The Candy Darlings

( 12 )

Overview

The candy became an obsession between two outcasts—one who only wanted to fit in, the other who knew she never would.
Urban legends, rumors, lies, myths, mysteries, fairy tales. Stories, in all their magical forms, bound them together.
“Satin Chocolate–Covered–Chicken Bones,” “Astro Pop,” “Fun Dip,” “Thrills.” The candy stories—outrageous, twisted, hysterical—were an escape from a harsh reality and revealed a ...

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Overview

The candy became an obsession between two outcasts—one who only wanted to fit in, the other who knew she never would.
Urban legends, rumors, lies, myths, mysteries, fairy tales. Stories, in all their magical forms, bound them together.
“Satin Chocolate–Covered–Chicken Bones,” “Astro Pop,” “Fun Dip,” “Thrills.” The candy stories—outrageous, twisted, hysterical—were an escape from a harsh reality and revealed a startling truth.

Darkly lyrical, sensual, suspenseful, and disturbing, The Candy Darlings is a celebration of friendship, story, and the power of each to help you define yourself—or simply survive.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Brothers Grimm meet Mean Girls in Christine Walde’s edgy YA debut novel, the story of a young girl and her friend, a mysterious misfit named Megan Chalmers, who join forces at an exclusive private school to combat a powerful trio of teen tyrants. United by their outsider status, the girls soon discover that they share an obsession with candy in all its addictive, sugary incarnations. During the course of an eventful school year, the two friends ward off grief, loneliness, and the spectacularly cruel tactics of their tormenters by consuming mind-boggling quantities of jawbreakers, tootsie pops, slime balls, and other sugary confections -- while Megan spins dark, disturbing stories that help them cope with the stresses in their lives. Strong language and adult themes may make this subversive little novel inappropriate for the youngest, most impressionable readers. However, we would not hesitate to recommend The Candy Darlings for older teens struggling to find their way in the emotional landscape of adolescence.
From the Publisher
The language in the stories varies from magical and imaginative to graphic, and reflects the angst of these two young outcasts who find something in each other that both need. Filled with interesting characters, both young and old.
KLIATT
Publishers Weekly
Canadian writer Walde's twisted debut tells the not-so-sweet story of two teenage girls in a new town, and their angst-ridden relationships at home, at school and with the world at large. The book's themes recall those of Adele Griffin's Amandine and Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, given the uneasy relationship between the duo and also their solidarity when faced with the cruel and beautiful popular clique. The role of the candy cited in the title seems elusive: as the novel opens, the unnamed narrator alludes to her own aversion to sugar ever since her terminally ill mother could only tolerate an I.V. full of glucose. But when the protagonist, midway through the novel, suddenly does eat candy, the author treats it as a non-event. The other key character, Megan Chalmers, constantly sucks on hard candy while spinning bizarre tales that border on the pornographic (one describes a store clerk who suggests that a girl perform fellatio on him in exchange for candy), and she disappears for days at a time. The subplots seem piled on at the expense of character development, and the ending leaves many holes (is Megan's mother a prostitute on the run, as Megan's stories suggest? why do she and her mother leave town?). Unfortunately, the framing device ("I could tell others the truth. My truth. The way things really happened... I could write my own story") likely won't convince readers that the narrator has resolved these issues for herself either. Ages 16-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Nola Theiss
In this coming-of-age story, two young girls meet in a new school. One's mother has just died and her father has moved to a new town to try to start life over. The other lives with her mother and her mother's cousin Rose, although these characters are seldom if ever seen. Neither tells the truth about her own life to her new friend or even to herself. The narrator is afraid to eat candy, having watched what she was told was sugar water dripping into her dying mother's arm, while the other only eats candy. Soon candy and the stories they tell each other become the bond that protects them from the tribulations of dealing with the clique of three popular girls who pick on them, the conflicting feelings they have for each other, other classmates. As the author says of Megan, "She turned the world into one of stories." The narrator needs these stories to help her through her difficult adjustments to a new school, a developing body, and a life without her mother. The language in the stories varies from magical and imaginative to graphic, and reflects the angst of these two young outcasts who find something in each other that both need. Filled with interesting characters, both young and old.
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
"Sugar and spice and everything nice" are not the stuff of typical adolescence; Christine Walde explodes this fact on the pages of her latest novel. After her mother's death, a girl and her father move to a new community. A new community means a new school as well, and the narrator is eager to fit in with the three powerful girls in her class. Instead, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious, rebellious classmate named Megan Chalmers who doesn't care to fit in with anyone. The two girls consume incredible quantities of candy as a sort of sugar therapy for their feelings of isolation and grief, and Megan spins confection-focused pornographic tales as a form of stress relief. Tension mounts as the pair clash with the popular girls time and again, culminating in a pair of orgiastic and near-fatal events that are reminiscent of Mean Girls and Heathers.
VOYA - Amy S. Pattee
Following the death of her mother, the unnamed narrator of this story moves to a new town where, just as she is easing into her school's most powerful clique, she meets a disturbingly fascinating classmate named Megan. Megan's arrival and eventual befriending of the narrator does not endear her to the popular girls, who criticize Megan's eccentric dress, smart mouth, and preoccupation with candy. Through a campaign involving coded notes, offers of sweets, and storytelling, Megan gradually becomes a greater part of the narrator's life and the two find refuge within the narrow world of their friendship. The stories Megan tells are disquieting tales of sexual abuse, betrayal, and of course, candy. When Megan periodically disappears for days at a time, it becomes more difficult to determine where the boundary between truth and fiction lies. As in Adele Griffin's Amandine (Hyperion, 2001/VOYA December 2001), this novel concerns itself primarily with the mysteries and intimacies of female friendship. Where in Griffin's novel the pathology of the charismatic friend is revealed in a dramatic fashion, here the resolution is not as certain. When Megan eventually disappears, readers are unsure of the truth of her past as well as her future; the novel's resolution is reminiscent of Gregory Galloway's As Simple As Snow (Putnam, 2005). Walde's first novel is lengthy but not dense; the highlights of the narrative are found in Megan's stories, which, following the conclusion of the book, are compelling rereads.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618589692
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,456,196
  • Age range: 16 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

When Christine Walde noticed a young girl buying bubble gum out of a machine outside a grocery store, she found the initial inspiration for Candy Darlings. She says, "I wrote this book because I was interested in the psychological war zone of adolescence and the hard lessons it teaches us about life." Christine writes full-time in Ontario, Canada. She has a wicked sweet tooth, and was happy to eat all sorts of candy while doing research for this book.

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Read an Excerpt

The Candy Darlings
Written and illustrated by Christine Walde
Copyright 2006 by Christine Walde
Graphia, an Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Company

"There is no such thing as just a story."
-- Robert Fulford

"Narration is as much part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood."
-- A. S. Byatt

EUGOLORP

THE REAL STORY

Once upon a time, I saw the world the way I thought I was supposed to: a place where the normal reigned and the weak perished under the strong. But I was wrong. And this is a story about that story. One of many tales that I must tell.

Megan would have been proud of me. For it was she who first made me see differently. She turned the world into one of stories -- candy-coated, candy-colored, sweet and raw and square and round, composing words I would consume and devour, take whole inside my mouth and suck down into nothing.

Megan could make me believe anything. Because she led me to believe that was only what they were. Stories. I didn't see that there was something more behind them. More than what I had been told. More than what I had been made to understand.

In the end -- whatever the truth is -- this I know: whatever Megan told me, I believed it because I wanted to. Not because she made me. Megan was only doing what she had to. I was the one who didn't want to see what other truth there was. What the real story could be.

TRAP ENO
EHT GNINNIGEB

HARD COMFORT

In the April of that year my mother died.

She had been sick for some time, in and out of the hospital, back and forth from home. In the spare bedroom my father set up a small, narrow bed for her. Stationed in the corner next to her rocking chair and the window was an IV pole. A puckered plastic sac of clear liquid hung from its stainless steel hook. When she was home, I'd sit beside her on the edge of the bed, watching the drops drip slowly down the skinny tube. Once, when I asked her what it was, she told me glucose, a kind of sugar water.

As I thought about all that sugar running through her veins, I imagined it as a kind of liquid candy. But when I asked her if it tasted sweet, she laughed quietly and said no. It stung, she said. But she needed it. She had to have it.

Every time after that when my mother's nurse changed her medicine, I watched her with suspicion. I held my mother's hand as her nurse adjusted the tape on my mother's arm or reinserted the needle into another vein. No matter how hard I tried, every time the needle went in, I couldn't look away.

All I could imagine was that candied water burning inside my mother. Like an invisible fire that I could not see or taste or touch or stop.

One day my father cried out for me in a voice I had never heard him use before. When I entered the spare bedroom, he was holding my mother's hand in his. He raised his head and looked at me, his eyes full of anguish.

I stared at my mother lying in her bed, her eyes closed. Beside her was the IV pole: its tube dangling down beside her arm, glucose still dripping down the line. I stepped beside the bed and jerked the small needle out of her vein. I looked down at her face. Her mouth was slightly open, as if she were still breathing.

I wanted her to get up. I wanted her to come back to life. As my father looked at me again, hot jabbing waves stuck in my throat. I wanted to cry. Scream. But all I could do was watch the IV line twisting back and forth along the floor, its sugar water dripping slow as tears.

The day of the funeral it rained. My relatives came, mainly. My Uncle Sam, my father's brother. My cousins Chris and Sara. My great Aunt Elaine. Together we stood, heads bowed to the ground, silent with mourning as we listened to Father Joyce deliver the service.

I watched silently as my mother's coffin was lowered into the ground. All the time she was sick, I only ever thought she would get better. I couldn't believe I would never see her again.

I put my hand in the pocket of my coat and touched the plastic wrapping of the green and white striped mint that my great Aunt Elaine had given to me before the service. Like a pebble smoothed by waves, its tiny oval shape fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. "For later," my Aunt said. "Just in case." She kissed me on top of my head and asked if I was okay. I nodded yes -- not knowing what else to say -- and put the mint in my pocket. Perhaps she felt she had to give me something.

Even Father Joyce had offered me something sweet. When my father and I had been in his office earlier that morning, a large crystal bowl of jelly beans was displayed on his desk. He confessed they were the only sin he could commit. My father laughed in a sad, hopeless way. Then Father Joyce asked me if I wanted any. He stepped forward, offering the bowl with both hands and told me I could take as many as I wanted. A broad beam of sunlight flooded his office and intersected with the bowl, casting prisms of candy-colored light against the wall.

My father leaned forward and took one. I stared at the collection of small, kidney-shaped beans. Father Joyce urged me to take one. To take more than one. But when he saw my expression, he put the bowl back on the corner of his desk saying he understood if I didn't want anything just now.

Later, as Father Joyce spoke his final words, I touched the piece of candy my great Aunt Elaine had given me and squeezed it as hard as I could until my hand burned with pain. And in that instant I came to believe that the glucose had been the disease; the sugar water the true cause of my mother's death. Full of liquid candy, she had died as a result.

I looked down at my feet, steps away from the square edge of my mother's grave. I imagined her, deep down inside that darkened box, laying on the soft bed of satin, wearing her best dress, her eyes forever closed. All that glucose still caught in her veins. Its poison worming its way through her, adding to her decay.

I gripped the mint again. It was just like those bags of glucose the nurse had given my mother. But smaller. Harder.

It was then that I promised myself never to eat candy again. As God was my witness. So help me. Amen.

NORMAL

A few months later, my father and I moved to Woodlands, a quiet subdivision in a small town.

Ours was an average two-story house, with a paved driveway and a double car garage. Trees stood out front: maple, birch, a couple of craggy spruce. Cedar shrubs, stiff as sentries, guarded the front door. It looked like every other two-story house on the street: neat and trim and tidy without drawing too much attention to itself. A model model home.

My great Aunt Elaine was critical of the move. A girl my age needed stability and security, she told my father. A place to grow from. Roots. My father's only reply was that he couldn't live in the old house. Not anymore. Since my mother's death, the door to the spare bedroom had stayed closed. The truth was I wanted to leave, too. I knew nothing in that house would ever be the same.

A new reign of normalcy, I believed, would save my father and me. In its wake, events would ebb and flow in a rhythm of domesticity; perfect as a commercial, shiny and new. I envisioned myself gossiping on the telephone while downstairs my father drank coffee and read the weekend paper. Whatever presence there had been of my mother would be absent. Death would be reduced to nothing but a caricature: the caped crook from nightmares and comic books.

Or at least I hoped.

Shortly after we moved in, my father insisted we plant flower bulbs in memory of my mother. It was the first week of September, the last weekend before school started. Together, we worked silently, side by side in the front garden, digging small dark holes in the earth.

The flowers were tulips. My mother's favorite. I watched as my father inserted the bulbs, one by one, into their holes, covering them over with earth. Every now and then, he stood back and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand, his breathing strained.

The black matter of his shadow cast over me. I could sense the rough leanness of his face; the tense sorrow of his eyes. His whole body showed that he had been having trouble sleeping.

In the spring, he told me, things would be different. We would see the flowers bloom and we would remember her. "These sure are going to be beautiful, aren't they," he said.

I wasn't sure how to answer him. It hadn't really sounded like a question.

I looked at the dirt encrusted under my fingernails and thought about the bulbs buried in the cold ground. I couldn't bear the thought that they would be a memorial, pushing up through the dirt, determined to make me remember.

The night before my first day of school, I stood naked before the mirror in my darkened room. I had grown in the past year. "Developing" they called it, as if I were a photograph, bit by bit, coming into focus.

Other landscapes of skin had appeared. Hair. Smells. Secretions. Bumps and lumps and curves. I felt weird. As if I were possessed by someone else. As if there were a whole other person growing outside of me.

Tomorrow, I told myself, I could transform into anyone I wanted to be. Nobody had to know anything about me. Nobody had to know the truth. Tomorrow I could be someone new.

My plan was simple. Be popular. Be cool. Fit in. No matter what happened: be normal.

Woodland Public School was jail-like and institutional. Containment seemed to be its central architectural feature, with its cinder block hallways painted varying shades of grey. The classrooms were militaristic. Cement-colored filing cabinets. Stainless steel wastepaper baskets. Rows upon rows of desks strategically arranged.

Because of its age, WPS almost seemed to be out of time: uncannily stuck in a previous era and, as I later came to learn, ruled by old-fashioned people and principles.

From inside the classroom, I surveyed the school yard. Out of the distance, a figure emerged, walking alone across the grass. A strange looking boy. His head down.

"Hi there."

I turned around. A girl with dark skin and tight, curly brown hair was smiling at me.

"Hi," I said.

"You're new, aren't you?"

I nodded.

"I knew it," she exclaimed. "As soon as I saw you." She extended her hand. "I'm Tracey Reid. Mr. King asked me to show you around." I reached out and shook her hand. Her grip was firm and dry, with the polite resolution of a politician.

"Nice to meet you," I said.

"That was Blake Starfield," she informed me.

"Excuse me?"

"That boy. Who you just saw. Walking across the yard."

I turned back around to see where he went, but he was gone.

"If I were you, I'd stay away from him," Tracey warned me. "He's weird."

"Well, I see someone is making somebody feel welcome."

We both turned around. In the doorway was a tall man with dark-rimmed glasses and greying hair.

"Hello Mr. King," Tracey said, blushing.

Mr. King flashed me a quick grin, adjusting his light grey sport-coat. I stared down at the floor, looking at his shoes: black loafers with little leather tassels. He was not what I expected.

"Miss Reid," he said, acknowledging Tracey. Mr. King, I later learned, always called girls by their last name if he really liked them. He put his hands in his pockets, jingling a few loose pieces of change.

"If you want to know anything, just ask Miss Reid here. She knows everything." He looked down at Tracey and smiled, then winked at me. "And everybody, too."

The odor of his cologne was sharp.

"I spoke with your father last week," he said, turning to me. "After all that's happened I want you to know you have our support here at Woodland."

I realized this must have been the exact same speech my father had heard. I thought of him at the mercy of Mr. King's pedantic manner, his head cowered in submission.

"If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here," Mr. King continued.

Tracey looked at me with sympathy. "Me, too."

I looked at them both and nodded.

"Thanks. I'll remember that."

Our seating was designated alphabetically. Tracey had to move to the other side of the room. Blake Starfield was assigned behind me.

When I turned around, he stared at me and grinned. One eye looked straight at me but his right pupil was like a stray marble. I didn't know which eye to look into. Confused, I turned around, ignoring him.

Then I saw them.

Three girls: beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful. As they glided into the classroom, arm-in-arm, laughing in harmony, they seemed to me, with their pretty hair and cool clothes, the epitome of perfection. I imagined they all had complete families. Dogs and cats. Bedrooms with canopy beds edged with white lace. Jewelry boxes with ballerinas.

They were normal. And I longed to be a part of them.

At lunch, I was sitting with Tracey Reid when I was approached by two of the beautiful girls. They looked down at me and smiled.

"Hi," one said.

"Hi," I replied, noticing she didn't address Tracey.

"Meredith wants to meet you," the other one said.

"Who?" I replied.

"Meredith McKinnon." The other girl said this like I was supposed to know who Meredith McKinnon was.

"Me?" I couldn't believe it.

The girl smiled. "Right now." Tracey stood up to accompany me.

"Sit," the first girl said coldly, pushing Tracey back down. "You weren't invited. Newcomers only."

Tracey's eyes were bruised with hurt. I was surprised by the show of force. It seemed extreme. But I felt as if I'd been called to some secret order. As if I'd been selected.

The two girls escorted me as we walked away from Tracey. One of the girls took my arm and said, "I'm Laura Mitchell." She said this like I was also supposed to know who she was, too.

"Hi " I said.

"And this is Angela Moyer," Laura said. The other girl took my arm.

"Hi," she said.

"Hi."

As we walked arm in arm across the school ground, everyone stared at us. Watching. Whispering. Both curious and envious. As I approached Meredith, her eyes scanned over me.

"Welcome to WPS," she said. "I'm Meredith."

Meredith McKinnon had long, straight honey-blond hair. Sky blue eyes. Cherry red lips. Several seconds flashed by before I realized she was waiting for me to say something.

"Thanks," I murmured. "It's great to be here."

Meredith smiled. Now flanking her on both sides, Angela and Laura also smiled. The three of them seemed inseparable; like an isosceles triangle, the two equal sides fortifying the strength of the third. Their eyes looked me over from top to bottom and back again.

"What are you doing later?" Meredith asked.

"Nothing," I said.

Meredith smiled again.

"Why don't you come hang out with us?" Laura asked.

"Yeah," Angela added. "We'll show you around."

"Sure," I said, as calmly as I could.

I had been chosen. Level One.

After school, I met Meredith and Laura and Angela outside the main entrance. With Meredith leading in the middle, they stepped through the doors, hugging their books and binders to their chests, laughing and smiling at each other. I was still in shock that they had selected me.

I was so nervous. I just had to play it cool. Let them take the lead. I had decided to say, in case they asked, that my father and I had moved to Woodlands because he had been transferred to another job. Which was partly true. But that was all I would reveal. I would pretend to be as normal as they were.

"Hi," Meredith said, smiling at me. "Glad you could join us."

"Yeah," said Laura. "Looks like you finally escaped."

I looked at them with confusion. Meredith and Angela laughed.

"From Tracey " Angela explained.

"Oh." Nervous laughter. "Yeah. Thanks."

Meredith took me by the arm. "Come on. Let's go to your place."

My stomach caved. "We can't," I said, stumbling, hoping they wouldn't notice the panic in my voice.

"Why not?" Angela asked.

"Because we're not totally unpacked yet," I lied. "And the house is a mess. And since my Mom's away on business she wouldn't want me to let anyone see it like that."

Meredith thought about this for a moment, then finally suggested we go to her house.

I sighed with relief. Level Two.

As we walked down the sidewalk, Meredith and Laura and Angela talked about their summer vacations. How they all went to summer camp together. How they learned to sail. Canoe. Throw clay. They giggled as they recalled three older boys who were junior camp counsellors: Mike and Dave and Tim.

"Remember when they went skinny dipping?" said Angela. "And then refused to come out of the water?"

Meredith and Laura squealed in delight.

"And we promised " Laura said.

"Not to look " Meredith continued.

"But we did!" Angela answered.

The three of them burst out in laughter.

"Mike was so hot," Laura boasted.

"I know," echoed Angela. "Like, totally. I mean, did you see him?"

Meredith moaned. "Oh, yeah."

Then they turned and asked me what I had done for summer vacation. I didn't tell them that I moved. I said I'd gone to Maine. Which was in some way true, we had. But all I'd really done was spend two weeks watching TV with my cousins. Every night, my father slept on the floor beside me in a sleeping bag, snoring from drinking too much beer.

But Meredith and Laura and Angela didn't hear that. They heard the vacation I wanted to have. Boating. Sailing. Whale watching. Eating lobster, swimming in the ocean. Picture perfect sunsets. They seemed impressed. I was glad none of them had ever been to Maine.

Meredith's house was big. Big rooms. Big bathrooms. A big indoor pool. I placed my bag at the front door and followed the three of them into the kitchen. They stood gathered around the refrigerator while Meredith gave out bottled water.

In the living room, they slumped into the matching furniture in front of the big screen TV. I sat in a chair and listened while they talked about their hair. Their nails. Their teeth. About how fat they thought they were. Clothes. Make-up. More hair. More clothes. Then how cute Jason Cutler was. And how crazy Blake Starfield was.

"Do you remember, last year? When he climbed the roof of the school and tried to jump off?" Angela started.

"And how he said he was going to fly?" Laura answered.

Meredith laughed. "What a freak!"

I remembered the way he looked that morning walking across the school yard. Then, later, in class. I thought of telling Meredith and Angela and Laura about it, but thought better of it. I didn't want to arouse any suspicion about me in their minds. About what I might or might not have thought about Blake Starfield.

"I love those jeans," Angela said to Meredith. "They look so awesome on you."

"They don't make me look huge?"

Meredith stood up and modeled them, standing on her tip toes and turning, slowly revolving her slim hips, baring her midriff.

"Now tell me the truth " she teased, striking a pose.

Angela and Laura fawned over her, complimenting the fit. Then Meredith looked at me.

"What do you think?" she asked me.

There was not one inch of fat on her. The jeans fit perfectly.

"They look good," I stated.

Meredith glanced at me with disapproval. Obviously I had not said the right word.

"What I meant to say was they look really good," I fumbled. "Great, actually."

Meredith smiled with approval and tossed her hair over her shoulder. Level Three.

After more water, they talked about Tracey Reid and how they all felt sorry for me because I'd been stuck with her.

"She is such a loser."

"Did you see the way she was looking at Mr. King?"

"She is so in love with him."

"It's so gross. It's like she wants to suck him off or something."

Again, they erupted in fits of laughter.

"We should do something," Angela said, smiling with mischief. "To her."

Meredith's eyes widened with interest. "Like what?"

Ominous silence. Then Laura looked at me.

When I didn't say anything, Laura looked at Angela and Meredith with impatience. I felt my heart trip with fear. Obviously that was Level Four. But I had blown it.

"How about a letter," Laura said. "Something really embarrassing "

"Yeah," Laura continued, "A dirty love letter "

I knew it had to contribute something.

"How about from that guy...that weird guy ?" I blurted out.

The three of them turned their heads and looked at me.

"You mean Blake Starfield?" Meredith asked, smiling.

"Yeah," Laura said. "From Blake. To Tracey."

I actually thought Tracey had been okay. But I wasn't going to tell them that. I just felt like I had to say something.

Meredith smiled and nodded her head with approval. "Perfect," she said.

For the rest of the afternoon, Laura dictated the letter while Angela took notes. Meredith made corrections and amendments, changing this word for that one, giving the letter its cruel, lurid bent.

"I want you to --"

"I need you to --"

"Suck --"

"Yeah --"

"My throbbing gristle --"

"Loving you, my Miss Meat Joy --"

"My Miss Juicy Quivering Meat Joy."

I soon learned they never finished their own sentences: they always did it for each other. Except, of course, for Meredith. She always had the final say.

When they finished writing the letter, they decided I should be the one to deliver it to Tracey.

"After all, it was your idea," Angela said.

"Yeah," Laura said.

"That's okay with you, isn't it?" Meredith asked.

I swallowed nervously. "Sure," I replied. "I can do that."

That night, I laid awake in my bed, staring up at the ceiling, listening to the silence. Noticing a spill of light from under my door, I got up and walked out into the hallway. My father's bedroom door was open.

When I was little I used to sneak around the house at night, spying on my mother and father. I loved thinking I was invisible. I sat for hours on the stairs, watching them watch television, listening to them, waiting to see what they'd do. Sometimes I got caught, and my father would chase me as I ran up the stairs, laughing as he grabbed me and threw me over his shoulders. Then he'd carry me into my bedroom and lay me down in my bed. Stroke my hair. Tell me it was time for bed. Kiss me goodnight. Then, softly, he'd close the door.

I looked at my father now, sitting at his desk: the table lamp on, his head slumped over the open book spread out in front of him. I stared at the way the light fell down over his shoulders, long shafts spilling over his back. I watched the slow rise and fall of his shoulders as he breathed. I wanted him to hear me, to see me. To wake up and turn around and run after me, to lift me up into his arms and carry me back into my bed, even though I knew I was too old for that now.

I walked up behind him, the floor cold on my feet. When I was standing behind him, I gently placed my hand on his shoulder. He flinched ever so slightly, opening his eyes. He turned and looked up at me with wonder, as if I were a stranger.

"Dad," I said, "It's time to go to bed."

He nodded and stood up from the chair, holding my hand as I led him toward his bed. Without getting under the covers, he lay down on it and turned his back to me. Down the hallway, back in my bedroom, I crawled into my own bed.

In the morning, as always, we would not speak of it.

Because, as always, he would not remember it.

The next morning, I delivered the note to Tracey Reid and passed Level Five. It had been simple, really, dropping off the note on her desk. But then I watched Tracey open it. Read it. And saw the look of hurt on her face. I felt as if I shouldn't have cared about Tracey Reid. Or Blake Starfield. That I should have been proud of what I'd done. But I wasn't. I felt awful.

Meredith and Laura and Angela had liked my idea. And me. And for that first week, I came and went from Woodland Public School under their protective wing, privy to their conversations about hair and clothes and boys as if nothing else mattered. I was a part of them. I was almost normal. I was almost happy.

And then I met her. Megan Chalmers.

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2010

    Don't start this book without some candy nearby!

    "Candy Darlings" is one of the best first novels I've ever read. Christine Walde places amazing characters into a world filled with fantasy and real life situations. You can almost immediately sympathize with the protagonist, since so many eventful things happen to her throughout the book, but the events are given with such passion and suspense it isn't like reliving your past. This book also contains stories inside the story. Most of these stories are about candy, a substance the protagonist absolutely hates and the supporting character loves. The book is very graphic, which in my opinion make for a more memorable story. I would recommend this book to anyone 17 and up (and I have). Oh and when you start reading this book, make sure you have one of your favorite candies nearby - you'll need it!

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  • Posted December 21, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    best book ever

    this book was so amazing. i loved it so much!! my mom actually picked it out and i only bought it to make her feel good and i am sooo glad she saw it because its my favorite book!! i could not put it down!<BR/>i read it in one sitting. it's so thrilling and i love all of megan's little stories.<BR/>i seriously recommend it to everyone! i love it!!!!<BR/><33

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com

    What the new girl wanted was to start over, find a completely new identity. Now that she and her dad had moved, she was able to do just that. She had it all mapped out--start the new school year at a new school, make some new friends and become part of the "in" crowd. Then all chances of being popular were ruined when Megan Chalmers entered the scene, with her weird self, eating candy all the time. <BR/><BR/>But now the girls befriend each other, united by one bond--candy. One who absolute despises it when she discovers the effects, while the other loves it to death. Well, that and the evil forces of MAL--Meredith, Angela, and Laura, the girls who rule the school and whose targets are the two girls. <BR/><BR/>All the new girl, now dubbed Dead Girl by MAL, and Megan Chalmers need to do is get back at MAL and eat candy, the only thing that will help Dead Girl hide the pain. But it isn't simple when MAL gets meaner by the minute and no one is able to help them. It's all up to the two girls to stand up for themselves, but is it possible? <BR/><BR/>At first glance THE CANDY DARLINGS seems to be like any other "Mean Girls" story, but once the reader delves deeper into the novel, they discover a completely different universe. Christine Walde interweaves candy stories along with her main storyline to create a novel that is hard to divide into what is the real world that the girls live in and what is just the fantasy world that Megan creates. A unique novel that makes for an interesting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I absolutly LOVED this book. The Candy Darlings is now my favorite book I have ever read and I have read a lot of books! I just wish that Christine Walde would write more novels!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    What the new girl wanted was to start over, find a completely new identity. Now that she and her dad had moved, she was able to do just that. She had it all mapped out--start the new school year at a new school, make some new friends and become part of the 'in' crowd. Then all chances of being popular were ruined when Megan Chalmers entered the scene, with her weird self, eating candy all the time. But now the girls befriend each other, united by one bond--candy. One who absolute despises it when she discovers the effects, while the other loves it to death. Well, that and the evil forces of MAL--Meredith, Angela, and Laura, the girls who rule the school and whose targets are the two girls. All the new girl, now dubbed Dead Girl by MAL, and Megan Chalmers need to do is get back at MAL and eat candy, the only thing that will help Dead Girl hide the pain. But it isn't simple when MAL gets meaner by the minute and no one is able to help them. It's all up to the two girls to stand up for themselves, but is it possible? At first glance THE CANDY DARLINGS seems to be like any other 'Mean Girls' story, but once the reader delves deeper into the novel, they discover a completely different universe. Christine Walde interweaves candy stories along with her main storyline to create a novel that is hard to divide into what is the real world that the girls live in and what is just the fantasy world that Megan creates. A unique novel that makes for an interesting read. **Reviewed by: Randstostipher 'tallnlankyrn' Nguyen

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    I liked this book, but there were parts I really didnt. The some charactors didnt seem real at all. And the end just left me feeling sad. It is an okay book, but you'll have willing to over look the flaws.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2007

    Reality

    This novel is written with such expertise that a name of the narrator is not even needed. Though the backgrounds of both title characters are shrouded in vague mystery, this story seems to hit a home run on all of the most impotant aspects. Small characters define this novel as do acquaintances in the hallway in everyday life, and makes this story (collection) easily recognizable. Not for the faint of heart... this is one of the most emotional teen fictions written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    ah-mazing

    i love this book!! i love the part about the friendship and the stories and love. i give this a two thumbs up

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2006

    good. but definitely not the best book ive read.

    believe me, ive read tons of books. and this book nmade me really mad. i hated the ending with a passion. i wanted to find out what was going on with meagan and i was mad that meagan left and she was left alone. but the whole obsession with candy thing facinated me. but i was extremely disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2006

    Amazing!

    It was sad, yet realistic enough that teens can relate. You feel sympathetic that the girls have to go through being 'singled out,' and you wish that there was something you could do. I loved this book till the last page. Stories about Candy, oh, this book is so much more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    best book ever

    This was like my favorite book, ever, im an avid reader, and have read many a book, but by far, this has been my favorite. I love how walde made you feel like you knew the characters, very well done. kudos. write more christine!!! i need more brain food.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews

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