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Song is hanging on my arm, afraid I’m going to slip onto the bus and out of her life as quickly as I made the decision to go. I step back, allowing other passengers to board, trying to keep our good-bye upbeat, trying not to feel like the lousiest sister on the planet.
Those in line near us stare. We’re used to it. Song’s bald head and skinny body always produce curiosity and contorted, sympathetic expressions. We’re like a sappy Lifetime movie wherever we go.
Usually, I see faces of allies. Today I feel as if those faces are judging me.
“Please don’t hate me,” I say to Song.
“Of course she doesn’t hate you,” my mother says, stepping closer.
I keep my eyes locked on my little sister. It’s hard for our family to remember she’s thirteen. She’s been through more than most, and although she tries to portray a kick-ass attitude with her holey jeans and punk T-shirts, she still looks like a scrawny little kid.
She won’t look me in the eye. Instead, she launches into haiku—a language we’ve used since she learned the form in third grade:
“Off to a reserve
Anyone for lawn bowling?
I’ll stay here and puke”
She means “resort,” but I don’t correct her. My reply:
“Hey, I’ll be working.
‘Can I get you anything else?’
Just a lowly wench”
We’ve had lots of practice turning onlookers into an audience. Makes it easier to deal. Especially today. Especially when saying good-bye seems impossible.
“Caviar and cake—”
She stops herself, unable or unwilling to go on. And then she moves closer. “Don’t forget your promise,” she whispers.
“Of course not,” I say.
She wraps her arms around me—more stronghold than hug.
I hold her for as long as I can take. Then I wiggle out, quickly kiss my mom, and climb onto the bus—picking up the free headphones, though my own are hanging around my neck. Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think, I repeat, sliding into a window seat.
A large woman follows, choosing the seat next to mine. I’ve barely plopped down before she starts packing garbage bags all around me. They’re stuffed with clothes, I hope.
“Visiting my brother in Brewer,” she says. “No one would see him if I didn’t get on a bus once a year. You know?”
I nod and tell her I’m going to Rocky Cove, Maine.
“Near Bucks Harbor,” I say.
“There’s nothing near Bucks Harbor, honey.”
Should I tell her about my job? Nah, I don’t have the energy. I look out the window to locate Mom and Song but catch a glimpse of my still-surprising reflection instead. I cut my hair off yesterday. Not like Song—I didn’t shave my head the way the seventh-grade boys did when they heard doctors had found another tumor. No, I waited until yesterday and then had my long hair cut into a short, crazy bob. I even said yes to red streaks.
“You don’t even look like you,” my mother cried.
Mission accomplished. Of course, if I’d had any sense, I would have waited until I got to Maine.
I lean back and glance at a girl about my age, with the long hair I used to have, across the aisle. She catches my eye and smiles.
I smile back.
The woman next to me pulls an open pack of Life Savers from her purse, flicks tobacco off the top one, and offers it to me.
“I’m good,” I say.
The girl giggles.
We share a roll of the eyes, and then I turn to the window. We’re pulling out of South Station. Good-bye, Boston. Mom is waving one arm, throwing kisses with the other.
Song bends her arm at the elbow and raises her hand as if she were taking an oath—or saying, Stop. My breath catches.
I want to yell, No, wait! and run off the bus and into the arms of my little sister, back into the family cocoon where everyone is waiting, dreading, watching with one eye open at all times. Ready to push back fear—to push back fear and doubt and …
But I can’t. I need to say, Yes. Not yes to another round of Scrabble or yes to Halloween III again or yes to “I’ll stay home tonight and make sure Song’s temp doesn’t spike,” but yes to—to what? A break.
That’s all. Just a break. Two and a half months to see what it would feel like to be, well, me.
Here’s what saying yes feels like. Like I’m a total coward and courageous at the same time.
“I know he has to work,” the woman continues. “I don’t expect him to lose hours to pick me up.”
I place my hand on the glass and whisper as I’ve done a thousand times before, Be strong, Song.
© 2010 Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Posted January 24, 2014
Song: cry by rhiannah. <p> this time was diffrent. Felt like i was just a victom. And It cut me like a kni<_>fe, when you walked out of my life. Now im. in this contision, and i. Got all the symptoms, of a girl with a broken heart. But no matter what youll never see me cryyyyyyy....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 25, 2013
This book taught me a wonderful lesson about love, friends, and family. I realized that Carly was a very demanding friend and when she jumped off the ledge with Star, I was baling my eyes out. Especially when Star got really sick.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2013
Posted January 3, 2013
Posted January 25, 2012
ok i loved this book so much it also taught me a good lesson about love friendship and sisters i tell people about good books all the time if u want to know about other good one comment to me trust me ive got lots dont forget you must get this book ps this book made me scream at the butt face girl in this book i wont tell you her nameWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2011
Posted January 29, 2010
Reviewed by McKenzie Tritt for TeensReadToo.com
Nola wants to escape her home life. That basically means Song, her younger sister who is battling cancer. It's not that she doesn't love her sister or anything; Nola just wants to be able to live her own life without those constant worries. She heads off to a resort in Maine, and there she meets Carly. They become quick friends, and Carly seems like the perfect person to hang out with on a summer vacation.
Nola will soon learn, though, that Carly can be rather twisted and isn't all that she seems. Carly is a bad influence. She lies and creates unnecessary drama. Nola thinks she can handle it, until Carly pushes her one time too many.
I ended up really enjoying this book. Nola was a good character that I found easy to connect with. Even Song, her sister, was a spunky girl who was fun to hear about. The story picked up quickly, and I found that the pacing throughout the book was just right. I never grew bored with it.
I liked the secondary characters, though we didn't hear much about them. I would have enjoyed learning more about the other characters and Nola's relationships with them. I felt the book was lacking in that area.
However, THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF WHY I HATE HER is an awesome book that portrays just what a "frenemy" really is. The dramas of teenage relationships are explored truthfully, and I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a quick, emotional read.
Posted August 26, 2010
No text was provided for this review.
Posted January 3, 2013
No text was provided for this review.