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My best friend, Lane Kim, gets dressed as she's walking to school. She basically adjusts her wardrobe so that it's a little more hip. For instance, this morning, she was wearing a pink thermal T-shirt when I first saw her. Nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't Lane. So she unfolded this tie-dye T-shirt that was stuffed into her massive backpack and pulled it on over the pink shirt. Now instead of saying, �cute little innocent girl,� she was saying, �Woodstock '99.�
Lane's been doing this almost as long as we've been going to school together, since the first grade. �When are you going to let your parents know you listen to the evil rock music?� I asked Lane as I walked beside her, carrying her jean jacket and her backpack while she changed her shirt. �You're an American teenager, for God's sake.�
Lane shook her head. �Rory, if my parents still get upset about the obscene portion size of American food, I seriously doubt I'm gonna make any inroads with Eminem.�
We stopped in front of a sign advertising a �teen hayride� as Lane put her jean jacket back on. �I have to go to that,� Lane said, pointing to the sign as she pulled on her coat.
�The hayride? You're kidding,� I said. Our town -- Stars Hollow, Connecticut -- was founded in 1779 and it's incredibly quaint and has nice old architecture and cobbled sidewalks and lots of charming, old-fashioned traditions, like hayrides.
�My parents set me up with the son of a business associate. He's gonna be a doctor.� Lane smiled as she said this, but I knew all these blind dates herparents kept setting up were a nightmare for her. Lane slung her backpack over her shoulder and we continued toward school.
�How old is he?� I asked her.
�Sixteen,� Lane said as she pulled her shoulder-length black hair out from under the collar of her jacket.
�So, he's going to be a doctor in a hundred years,� I said.
�Well, my parents like to plan ahead,� she joked.
I smiled. �And you have to go on the hayride with him?�
�And his older brother,� she said.
�Oh, now you're kidding,� I said.
She shook her head. �Koreans never joke about future doctors. So, I guess you're not going, huh?� Lane asked me.
�No. I'm still fuzzy on what's fun about sitting in the cold for two hours with a bundle of sticks up your butt,� I said as we walked up the stone steps into Stars Hollow High.
�Well, don't expect me to clear it up for you,� Lane said.
We headed for our lockers, then I went to my first class, American lit. �For those of you who have not finished the final chapters of Huckleberry Finn, you may use this time to do so,� Mrs. Traister said. �For those who have, you may start your essay now. Whichever task you choose, do it silently.�
Naturally, I started working on my paper.
The three girls who sit in front of me started putting on nail polish.
Hey, we all have our priorities.
I want to get into Harvard. They want to get into a dance club near Harvard.
After a few minutes, I could feel them all staring at me, but I kept writing.
�Maybe it's a love letter,� one girl whispered.
�Or her diary,� another said.
�Could be a slam book,� the girl in front of me added.
Sophie Larson, who sits next to me, actually got out of her chair a little so she could look over at my notebook. �It's the assignment,� she said in a semidisgusted tone.
They stared at me for a second, then they turned around and went back to their nail polish.
I smiled and kept writing about Huck. I don't mind being different. I actually sort of like it.
�Was the nail polish a good color, at least?� Lane asked as we walked up to her house after getting out of school that afternoon.
�It had sparkles in it,� I told her. �And it smelled like bubble gum.�
�Well, there's no way Mark Twain could compete with that,� Lane said as we walked through her front door. �Mom? We're home!� she called.
The first floor of Lane's house is their very cool antique shop: Kim's Antiques. It is unbelievably crowded with furniture and lamps and glass cases of collectibles, and you feel like a rat in a maze when you walk through. Lane and her mother kept calling out trying to locate each other.
�Look, we'll meet you in the kitchen,� Lane finally told her mother.
�What?� Mrs. Kim called from what sounded like deep inside an oak wardrobe.
�The kitchen!� I said more loudly.
�Who's that?� Mrs. Kim asked.
�It's Rory, Mom,� Lane called to her.
This deflated and unexcited �Oh� came back to us.
Mrs. Kim is never going to like me. �Wow, I could hear the disappointment from here,� I said.
�Come on, stop it,� Lane said.
I ducked to avoid a hanging chandelier. �It sucks that after all these years your mom still hates me.�
�She doesn't hate you,� Lane said.
�She hates my mother,� I reminded her.
�She doesn't trust unmarried women,� she replied.
�You're unmarried,� I pointed out.
�I'm hayriding with a future proctologist. I have potential,� Lane said as we rounded the corner into the kitchen.
�Go upstairs,� Mrs. Kim said when she saw us. She's not the warmest person in the world when I'm around, and she's pretty strict and traditional. It's hard for me not to feel bad for Lane sometimes. Besides hiding her clothes from her mom, she has to store her CDs under the floorboards in her bedroom.
�Tea is ready,� Mrs. Kim said. �I...�Gilmore Girls. Copyright � by Catherine Clark. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.