank look turns into a puzzled one.
“Hey!” I say, as if something brilliant has occurred to me. “Are you interested in this whole Xanadu thing? Because I realize we don’t really know each other, but I was just thinking that it would be a good opportunity to do just that. I mean, if you don’t already have plans.”
I can see her shoulders—her ballerina shoulders—getting ready to shrug me off. There’s a pre-shrug forming.
“Hm, prom . . .” she says, drawing the word out and considering it as if it were something she’d heard of but never really thought seriously about. She nods. “That sounds kinda cool.”
“I don’t know if it’ll be cool per se. But it’ll be a thing.”
“A thing? Did I just say ‘a thing’?”
“What did I mean?” I say.
“What do you mean, what did you mean?” she says.
“Ha-ha!” I say. Forced laughter. “It’s just that, well. A fine time will be had by all. That sort of thing. And, well—And, so—And, and—I guess—Well, I mean . . .”The great spirit of doubt is clouding her face. I have to rally fast.
“Well, we being seniors and all,” I explain, “it’s our last chance for us to go in for this sort of stuff. And the fantastic transgenic forces of springtime are surging around us. And who can pass up an opportunity to eat some cheap cake and all? And punch! Do you like punch?”
Her eyes have narrowed, and she’s angled her shoulders away from me, and for a brief moment I see her look past me, at someone or something behind me.
“You’re a senior?” she asks.
“Yeah . . .” I say. What’s she getting at?
“I thought you were, like, a sophomore.”
“Well, I was,” I say. “I used to be. . . .”
“Hm,” she says. “Weird.”
“But should I call you or something, or . . .”
“It’s just,” she says, “that I don’t think I’m going to the prom.” And she walks away.
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