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4.2 212
by Tonya Hurley, Parker Posey (Narrated by)

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Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And if I should die before I awake,

I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And if I should die before I awake,

I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.

Praise for ghostgirl:

* Polished dark-and-deadpan humor, it's a natural fit with Gen Y, too."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

* "[Tonya] beats out witty teen-speak like a punk-band drummer, keeping the narrative fast-paced and fun yet thought-provokingly heartwarming. Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying."--Kirkus (starred review)

*"Tim Burton and Edgar Allan Poe devotees will die for this fantastic, phantasmal read."--School Library Journal (starred review)

* "Readers with a taste for black humor and satire will feast on Hurley's crisp, wise dialogue. Anticipate a well deserved cult following." --VOYA (starred review)

"Written with deadpan wit...this is a 'Wonderful Life'-like tale." -New York Post

"A sincere (and humorous) exploration ofhow we all feel invisible at one time or another...perfect read." -CosmoGirl

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hurley, an independent filmmaker, debuts with this glittering comedy, a prime exemplar of what might be called demento mori, a growing subgenre of satire about teens who will not or cannot die. Charlotte Usher's plan to catapult herself from the ranks of the invisible to the heights of popularity at Hawthorne High-no possibility for allusion goes unturned-hits a major snag on the first day of school when she chokes to death on a gummy bear. Sent to Deadiquette school along with other teen spirits, she skips out, still determined to woo her longtime heartthrob, never mind that "he doesn't even know I'm alive." The jokes stay sharp, from the goth girl who gives her a "make-under" to throwaway lines (caught breaking some cardinal rules, Charlotte mutters to herself, "I'm dead"). Plotlines raise the stakes, putting Hurley's consistent wit to the service of classic themes about claiming identity. While the author has a built-in fan base from her ghostgirl Web sites, high-impact design will ensure attention from casual browsers as well. An elaborate die-cut with stamped acetate on the cover dares readers to laugh at a silhouette of a cartoon girl in an open casket, an effect heightened by the extra-tall trim size; inside, pink-and-black graphics liberally adorn the margins, epigraphs to chapter openings, etc. And given the polished dark-and-deadpan humor, it's a natural fit with Gen Y, too. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Denzil Sikka
Geeky and invisible, Charlotte Usher seems to have only one purpose in life: Snag her Prince Charming Damen Dylan-even after she's dead. Hurley's novel never bores, offers humorous advice despite the morbid situation, and allows readers to find hope in the most fruitless of endeavors. As they follow the protagonist through her life and afterlife, readers will love the sweet story, surprising plot twists, complex characters and Hurley's innovative writing style. Reviewer: Denzil Sikka, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Lauri Vaughan
Charlotte Usher is on a mission: Get noticed by Hawthorne High's elite and score a date with heartthrob Damen Dylan. It is a tall order for mousy and-most significant-insignificant Charlotte. Before the end of first period, however, Damen becomes her lab partner and things begin looking up. Then Hurley throws the first of her ironic curve balls: Charlotte pops a Gummi bear, chokes, ends up . . . well . . . dead and Ghostgirl is (ahem) born. Charlotte is promptly introduced to a creepy class of other departed teens known as Dead Ed. Unfortunately she is not quite ready to accept her new status among the nonliving, thank you. Nor is Charlotte about to let a glitch like invisibility get in the way of her objective, hottie Damen. Hurley launches readers into a raucous and satirical tale of Charlotte's social navigation of two teen worlds, those of the living and those of the dead. Screenwriter Hurley's novel is the first in a much-promoted series based on a character she created online in 2002 (http://www.ghostgirl.com). Readers with a taste for black humor and satire will feast on Hurley's crisp, wise dialogue. Although the back story and plot in the nonliving world could be more substantial, it works. Most characters are superficial, but that is part of Hurley's well-executed point. The book's elongated format-black chipboard featuring a coffin-shaped die cut centered on a silhouette of Charlotte-is intriguing. Readers captivated by the packaging will not be disappointed. Anticipate a well deserved cult following. Reviewer: Lauri Vaughan
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Charlotte User, an invisible loser, dies just before enacting a plan to catch the cutest guy in school and achieve popularity. She refuses to accept her fate (death by gummy bear) and returns as a ghost with a mission: to go to the Fall Ball with Damen and get a midnight kiss. Hurley combines afterlife antics, gothic gore, and high school hell to produce an original, hilarious satire. Charlotte ambles through death's door and remains a pitiable, selfish, and somewhat annoying heroine. Readers root for her, but cringe at her blunders, too. She blows off her new dead-kid school and classmates, unable to give up her living, breathing crush. Hurley's pitch-perfect dialogue and clever names (Petula, Rotting Rita, Principal Styx) keep readers laughing. Dark, meditative song lyrics and poetry start each chapter while campy, Gothic illustrations frame the pages. Tim Burton and Edgar Allan Poe devotees will die for this fantastic, phantasmal read.-Shelley Huntington, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
The only place social-climbing wallflower Charlotte Usher seems destined to go is Loserville until she chokes herself to death on a gummy bear in physics lab and passes from the world of the living to dead. Even there, though, she's dubbed a scrub by her fellow dead classmates. Longing to hook up with still-living crush Damen, she contrives a scheme with Scarlet, the uber-cool goth-vintage-chic sister of Damen's brainless, bombshell girlfriend. The pact: Scarlet agrees to let Charlotte possess her body to pursue Damen, and Scarlet gets to hang with the cool dead kids. Each of Hurley's two lead heroines perfectly mirrors the other: One longs to be seen, one wants to disappear. Hurley attempts to flesh out their world in true Rowling-esque form, with side plots aplenty and a kooky slew of offbeat minor characters with mixed results; check out www.ghostgirl.com to get the full visual effect. Still, she beats out witty teen-speak like a punk-band drummer, keeping the narrative fast-paced and fun yet thought-provokingly heartwarming. Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying (Novel. YA)

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Ghostgirl Series
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one
Ever Feel Invisible?

"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
--Oscar Wilde
You never think it will happen to you.

You think about what it would be like. You go through it over and over in your mind changing the scenario slightly each time, but deep down, you don't really believe it would ever happen because it's something that happens to someone else, not to you.

Charlotte Usher headed purposefully across the parking lot to the front doors of Hawthorne High repeating her positive mantra - "This year is different. This is my year." Instead of being forever etched in her classmates high school memories as the girl who just took up space, the seat filler, the one who sucked up precious air that could be put to better use, she was going to start off this year on the other foot, a foot with the hottest, most uncomfortable shoes that money could buy. She'd wasted last year feeling like the unwanted stepchild of the Hawthorne High student body and she wasn't about to go out like that. This year, the first day of school was going to be the first day of her new life.

Approaching the front steps, she could see the last flashes from the school yearbook staff's cameras sparking in the doorway, as Petula Kensington and her crew strutted further and further down the hallway. They were always the last to arrive and then they sucked everyone in behind them in some kind of super-popular undertow. With their entrance, the school year had officially begun. And Charlotte was alone outside and falling behind schedule. Same as always. So far. The janitor manning the doorway peeked outside and looked around to see if anyone was coming. There wasn't. Well, there was, but, as usual, he had overlooked Charlotte, who was picking up speed as he began to close the massive metal door. To her, it looked like the door to a bank vault. But undaunted for a change, Charlotte reached the doors and found just enough room to squeeze in her new shoe and keep it from closing.

"Sorry, I didn't see you," the janitor mumbled indifferently.

She wasn't seen, which was expected, but she did get some acknowledgement and an apology. Her 'Popular Plan' -- a 'to-do' list which she had meticulously in hopes of snagging the object of her desire Damen Dylan -- must have been working.

Like many of her peers, Charlotte spent all summer working, but, unlike most, she was self-employed. She had dedicated herself to getting and had memorized last year's yearbook like her life depended on it. She'd studied Petula, the most popular girl in school, and her two ass-kissing best friends, The Wendys -- Wendy Anderson and Wendy Thomas -- the way some fangirls study their favorite celebrity. She wanted to get it perfect. Just like them.

She approached the first destination on her agenda with confidence: the sign up sheet for cheerleader try-outs. Cheerleader. The most-prized and exclusive 'sorority' of all and her Golden Ticket to being not only noticed, but envied. Charlotte grabbed the old pen that was dangling from the clipboard by a frayed string held together with masking tape, and started to sign her name in the last open spot.

As she started writing the 'C,' she was tapped harshly on the shoulder. Charlotte stopped writing and turned to see who was interrupting her first task of the day, no, of her new life, and then saw a line of girls who had been 'camped out' all night waiting to sign up. The gathering resembled less of a try-out than a casting call.

The tapping girl looked her over from head to toe, grabbed the pen, and simultaneously wrote her name in and Charlotte's off. She then opened her hand and let the pen mercilessly drop the length of the string. Charlotte watched the pen sway against the wall like a hanged man. She heard the pack of aspiring cheerleaders giggling behind her as she walked away. Charlotte had experienced this kind of cruelty before - to her face and behind her back -- and had always tried not to care about what other people thought or said about her. But even in makeover mode, she hadn't developed a skin so thick it could withstand total mortification.

Charlotte shook it off, refusing to lose her temper or her dignity. She consulted her planner and muttered, "Locker Assignments," to herself as she crossed it off the list and headed quickly to her next destination. As she walked, her mind raced through her doings the past summer. If she was being honest, she had to admit that she had gone to a ridiculous amount of effort to get his attention. Some might say too much. There was no 'nipping' or 'tucking,' nothing that extreme -- but the hair, the diet, the wardrobe, the grooming, and the styling had pretty much taken up her entire vacation. After all, she'd taken a chance on herself and when all is said and done what real harm could come from a massive dose of self-improvement anyway?

Sure, she knew it was mainly…ok, totally, surface stuff, but so what. If her life so far was any indication, all that pat 'inner beauty' sermonizing was a load of crap anyway. 'Inner Beauty' did not get you invited to the greatest parties, with the coolest people. It certainly didn't get you invited to the Fall Ball with Damen Dylan.

Bottom line, Damen was a priority and and deadlines like the dance had a way of motivating her. Life was a series of choices and she'd made hers.

Charlotte was able to excuse her detour into superficiality as a strategic move. The way she saw it, there were only two ways to Damen. One was through Petula and her posse. But given her reputation, or lack of one, those odds were not good.

Those girls had always been popular. They always would be. In fact, the whole essence of popularity was it's very unattainability. It wasn't something to be worked at or achieved. It was conferred -- by what or whom, Charlotte thought, remained a mystery.

But -- and this is where Charlotte's game plan took a much more subtle turn - if she could manage to look enough like Petula and The Wendys, act enough like them, think like them, 'fit in' with people Damen fit in with, she might have a chance with him. There was a lot to be said for "looking the part," and she thought she had gotten at least that much right.

This led her to the other way to Damen. The better option. Her preferred option, was to bypass the girls completely and go straight for Damen himself. This was a risky move, for sure, since she wasn't much of a flirt. The makeover was the necessary first step, but the next phase was make or break. She'd arranged to take classes she knew he would be in and to hang around his locker, which she was on her way to locate.

Like everyone else, Damen had never given Charlotte a moment's notice before and some make-up and a professional blowout were unlikely to change that. Still, Charlotte held out hope. Hope that if she could just spend some quality time with him, especially now that she had upgraded her exterior, things might yet work out.

This wasn't just wishful thinking on her part but rather a conclusion Charlotte had drawn from intensive observation of Damen. In the hundreds of pictures she had secretly taken of him during the years, Charlotte believed that she had detected a certain, well, decency in him. It was in his eyes, in his smile.

Damen was gorgeous and athletic and behaved exactly as an authentically handsome guy was supposed to behave -- superior -- but he was nice about it. Unsurprisingly, his decency was the thing about Damen that Petula liked the least. Maybe it was the quality she most disliked because it was the one she, and all her friends, lacked the most.

With the laughter from the cheerleading candidates still echoing in her ears, Charlotte was needing a little luck as she approached the gym. The locker assignments were posted on the double doors and Charlotte made a beeline for them. She ran her finger slowly down the alphabetized column of students, the P-Z page, glancing at their locker numbers as she searched for her own.

Each name was familiar, they were kids she'd grown up with, known since pre-school, or from elementary school, or middle school. Their faces flashed through her mind like a slide show. Then she came to her name: USHER, CHARLES. Locker: 7.

"Seven is a lucky number!" she said, taking it as a good omen. "Biblical, in fact." She reached into her backpack and took out a pencil, threw it back in and fished out a pen. She changed her name permanently from 'Charles' to 'Charlotte.' She wanted it to be right -- especially today.

Another finger-hunt down the locker list revealed Damen's locker was on the other side of the building. She headed to her locker, giving herself a pep talk the whole way.

"No big deal," Charlotte reassured herself as she tested the combination on her lock a few times, opening and closing the door, before setting off to find Damen's.

She continued to walk and talk to herself, gesturing like some theater geek rehearsing a monologue when she suddenly started to choke.

Preoccupied, she'd come to the skywalk, which was filled with smokers taking their last drags before class. The synchronous exhaling of carbon dioxide produced a thick, acrid fog and it was already too late to hold her breath. So, she walked faster. Conversations ended one by one as Charlotte passed through. Lit cigarette butts were drowned in Venti coffee cups or pounded out into the concrete, as swirly traces of smoke escaped upward all around her.

As she emerged from the haze and approached the doors at the other end of the walkway, Charlotte could see a bunch of kids gathering and backing their way down the hall like autograph hounds at the Stage Door of a sold-out show.

"Damen!" she gasped with awe.

Above the throng, all she could see was his thick, beautiful hair, but that was all she needed. She knew it was his hair. No shapers, no wax, no putty, no gum, gel, volumizer, goop or hint of metrosexuality of any kind. Just a simply gorgeous head of wavy hair. Charlotte kept her eyes on the prize as she broke into that weirdly desperate kind of run-walk that she'd used to get to the bus stop earlier, and sped breathlessly toward the locker next to his. She arrived just before Damen and the adoring crowd that had parted to let him through.

It had been a while since she had been this close to him in person and it affected her more than she thought it would. She'd viewed him, or at least pictures of him, all summer but this was the real thing.

She was star struck. As he approached, the crowd converged. The closer he got, the less of him she could actually see. She stepped into the whirl of activity around him trying to get closer still, but she was drowned in the vortex each time. On this, her first day, Charlotte found herself in an all too familiar place -- on the outside looking in.

Meet the Author

ghostgirl author Tonya Hurley's credits span all platforms of teen entertainment including: creating, writing and producing two hit TV series, writing and directing several acclaimed independent films, developing a ground-breaking collection of video games and board games and creating and providing content for award-winning websites. Ms. Hurley lives in New York with her husband and daughter. Her Web site is www.ghostgirl.com.

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Ghostgirl 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 212 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I should die before I awake,
I pray the popular attend my wake."

This is the year for Charlotte Usher. The year that she's finally going to be noticed. She's finally going to have what she's always wanted: to be a popular girl and fit in with the head cheerleader in the school, Petula Kensington. She feels that the first day of school will be the start of her new life. She'll finally have the attention of the most popular guy in school, Damen. Who is, of course, Petula's boyfriend.

In a way she does start a new life. Although it's actually her afterlife. Poor Charlotte chokes on a red gummy bear just before she leaves her first period physics class and dies. Her hopes of starting over fresh and finally being noticed for once are all crushed in an instant. Especially when she finds out that she still has to graduate even though she's dead! There's a whole class of students from her school who have died and are still attending classes there.

Charlotte isn't giving up, though. She's still determined to win over Damen. And with the help of Scarlet Kensington (Petula's younger sister) she's sure she'll be able to do it. Scarlet can actually see Charlotte and Charlotte isn't about to let that fact go to waste. She figures she can hang out in Scarlet's body and get through to Damen that way. But her new dead classmates aren't liking Charlotte's plans too much and are making it incredibly hard for her to get anything done. Plus, the more time Scarlet spends time with Damen (when Charlotte isn't in her body, that is) the more Scarlet is starting to like Damen herself.

Charlotte is determined to be noticed. She thinks that if she can just get noticed and be popular that she'll finally move on. But is popularity really what Charlotte needs? Or is it just finally realizing that you don't have to be the center of attention to matter?

This book was great. I couldn't really guess what would happen throughout the book, which I always like. Poor Charlotte has such a rough time! Especially in the beginning of her afterlife. But she pulls through and even learns a valuable lesson along the way. I loved Scarlet's character. The way she acts towards her sister is hilarious. They are total opposites in every way. I loved all the nicknames the other dead students have, too. And I thought the ending was cute. It might not have been totally realistic, but then again this book wasn't really all that realistic in the first place. So I thought the ending fit pretty perfectly. I highly suggest checking this book out.
ashley_42 More than 1 year ago
At first it bored me. It was interesting yes. But at the end it became phenomenal and unforgetable. I loved the pieces before every chapter. Worth reading=)
diedre More than 1 year ago
My librarian recommended this book to me a couple of weeks ago and I read it non stop! I identified as I think most teens do, with the characters and the desperation they all feel at times. I just ordered my own copy! This season's MUST have!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.It is very relatable to life in high school, but you learn self love and not to be a follower.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cant wait for this to come out! The first book (ghostgirl) was a really great book, so probobley this is going to be better! Tonya Hurley should make a third one after she finishes this one!
Moana More than 1 year ago
definitely gotta be smart to pick up on ironies in this book. i love that she chokes on a gummy bear, but the reason why she does is profound. this author is awesome and obviously very intelligent. i agree she's like gorey for girls. this book is smart,heart-warming with some pee-in-your-pants moments and lines. READ THIS BOOK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was such a pleasant surprise for me. I got it because of new york public library's 100 best list. It was not only the best dark romantic comedy I've read for girls, but it was also a much deeper book than I thought. I can't wait to read Homecoming! I hope this is a movie soon because it would be killer.
X2K More than 1 year ago
this book is killer. i am in college and i love to read. i didn't know what to expect when i picked this book up. i bet a lot of the references and stuff go over some people's heads and the ones who don't get it, don't get it, but it is awesome! i read it all in one sitting and i have it displayed in my dorm room. it's the coolest book i've ever read and i never read a book that made me laugh the way this one did and cry, too. this author really gets it. and for the readers who don't get it, the joke is on you. i am so happy that there are smart books out there for girls instead of fluffy no brain romance trash.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had no idea what I was getting in to when I picked up this book. The cover is awesome. I read the reviews in all the lit publications online and it got all starred reviews. I thought it might be 'too much' but man, i was wrong. It is heart-warming, cool, and edgy and HYSTERICAL. I loved all the name checks of cool bands and writers. I can Not wait until the next book HOMECOMING. this is the book i've always dreamed of finding. I could not put it down!
Anti More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very close to a teen who had similar feelings. It had moments were you felt sorry for Charlotte and moments were you wanted to slap her. I wish it would tell us more about some of the other ghost teens or let them participate in Charlottes goal for life. The ending I thought was akward and confusing, but it was still great. I recommend this book to anyone with an imagination.
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
Popularity, the handsome Damen, and a friend is all Charlotte wanted. The new school year would bring all these things closer to Charlotte, she knew it, if only she changed herself a tad bit. But the first day of junior year, things don't go as planned. After a deadly incident involving a gummy bear, Charlotte finds herself on the Other Side of the school. She is able to be on the outside looking in, without the Living Kids seeing her staring with eager eyes: something she always felt but finally came true. It isn't exactly a dream though because now Damen can't fall in love with her! Then Charlotte finds out she is still in high school but having to learn from a dead teacher about Deadiquette, though her hope to become popular is still shining. But when Charlotte discovers that one of the Living Kids can see her, her hope only shines brighter . ghostgirl was enjoyable after the first 30 pages. The beginning was dull but when I met the Dead Kids, everything was becoming 'fun'. Though the dialogue was predictable, I couldn't get enough of it! I'm not a fan of the narration (third person but completely descriptive) and the death references took up a lot of space. Things like "dying to be popular" and "he doesn't even know I'm alive" were funny the first time, but they soon became overused. Charlotte was selfish and only cared about herself (she even admitted to it) but this is the story of how hard she tried to overcome that. Her logic was interesting and her decisions made the storyline twist and turn with every chapter. The Dead Kids added so much to the story that I can't imagine it without them. They each explained their Life and their Death which was utterly fascinating. Author Tonya Hurley's voice is fun and distinctive but I'd like to see how she would use it in a different book. RECOMMENDED
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even if you do not like this book, just keep reading. Read anything from instructions on how to change toilet paper, to microwave warranties. Please...read anything in the hopes that you will learn the English language and learn to S-P-E-L-L.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great from beginning to end. The shine of the cover and pages caught my attention and got me to buy it. Then, the story itself was great too! I couldn't put it down. I would reccomend this book to any teenager. They could easily relate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever. I love it. It is wonderful and teaches a valuable lesson. I L-O-V-E it!!! At first I wasn't sure but it was so wonderful and was defiantly worth reading! If I tried to re-write this book... IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBE! Never can I get so close to writing anything like it! It would be an honor to meet Tonya Hurley.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book takes you to a diffrent type of world. looking through the eyes of charlotte and reading what its like to be a dead teenager is amazing. This book is definetley recommended.I like it alot.Reading the first few pages makes you want to read the whole book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
great book,the farther you go the harder it is to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She is a female and is bise<_>xtual. She has mid-back length aburn hair with brown streaks and green eyes that are lined and speckled with amber, peachy colored skin and freckles across her nose, curvly but on the slimmer side. She usualy explains what she is wearing in a post when she comes into the place. She is kiand, sweet and funny but she can be a royal bit<_>ch if you pi<_>ss her off. She likes food and pleasure ;) but dislikes drama and people that do stupid things to get attention. ((I have a slight spelling issue at times so please bear with me))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl, is 21, has lightish darkish gray hair with dark gray speckles and a gray sweater with a dark gray tanktop and blue jeans and long black boots with a half shaved head and silvery gray glowing eyes and a tattoo on her neck that says 'dead hearts are everywhere' in cursive, has a nice personality despite her short anger issues..., her theme song is Dead Hearts by Stars and rper is Fire eyes116
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Alexander Briggs<p> Gender: male<p> Info: former special forces <p> Personality: closed off doesn't socalize mutch
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book in fourth grade and I loved it, it got me to start reading more advanced literature. I give this book some credit for the things I've accomplished with Literature. It was what started my obsession with diving into books like a child dives into a double fudge chocalate cake. I lost the book the summer I got it and I decided to buy it again now even though it has been four years since I last held that book in hand. It is creative, original and intriguing. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That is in the love sick one not homecomming.