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He was music, everything else was noise.
Everyone at Tess's new school warns her that Micah is bad news-a heartbreaker. And a girl named Daisy is acting like she owns him. Still, Tess can't ignore her attraction to this brooding, brilliant, friendless emo guy who can turn on the charm-or heart-shredding scorn-at a moment's notice. Starting over in a new town after her parents' split isn't easy for Tess, and Micah feels like her first real ...
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He was music, everything else was noise.
Everyone at Tess's new school warns her that Micah is bad news-a heartbreaker. And a girl named Daisy is acting like she owns him. Still, Tess can't ignore her attraction to this brooding, brilliant, friendless emo guy who can turn on the charm-or heart-shredding scorn-at a moment's notice. Starting over in a new town after her parents' split isn't easy for Tess, and Micah feels like her first real connection. But then their bond suddenly feels like shackles.
Caught in an obsessive triangle of jealousy and codependence, can Tess learn to break away and find herself again?
"Taut and emotionally wrenching . . . I couldn't put it down. Josie Bloss is an author to watch."-Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and the Airhead series
I was walking down the hall in the performing arts wing, thinking about finding an accompanist for my French horn solo, when I heard what sounded like an honest-to-god angel singing. Shimmering and bold and perfect. I expected some clouds to break apart and the windowless, dull blue and gray linoleum hallway to be flooded with brilliant, dancing sunlight.
I paused by the practice rooms as the voice ran up an octave and sat on a high note, like it was the opening sound in a new world.
The voice stopped singing and I couldn't help but peek in the window of the practice room. Just to, you know, see what an angel looks like. She was in there alone, reading music that was sitting on top of the piano. Such a very small person, with sleek, dark hair and round eyes that were almost too big for her face-not exactly standard pretty, and looking much more like an earthy fairy than the heavenly creature who had just been producing that sound.
Her pale hands fidgeted nervously over her sheet music, her brow creased, and for the very first time (out of what would become a multitude of times) I could completely see how someone could feel the urge to do anything to take care of this girl. To smooth the wrinkle in her forehead, to hold those fluttering hands still, to make the downturned rosebud mouth smile.
She looked up at me; we regarded each other, and neither of us blinked. Her big eyes narrowed in confusion. There was surprisingly hostile silence, and then I quickly turned and walked away, feeling like I had accidentally violated something pure with my ordinary self. I half-expected the door to open behind me, for her to step out on light feet and demand that I come back and explain why I had invaded. Why I had dared to look at her.
"Calm down, Tess," I said quietly to myself. "School just ended fifteen minutes ago, you had a perfect right to be walking down that hall."
But I didn't slow my pace until I reached my car in the junior parking lot.
* * *
"How was school?" my mom wanted to know over dinner. She had picked up supermarket sushi and we were eating it in front of a rerun of Friends.
I shrugged. "It was okay."
"Just okay?" she asked, eyeing me and not noticing the rice that had fallen off her piece of spicy tuna roll onto the couch. I tried not to look at it.
I knew she was still feeling conflicted about asking me to move after the divorce, in the dead of winter, from Chicago to Grand River, Michigan, the town where her sister, my Aunt Jenny, lived, and where Mom had gotten a good administrator job at the local university. Far away from my dad, and from where the entire sixteen years of my life had occurred.
"Yep, pretty much just okay," I said, trying not to look at the scattered rice. I wasn't angry at Mom, exactly, but I was very tired. Tired of pretending like I was fine with it all, that I was okay with being here, that I didn't mind the incredibly awkward phone conversations I had with Dad, that I wasn't a typical, obstinate, hate-the-world teenager. Sometimes the temptation to give her an all-out, stereotypical guilt-trip with stormy tears and slammed doors was almost too much to bear.
Especially given the fact that I had been at Grand River High School for almost two months, and all those magical new best friends that Mom promised I'd immediately make had still failed to materialize. I'd gone to a few club meetings, found a group of perfectly nice band kids to sit with at lunch, tried to make an effort to talk to people ... but no one was as interesting or fun as my old friends back in Chicago.
And, of course, no one seemed to think I was terribly interesting or fun, either. Lately, I was inclined to agree with them.
"Have you decided about the festival yet?" Mom asked. "Are you going to find an accompanist and play your solo?"
Back in Chicago, since middle school, it had been part of the yearly routine for me to play a French horn solo in front of a judge at a citywide event each spring. I wasn't all that great at French horn, but band was something to do when my favorite activity, swimming, wasn't taking up all my time. They had the same sort of solo-and-ensemble competition here in Michigan, but I was finding it hard to care much about it.
But I knew it would make Mom happy if I at least gave the appearance of attempting to be genuinely involved in life here in Grand River.
"Yeah, my band director gave me the name of some guy who plays piano, Micah something-or-other, so I guess I'm going to hunt him down tomorrow and see if I can set something up."
Mom reached over, still not acknowledging the rice (how could she not see it?), and patted my knee. "Good, I'm glad to hear it. It'd be a shame for you to quit right near the end. Only one more year of high school after this, Tess. You should make the most of it."
"Yeah, you're right," I sighed. "One more year. That's true."
I reached over and started picking up the pieces of rice that Mom had casually scattered on the couch. I couldn't really think straight with them sitting there like that.
"Tess," Mom said quietly. "Stop that."
"Stop what?" There were still three or four grains to go and then it would all be clean again.
"Picking up after me," she said. She grabbed my hand and held on gently. "Dad isn't here. You don't need to worry anymore. No one is going to get upset about a few grains of rice."
"But maybe it bugs me," I said quietly.
She looked at me and I felt myself shrink a bit. "It's just rice. I'll take care of it later. We're enjoying our dinner right now."
I almost found myself saying, You always say you'll do it later, but then I realized that's exactly what Dad would say.
Mom had been seeing some new therapist since we moved to town, who was apparently helping her break her codependent tendencies. Which was great for her, of course. Everyone on Mom's side of the family had been so concerned about her, about how she was holding up and getting over things. I knew they'd been encouraging her to leave my dad for years.
It made me feel kind of small and petty, but no one talked much about how I was handling the uprooting of my entire existence. Even if parts of my former existence had sucked.
Of course, no one talked much about Dad, either. He was just the villain in the divorce, plain and simple. When he called me, he'd rail about how unfair it was, how he'd tried to make it work but everyone interfered and Mom had abandoned him. I never knew what to say in reply ... and I was afraid he thought I agreed with him. Which I didn't. I had plenty of my own problems with Dad.
We were both silent until Mom laughed at something that happened on TV. I stayed quiet, silently dissecting my dinner with the ends of my chopsticks and trying to ignore the remaining rice on the couch.
"Have you been missing Neil at all?" Mom asked at a commercial break, in an obvious effort to change the topic. "I haven't heard you two talking on the phone at all."
Neil had been my boyfriend back in Chicago. A Very Nice Guy on the diving team with curly blond hair and a quick, toothy smile. We'd dated for a year or so and it had been ... nice. Not extraordinary, or really all that passionate, but fine and comfortable and easy. He'd been a diver and I was a swimmer and we had stuff to talk about and mutual friends.
We'd been halfheartedly trying the long-distance thing since I moved. Until recently.
"The last time we talked I told him he should just go ahead and go out with other people," I said, mashing wasabi into the plate. "There doesn't seem to be much point anymore. Trying to stay close with people back there, I mean."
Not that they hadn't tried. For the first few weeks after we moved, I'd gotten emails and text messages every day from my old friends, particularly Neil and my best friend Julia. I'd kept up with everyone as best I could, through Facebook and text messages and Instant Messenger, for as long as I could.
But then I started feeling lonelier talking to them than pretending like they didn't exist. I'd begun deleting Julia's plaintive text messages unread. And then I broke up with Neil.
Mom looked over at me. "Oh, you didn't tell me ..." She trailed off. "Are you all right?"
"Sure," I said, avoiding her eye. "I'm okay. We just drifted apart, I guess."
Because what else could I say, really? That the world seemed to have lost most of its color since we moved? That ever since the divorce I felt like I drifted through the day without ever actually connecting with anyone, like I was a ghost of myself? That sometimes I thought no one else even knew my name-including, on occasion, me?
"Are you sure?" she prodded.
"Yeah, Mom. Really. I think I'll just go do some homework."
When she was looking the other way, I swept the rice into my hand and put it on my plate to send down the garbage disposal.
* * *
At lunch the next day, I had one of my casual band lunch friends, Laura, point out the piano-playing Micah to me.
"He's kind of, um, weird," she said, wrinkling her nose. "That's him over there."
I didn't think Micah looked so strange, even though he was sitting on the very edge of a group of drama club kids who he was obviously ignoring, writing furiously in one of those old-fashioned black-and-white composition notebooks. He was wearing incredibly nerdy-looking glasses, square with thick black plastic rims, but I could tell they were supposed to be an ironic fashion statement. His dark brown hair was too carefully gelled up and his black button-down shirt was too well-cut and stylish to make me believe otherwise.
He was kind of hot, in an intense and geeky way, and looked completely out of place in the Grand River High School cafeteria. I wondered why I hadn't noticed him before. Just for the fact that he stood out like an exclamation point.
"Is he too weird to talk to?" I asked Laura.
She shrugged. "I don't know. I haven't talked to him much except for one group project in Social Studies my freshman year. He's, like, super genius smart and kind of sticks to himself ... I don't think he has many friends except for Daisy."
"Daisy?" I said with a snort. "Like The Great Gatsby? For real?"
Laura smiled. "Um, yeah, I guess. Daisy Geller. That's her right there, actually."
I looked where Laura indicated and saw the tiny singer from the practice room slinking toward Micah. She sort of eyed him warily, like she was afraid he might bite, hovered over him for a moment, and sat lightly on the edge of the bench next to him.
He didn't acknowledge her.
She nudged his shoulder with her elbow, and gave him a coquettish look with delicately arched eyebrows.
Micah half-turned his back on her.
So Daisy leaned over to his ear, so close she could have easily kissed him, and whispered something. Slowly his mouth turned into a smile, and he put a hand up to his forehead as if to cover his eyes and deny it. His shoulders shook once, twice.
And that's when the first pang hit me. Right in the gut, approximately at my liver. She made him laugh.
"Oh, are they going out or something?" I said casually, after a moment.
Laura shrugged. "I think Daisy goes out with everyone."
Another guy approached the table. He was a burly lacrosse-player type, with slouchy jeans and a blue varsity jacket. He blatantly ignored Micah and reached down to grab Daisy's hand. She pretended to fight him, her tinkling laugh bouncing across the cafeteria to where I sat. Eventually, the varsity-jacket guy was able to pull Daisy up and wrap his arms around her, enveloping her small body.
She extracted one hand from the embrace and slid it over Micah's head, ruffling his hair, and strolled away with the other guy, barely coming up to his shoulder.
Micah didn't stop writing the entire time. I was pretty sure he hadn't even looked at her.
"Strange," I said, mostly to myself.
"Yeah, no joke," said Laura, who had watched the whole scene with me. It was like she was the narrator of a wildlife TV show. "I mean, that guy whose leg she was humping is Brett Taylor, and he's seriously the hottest guy in the senior class. And Daisy is just some junior choir freak who's not even that cute. But it's obvious, of course, why the guys like her."
I looked at Laura with raised eyebrows as I took a drink of water.
"Duh. It's because she puts out."
I almost snorted the water out of my nose, and coughed for a good ten seconds.
"Really?" I finally managed to say.
"Yeah, you wouldn't think so," said Laura. "But Daisy Geller is a total slut."
I looked at Micah again, who was still writing. He hadn't even attempted to smooth his hair, which was now sticking out in all directions. It might possibly have made him even cuter.
"And she's only his friend?" I asked.
"They have one of those, like, bizarre obsessive inbred relationships that no one gets. Since eighth grade, practically," said Laura. "Seriously, don't even try to understand."
I watched Micah. All I wanted to do from that moment on was understand.
Excerpted from albatross by josie bloss Copyright © 2010 by Josie Bloss. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted March 13, 2013
I loved this book! I didn't expect Mica. to act the way he did but it didn't stop me from liking the book. I would recommend it to anyoneWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2010
Tess was trying to make it work in her new town of Grand River, Michigan. She never wanted to move from Chicago, where her old life, boyfriend, and best friend remained. However, it was best for her mom after the divorce from her father. Part of making it work, which in turn makes her mother happy, meant doing things that Tess would normally do if she was back in Chicago, like participating in the solo and ensemble competitions. Not the best French horn player, all Tess needed was someone to accompany her, to enter the competition with her. The name Micah was given to her by her director. Micah, the seemingly weird guy who always stayed to himself, who Tess found rather intriguing. For some reason, Tess was drawn to him, even if she did find out about his weird relationship to Daisy, the girl with the gorgeous voice but a not-so-beautiful reputation. Tess gains the courage to talk to Micah, and soon enough she develops a little crush. The crush would turn into affection, which would then turn into wanting his attention, which would unfortunately lead to abuse. Even if people warn Tess about Micah - people like Toby, the really cute, extremely nice drummer from band - or even when Tess' own mind warns her, for some reason she just doesn't want to listen. She allows it to continue, apologizing when she shouldn't, taking on the harsh words being thrown at her when she should stand up for herself. As the story continues, the reintroduction to her past life that involves her father connects Tess to her current situation, and how it feels unusually "normal." ALBATROSS is a powerful, insightful novel that centers on a problem in relationships that has unfortunately become all too common. Readers will feel like the people who witness those being emotionally abused in a relationship, and want to try so hard to tell that person to get away from the abuser, but are unable to fully control the situation. Josie Bloss constructs a realistic portrayal of such frightening yet truthful experiences of abuse that will exert a passion in readers to take action when they witness or are themselves in an abusive relationship.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Tess didn't want to leave Chicago, but when her mom gets a job in Grand River--- a seemingly boring place and safe from Tess' father--- her mom can't resist, but to move. For the first few months in Grand River, Tess is almost a ghost--- drifting from class to class, barely there, untill the day she meets Micah.
From the moment Tess sees Micah at school, she falls-- hard. Even when everyone--- her friends and even her inner voice--- tell her to stay away, she just can't seem to get over her obsession. Soon Micah's all Tess thinks about--- keeping his best friend/girlfriend Daisy away from him, keeping him happy, and spending more and more time with him.
To Tess, Micah feels like her first connection in a long time--- a connection to her old life. But being in love with a boy who may just be as obsessive and controlling as her father may not be as good thing as Tess may think--- even if she thinks she understands him. Can Tess learn to be like her mom and break away from Micah?