How Not to Spend Your Senior Year

( 40 )

Overview

Rule #1: If at all possible, don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Specifically, don’t play dead. Trust me on this one. I did it, so I should know.

Jo O’Connor has spent her whole life moving around. When it comes to new schools, there’s not a trick in the book about starting over that Jo doesn’t know. But life is about to teach her a new trick: how to disappear entirely.

Rule #2: Always expect the Spanish...

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Overview

Rule #1: If at all possible, don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Specifically, don’t play dead. Trust me on this one. I did it, so I should know.

Jo O’Connor has spent her whole life moving around. When it comes to new schools, there’s not a trick in the book about starting over that Jo doesn’t know. But life is about to teach her a new trick: how to disappear entirely.

Rule #2: Always expect the Spanish Inquisition, no matter what anyone else does.

They have to move again. Now. This very night. Jo knows better than to argue. Her dad is the key witness in a major case against a big-time bad guy. But Jo just can’t resist one last visit to the school where she’s been so happy. All she wants is to say good-bye. That can’t cause any problems, can it?

Rule #3: Never assume you can predict the future.

Now Jo’s one last visit has landed her smack in the middle of a ghost story. Specifically, her own. By the time it’s over, she’ll have a whole new set of rules about what’s real, what’s make-believe, and—most of all—what’s important.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Josephine Claire Calloway O'Connor, a teenager from no place in particular, has spent most of her life moving with her father, Chase, around the country from place to place at a moment's notice. After receiving mysterious phone calls, Chase packs their things, chooses a place on the map, and moves them there. At the beginning of the story, they move to Seattle, Washington, and Jo begins her first day at Beacon High School. She falls in love with Alex Crawford at first sight and becomes best friends with Elaine Golden. Problems arise when Chase informs Jo that he is in the witness protection program and that they have to move again, but this time they have to fake their deaths. Willing to do anything to protect her father, Jo agrees to participate, but she cannot disappear without saying goodbye to her new friends. When she does this, her visit stirs rumors of her ghost haunting the school. This is a skillfully written romantic comedy. Jo's struggle to find her identity is an issue that many young girls face. Her recognition that what makes her happy is just being herself is a valuable lesson for readers to learn. 2004, Simon Pulse, Ages 8 to 12.
—Sherrica Hill
KLIATT
From Cameron Dokey, the talented author of over 25 YA novels, comes an innovative, unusual "can't-put-this-down" story. When senior wallflower Jo O'Connor finally questions why she and her father move so often (20 times since the third grade), she's not happy about the answer. It includes previously unknown information about her mother's death and the announcement that not only must they move one more time before they can settle down, but they must leave right away and leave her mother's picture behind. This can't be happening! Jo has finally found a place that feels like home. She's found a school she actually likes. She's finally made a best friend. And, to make matters worse, Alex Crawford asked her to the prom, and now she can't go! She can't even say good-bye. Life can't get any crueler. Then, Jo must pretend to be dead. Dead! With a new name and a new look, Claire Calloway tries to move on and quiet Jo O'Connor's past, but it flies in her face every time she turns around. The result is a riveting, fast-paced, illuminating story of love at first sight, friendship and high school survival techniques. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 293p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Lynne Marie Pisano
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Because she and her father are in a witness-protection program, Jo O'Connor has moved, again. She's done it so often that she has a flawless system: blend in. Unfortunately, on her first day as a senior at Beacon High in Seattle she breaks her own rule, with dire consequences. She's noticed by Alex Crawford, BMOC, and is sucked into a whirlwind of friends and popularity. It's not her plan at all, but she finds that she's enjoying herself, and she may even consider being Alex's prom date. Before she can even ask her dad for money for a dress, she discovers that they have to move again. This time, though, she has to pretend to die because her father is the key witness in an important trial, and those he's testifying against want him dead. Then, she goes back to her old school, in disguise as Claire Calloway while keeping in contact with Alex as "Jo's ghost." Sound confusing? It isn't as long as readers are willing to suspend disbelief that Jo won't be recognized by everyone who has seen her picture in the paper (even with her wig and new name). Those looking for a quick, easy read, complete with Shakespeare references and a ghost being elected prom queen, will love this book. With its appealing cover and lighthearted story, it's ideal for reluctant readers as well.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442460560
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 3/9/2012
  • Series: Romantic Comedies Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,014,479
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Cameron Dokey is the author of How Not to Spend Your Senior Year and nine Once upon a Time novels for Simon Pulse. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The story you are about to read is 100 percent true.

No, honestly.

Of course some things have been changed to protect the innocent. But you'd expect that. It's standard operating procedure when it comes to based-on-true-events stories. If this were a techno-thriller, I could say SOP. And I suppose I could anyway. Parts of my story are quite thrilling, though there really isn't anything particularly techno about them. Except for this one part where...

Okay. Wait.

I can't believe this is happening.

I'm only a couple of paragraphs into this, and already I'm starting to tell things out of order. A thing which is pretty danged annoying, I must admit, though it does bring up an important question, which is as follows:

Where does my 100-percent-true story truly start?

I suppose you could say the whole thing started the day I was born. I'm thinking that's a bit extreme, though. As an alternative, I'm going to go with the third grade, which I think makes me about eight years old. I'm choosing this because that's the year my mom died, and my dad and I moved for the very first time.

Actually let me rephrase that. This is an important point, and I need to make sure I get it just right.

That's the year my mom was killed in a hit-and-run collision, and my dad and I moved for the very first time.

Way back then, of course, I had no idea that these events were related, or that changing location on the spur of the moment was, paradoxically, about to become one of the most important constants in my life.

Just how often did we move? Let me put it this way: To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person in the entire United States to have attended fourteen different elementary schools between the third and sixth grades.

That's 3.5 schools a year, in case you're counting.

The pace slowed down a little bit in junior high to 2.5 schools a year, then settled down to an even two for the years I was in high school. Except for senior year, of course, but I'll be explaining more about that in a moment.

Why did we move so much? You're no doubt also wondering. The answer to this one is pretty simple.

I don't know.

Or, here's more of that getting-it-just-right thing again: I know now, but I didn't know at the time. I didn't even ask about it, to be completely honest. By the time I was old enough to question the way we lived, I was so used to the way Dad and I did things that I thought it was normal.

I did stop unpacking my suitcases after a while. This isn't nearly as weird as it sounds. You put your clothes away in dresser drawers. I put mine away in suitcases. In both cases, folding was involved. It also wasn't nearly as depressing as you might think. In fact, you can pretty much stop waiting for me to reveal my inner-trauma girl about this, because I simply haven't got one.

Over the years my dad and I developed a routine when it came to moving. Actually two routines: One for leaving a place, and another for arriving in one. But no matter where we went, the living quarters were always the same: a furnished apartment. This was another aspect of life I simply never thought to question. I think I was about twelve before it finally dawned on me that not all dwelling places came complete with couches.

Regardless of the apartment's location, my father and I always performed the same action upon stepping across the threshold for the very first time. We looked for the perfect location for this big gold-framed photo of my mom. Dad packed it in one of his own suitcases, but he always let me pick out the spot for it. Without fail, I looked for a place that would let me see Mom's picture the moment I walked in the front door.

Not that we were morbid about this or anything. We both knew my mom was gone. But we didn't have to pretend she'd never existed, my dad said. Getting out the photograph was just one way of demonstrating the way she lived on in our hearts.

Our leaving routine was slightly more complex and involved two distinct phases. Phase one involved Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin. These always came in late at night and went on for several nights in a row. Though the calls were another thing I got so used to I never questioned my dad directly, I did come up with a couple of theories about them:

a) They came in at night in the hope that I would be asleep and not hear the phone ring.

b) Dad never talked long, so it couldn't be a new girlfriend. Therefore, the caller had to be another guy.

I mean, can we just get real here for a second? I'm a girl. When do I not hear the phone?

After a couple of days, the Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin would cease as abruptly as they'd started. A day when nothing special seemed to happen would go by. Secretly I'd begin double checking my suitcases, making sure everything was in order, because I knew what was coming next.

That would be phase two. In phase two, The Map got involved. The really big one of the whole United States that covered the entire kitchen table when we opened it.

"Hey, Jo-Jo," my dad would call out as he heard me come in the door. Dad does freelance research. Or maybe, considering our lifestyle, the term should be free-range. He spends most of his day sitting in front of his laptop looking things up for people he almost never sees. Not your standard Dad-type job, I must admit, but it did have an advantage for us in that he could work from home no matter where home was.

He calls me Jo-Jo because that's my nickname. My full name is Josephine Claire Calloway O'Connor, if you have to have it all spelled out. Usually I'm just called Jo. Or, occasionally, Jo-Claire, if my dad is seriously annoyed with me about something.

Dad's name is Chase William, a name I've always thought sounds exactly like a relay race. I've never heard anybody call him by either one of his first names. Instead people call him Con. That's short for O'Connor, not a negative character assessment, by the way.

"Guess where we're going," my dad would say, gesturing to The Map while I put my backpack on the counter and headed to the fridge for the glass of juice I'd poured before heading out for school that morning. Just another example of being prepared. I probably would have been a Girl Scout if we'd stayed in one place long enough.

"Is it warm and sunny with no big bugs?" I'd inquire. This had been my standard question since I was ten, mostly because I thought it described Southern California. If we had to move, why not close to Disneyland?

"Sunny and warm?" my dad would exclaim, scrunching up his face in mock horror. "Where's your sense of adventure, Jo-Jo?"

"Gee, Dad, I don't know. But if you give me a minute, I'll find it and pack it."

At this, my father would laugh and tousle my hair, a thing which occasionally resulted in juice ending up on the floor.

"Here. We're going right here, sweetheart."

With these words, Dad would point to a spot on The Map. He never pointed at anyplace even remotely close to Disneyland, a thing I probably don't need to tell you. Pretty much without fail, my dad would have selected some town that even the people who already lived there had barely even heard of.

Not only that, but for some reason I've never even attempted to explain, my father seemed particularly attracted to towns whose names begin with the letter B.

Which explains how I ended up living in Bemidgi, Minnesota; Bottom, North Carolina; Braintree, Vermont (actually, East Braintree); and Boring, Oregon.

Boring was the last small town we lived in, though. And also the last place beginning with B, now that I think about it. I was about to start high school by then, and the next time my father got The Map out, he announced that, for the duration of my high school years, we'd be living in a metropolitan area environment, as this would be better for my overall development.

I have no idea how he came to this conclusion. Let's just say I didn't argue.

After Boring, we moved to Clackamas, which wasn't all that far away but did have one key feature of a metropolitan environment which definitely improved my overall development: shopping malls. It also started with the letter C, which I had to figure meant Dad and I were making some sort of progress, even if I didn't exactly know what kind. That's where I began my freshman year.

I finished it across the Washington border, in a place called Enumclaw. I am not making any of these names up, just so you know. Enumclaw is actually slightly east of Clackamas, in a longitude and latitude sort of way. I think it was right about then that I developed this sudden fear that, having spent most of my childhood moving in a westerly direction, my father was now going to touch base at the Pacific Ocean, then start moving us back the way we'd come.

Before I could get up the courage to ask about this, however, we moved again pretty much straight north, to a place called Issaquah. This did allay my moving-back-east fears, though the thought that we might might be headed for the Canadian border did begin to cross my mind.

The rest of sophomore, all of junior, and the beginning of senior year we spent bouncing from place to place on what people in the greater Seattle metropolitan area call the Eastside, by which they mean the east side of Lake Washington.

Right about the time I was beginning to worry that my father had developed a water phobia, about two thirds of the way through senior year, we got a flurry of Phone Calls of Mysterious Origin. As a result, we finally did it. We moved to Seattle. And it's in Seattle that the main events of my story actually take place.

There you have it. My childhood in a nutshell.

Before I get completely up to date, though, there's a thing you absolutely must know. I don't particularly relish confessing this, but I pretty much have to. If I don't, nothing that happened later will make any sense to you at all.

Now that I think about it, I suppose I could have started my 100-percent-true story right here. On my first day at Beacon High. That's the day I did the very last thing I expected.

I fell head over heels in love.

Copyright © 2004 by Cameron Dokey

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book!

    This is a pretty interesting book. It is funny and the story is fascinating and the writing is really good. I thought that some of the parts between Jo and Alex were blah, but otherwise I really like this book and I recommend reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2007

    normal reader: aka, book lover

    this book was my first and favorite simon pulse of the teen romance comedy series 'some are written by different authors'. They are funny, but so true to real life. although, if you read too many of them, you wind up figuring out the ending of some of them...so don't read too many of them. unfortunately, they do get boring. BUT THIS ONE WAS AWESOME!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2006

    How Not to Spend Your Senior Year

    this is my favorite book. it's just so brilliant and funny.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2006

    AWESOME!!!!

    if you like mystery,love triangles, and romance you'll LOVE THIS BOOK!! i love the end, the plot was really interesting but you actually have to read it to understand it. i give this book a standing ovation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Wasn't too sure,but then...

    my friend made me read it! :D i enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    An amusing book

    This story is an interesting one. It would probably be considered a romantic comedy, but it is not your typical romantic comedy. This one has a twisted plot (in a good way) and a quirky sense of humor. The drama in her life is amusing and makes for some good light reading. Not a very heavy book that makes you think, but it is still enjoyable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    This twisty turvy novel is a great way to see how even different cliques work, and a good way to show that people aren't always what you peg them to be. Making a new life is probably difficult. If i had to start over w/ a new identity.... I'D GO PUNK!!!!! =D OK anyways, great great GREAT book, you can't put it down. But be careful, the ending, is not at all what you'll expect!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    Very Good!

    This book was suprisingly very good. Though the reason I gave it a four was because I have read very simular books with the same plot. You will deffintly enjoy it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    How Not to Spend Your Senior Year

    this book was outstanding . i had a good time reading the book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2006

    LOVE IT SO MUCH

    This book was so great i couldn't put it down...again i love it!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    i give this book a standing ovation.

    i loved this book. this book was different, and i liked the plot a lot. i liked how she wasn't obsessed with boys, like a lot of other characters are, and how she and the guy didn't really get together till the end when everything was said in done. all and all, this book was superb.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2006

    How not to spend your senior year

    The book was fantastic and Extraordinary. The author made it had suspense and it didn't make you put the book down, Like you just couldn't put the book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    awesome

    i loved this book i couldnt put it down. and i really hope there is a sequel

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2006

    where is the movie for this?

    I love this book. It has a really great plot line, andsome intresting charecters. Jo is so funny!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    You can't put this book down!

    I love reading books that make you feel like your there! This book is definatly one I couldn't put down. It is soooo good. The beginning, middle, end, plot, EVERYTHING is awesome! /font

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2005

    The best book ever!

    I personally loved it, it was funny anhd entertaining thru the whole book.It was also not insipidf and stupid.It made sense and the plot was dying out loud laughing funny.I personally loved the fact that she ends up with the guy you would like her with but because of her stupid obsession woith Alex will probably never get with, but she does.It is so funny how she pretends to die and then come back.The whole journalism thing is awesome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    Ok, but not the greatest book i've ever read...

    this book was ok, the beginning, was eh, but the rest of the book was ok. there were a few interesting parts, but it got a little confusing toward the end. it was a good plot and all, untill they start talking about her being a ghost, which really annoyed me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    AWESOME

    This is a must read book. I loved the humiliation that Jo/Claire goes through. I couldn't put it down. I thought that it was a incredibly great book. I have read it many times. The characters are great. The Author was great at catching all of the character's feelings and humiliations. This book is a great book for teens who want to read about romance in between teens. My favorite part of the book was when Jo/Claire met Mark London and they were obviously sparks that you could read about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2005

    OMG THIS IS SO GREAT!!!!!

    this book was soo god!! I couldn't put it down. My mom was always yelling at me to put it down. I've alreay read it 5 times now. Even my friends love it. The beginin was a little boring, then i got into it.it's funny and it keeps you guessing. I think there should be a sequel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2005

    WOW

    I really enjoyed the book. I think everyone should read it and its funny and romantic at the same time

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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