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I take no prisoners. . .
I'm Chelsea Halloway and I will happily destroy your social life if you mess with me. Just ask anyone. There is no situation I can't handle. Divorcing parents? No problem. An ex-boyfriend who wants to date Smith High School's biggest geek instead of me? Just a ...
I take no prisoners. . .
I'm Chelsea Halloway and I will happily destroy your social life if you mess with me. Just ask anyone. There is no situation I can't handle. Divorcing parents? No problem. An ex-boyfriend who wants to date Smith High School's biggest geek instead of me? Just a matter of time before I can make him see reason. At least, until my parents decide to ship me off on a study abroad trip to Cambodia. . .
Now instead of being admired as the queen of the Notables, I'm stuck with a bunch of college students who don't take me seriously, and a professor who accidentally landed himself on the wrong side of a drug lord. And it's up to me to get us all out of the country alive--even the annoying jerk with the green eyes who won't stop calling me "princess."
Oh yeah, what could possibly go wrong?
It never should have happened.
Oh sure, in the movies, the geeky girl gets the guy, but let's all get real for a second: High school doesn't actually work like that. No way. The absurdly sweet (yet popular) guy might continue being tutored by the geek, but he also keeps making out with his beautiful ex-girlfriend until they decide to give their relationship another shot.
That's how it should have worked, but apparently my good luck had run out a long time ago.
Because even as I gazed into the gray eyes of my perfect hockey-captain ex-boyfriend, Logan Beckett, and put it all on the line: told him point-blank that I missed him and wanted to get back together—I knew it was too little, too late. Instead of kissing me back when I leaned in and pressed my lips against his, he took a step away.
His eyes were full of pity. "I'm sorry, Chelsea. I just ... don't feel the same way about you anymore."
Then he glanced over at his best friend Spencer's house and everything sort of clicked into place. He wasn't throwing away everything good that was still between us because he hadn't forgiven me for my middle-school mistake. Oh no, he was firmly rejecting me, Chelsea Halloway, because he was more interested in dating the most awkward girl at our high school. Actually, thanks to an embarrassing YouTube video, Mackenzie Wellesley had accidentally raised her profile beyond the hallways of Smith High School until she became best known as America's Most Awkward Girl.
Yet he was still choosing her over me.
It didn't make the slightest difference that I'd been in the midst of pouring out my freaking heart to him when he shot me down. That I was willing to grovel for ever breaking up with him and explain that, regardless of the rumors circulating in the wake of our breakup (mainly that I was ecstatic to have traded Logan in for a more popular high school boy), I'd been a wreck over our split.
But instead of hearing me out and then sweeping me off my feet in a passionate kiss ... he just shook his head.
"Sorry, Chels. Take care of yourself, okay? I've got to—"
He had to scurry off to locate the girl who was so much smarter and sweeter and better than me in nearly every way. Leaving me, quite literally, out in the cold. No amount of pain from our first breakup had prepared me for this level of hurt. Nothing compared to smiling until my cheeks ached while I watched Logan leading a stumbling Mackenzie to his car with a transparent affection he never once showed me.
And I couldn't even cry without becoming fodder for another round of rumors.
"Hey, did you hear that Chelsea had a total meltdown at Spencer's party? Girl has some serious issues, if you ask me."
That was what I would have to pretend not to hear following me down hallways ... into classrooms ... even into the dressing room of Mrs. P's School of Ballet.
So I did exactly what everyone expected of me.
I tossed my long, shiny, blond hair over my shoulder, sauntered over to the nearest, hottest available guy, and began flirting like I didn't have a care in the world. As if my heart hadn't just been trampled over with a Logan-shaped footprint. But I forced myself to keep my voice even and my eyes dry because even the slightest crack in appearances could be enough to de-throne me as the Queen of the Notables. Which is why, instead of bawling my eyes out, I batted my baby blues at some guy whose name I didn't bother to learn before making my getaway.
My mom always instructed me that it was best to leave them wanting more.
Of course, she had said that in the context of my dance recitals, but it applied to flirting too. In both cases, it takes a lot of practice to hide sweat, nerves, and performance anxiety, but if you let any of it show, it kills the magic. And I had spent enough time faking happiness that I could flirt while replaying exactly how it felt to have Logan's lips against mine one last time—soaring hope and an overwhelming sense of rightness as my body recognized that this was exactly where I belonged.
But apparently Logan hadn't felt any of it.
I maintained that stupid fake smile even after a stranger splashed beer on my shoes as I headed toward the door. It was only when I was driving home that I began ranting to myself about the cosmic unfairness of realizing that I had never gotten over my first love only to find out that he had definitely gotten over me.
But it became pretty obvious when I pulled into my driveway that my night wasn't about to get any better. Because waiting for me by the door was my dad's suitcase. I had his teaching schedule memorized, and I knew for a fact that there were no upcoming academic conferences scribbled on the kitchen calendar for months. There was no logical reason for his luggage to be slumped against one of our enormous ceramic flowerpots.
Unless I was finally getting to see the closing night performance of the divorce walk of blame.
Not just a trial separation. Not a temporary experiment. Not something that would blow over eventually, like it always did. Nope, this time he was really leaving.
And you would think that losing both Logan and my father in one night would forever earn it the terrible distinction of being the very worst evening of my life. My personal all-time low. Rock freaking bottom.
But it wasn't.
It's funny how being hunted down by a group of certifiable bad guys in a third-world country can change a girl's perspective on what constitutes a tragedy. Not ha-ha funny, obviously. It's more of a laughing is my only alternative to disintegrating into a million pieces type of funny. When your every decision is a matter of life or death, even truly ridiculous amounts of personal drama fade into insignificance.
Hunt or be hunted.
Hide or ... wind up with a gun aimed at your head.
I found that out the hard way.
My dad tried to break it to me gently.
"Now, Chelsea," he began in his dry professor voice, which I suspected made most of his students at Lewis & Clark College struggle to stay awake during his two-hour lectures. "You know your mother and I have been having some problems for a while now."
That was the understatement of the century, skating brilliantly over the fighting, the squabbling, the incessant bickering, the "trial separations," the therapy, the self-help books, and the return for even more therapy and positive visualization exercises. For as long as I could remember, they'd been unhappy together. Possibly because my mom's pregnancy wasn't exactly planned and she felt pressured into doing the "right" thing, according to her very Catholic upbringing. And then I was born and they were even more determined to hold their farce of a marriage together.
Probably because their therapists kept urging them to consider what was best for the child before making any hasty decisions.
If anyone had ever bothered to ask me, I would've set the record straight: One quick break would have been a lot easier to deal with than their constant on-again off-again emotional warfare.
That kind of stuff makes for good television but a really crappy home life.
"You don't have to treat her like a child, Paul!" my mom squawked indignantly. "It's not like she's too young to understand this!"
She was right about one thing: I could handle the truth. But my mom wasn't actually telling my dad to treat me like an adult; she only wanted to use this as yet another example of how he coddled me too much. Yet another one of my dad's habits that rubbed my mom the wrong way. Not that there had ever been a shortage of those. My mom was practically born with an ability to multitask, to set specific goals and not back down until she achieved each and every one of them (according to her exact specifications), which is probably what makes her such an incredible businesswoman. She has standards that she expects everyone to meet and preferably exceed, and a deep-rooted conviction that my dad's inability to employ her brand of "tough love" was what kept me from reaching my true potential.
"This is a very sensitive situation, Suzanne!" my dad countered. "You know what the books said about possible ... reactions."
"It wouldn't be a problem if you didn't spoil her all the time. For god's sake, she's not made out of glass. If you spent a little less time with your nose in a book you'd know that!"
"And if you spent less time at your corporate retreats—"
I couldn't take any more.
"So about that divorce," I interrupted. "Good plan."
About freaking time.
I kept that part to myself. No need to give them anything else to squabble over. They already debated my upbringing enough. I was too wild. Too prone to hanging out with the "wrong crowd." Too many boyfriends, not enough IQ points. Too skinny. Too fat. Too much of something, they usually decided. And that, missy, was usually only the beginning of an epic lecture.
"We want you to know that we considered all of this very carefully," my dad assured me, running a hand through his graying hair. Back when I was a little kid, I spent hours in my dad's office, drawing stick-figure ballerinas while he graded papers until his hair stood up in tufts just as it did now. At the time, I thought he resembled a very handsome duck with his feathers ruffled. I wanted to look just like him, but my coloring favored my mom: pale skin, thick blond hair, undeniably blue eyes, and a thin frame. My mom still loudly mourns the fact that I inherited her looks but not her ability to ace standardized tests.
I nodded and delivered the solemn response I knew he wanted to hear. "I understand. I know you guys examined all the possible alternatives."
It's about time for the two of you to finally come to your senses.
My mom somehow managed to snort elegantly in disdain. "There were no alternatives."
My mom propped her hands on her hips and mimicked his outrage. "Paul!"
O-kay ... time to get the hell out of there.
"Well, thanks for the update. I'm going to my room. I have dance rehearsal first thing tomorrow morning, so—"
My mom's eyes narrowed. "You're not going anywhere."
"Chelsea, your mother and I discussed this and ... we really think it's for the best if ... you should consider the benefits to—"
"Just spit it out, Paul!"
For once, I was in total agreement with my mom. I couldn't stand waiting for the other shoe to drop. And since I'd already been dumped, kicked aside, and informed of the dissolution of my family unit (such as it was) that night, I figured there was still plenty of time for it to get worse.
A lot worse, as it turned out.
"We think you should leave," he blurted out.
I stared at them blankly. "Leave where?"
"Here. Forest Grove. Oregon."
He still wasn't making any sense.
"Wait, do you mean leave my home, my school district, or my state? What's going on? You and Mom split and I have to join the witness protection program or something?"
"Don't be so dramatic, Chelsea." My mom buffed her shiny nails casually on the sleeve of her sweater.
"We just think some time out of town will be good for you, honey. Clear your head."
"My head is plenty clear, thank you very much!"
"It's so clear, it's empty," my mom added snidely, before she shrugged off our disbelieving stares. "What? You saw her SAT scores, Paul. Don't tell me you weren't thinking the same thing. Her grades are abysmal, her extracurriculars are a joke, she completely ignored her curfew, she reeks of alcohol, and her chances of getting into a good school are slim to none. Someone has to be the firm, responsible adult here—and it sure isn't going to be you!"
"Thanks, Mom. That's exactly what I needed to hear right now!"
"But she's right, princess. You need a totally fresh start if you're ever going to get your life together. You need accountability, intellectual stimulation, a whole new social environment, and right now ... you mother and I aren't in a place where we can provide you with those things. Trust me, princess. We are just doing what's best for you."
"You picked one hell of a time to finally start caring," I snapped bitterly, as pain splintered across my father's face.
"We've always cared, Chelsea. You know we would do anything for—"
"You're only encouraging her to act out, Paul. She needs to accept that her actions have consequences and that this decision of ours is final."
There was a sickening silence that followed her pronouncement while I felt the last dregs of anger and outrage seep right out of me. It hurt too much to care. About Logan. About my parents. About leaving. About anything, really.
All of me ached and throbbed as if I'd just spent hours dancing in brand-new ballet shoes.
Except my heart was blistering instead of my toes.
"My decisions have consequences? What about yours? You guys want to split up, fine. That doesn't mean I should be forced to leave my friends and my school and my life!"
"It's only for a semester, Chelsea. You'll still be walking at graduation with your friends. And it's exactly what you need," my mom said staunchly. "Besides, international travel will spice up your transcript."
"So how long have I got?" Even to my own ears, it sounded like I was preparing to face an executioner. Not far off from the truth, actually, since this would effectively destroy my current life at Smith High School. It would rip away my every accomplishment, leaving nothing behind. A week had been long enough to turn Mackenzie Wellesley into the underdog story of the year; six months would leave me completely forgotten.
Here lies Chelsea Halloway: dance captain, most popular Girl at school. Feared by all, missed by few. Taken Too soon.
"It's going to take some time to make all the arrangements, passport, travel visas, shots, you know, all those sorts of things. But you'll be ready to leave with the program in just under two months."
"The program?" I repeated. I hoped they weren't trying to ship me off to some religious boarding school where I'd have to say the Lord's Prayer with every meal and watch out for angry nuns. The way I saw it, if there even was a god ... then he was behaving like a total jerk by dumping all this on me.
And for stuff like allowing children to go hungry, be sold into slavery, and battle terminal illnesses.
But mainly because booting me out of Oregon now was just straight-up vindictive.
"We aren't throwing you out on the street, Chelsea," my mother scoffed. "There's no need to be so dramatic all the time!"
I gritted my teeth. "What program?"
My dad hastened to explain everything. "I asked around at work, and there's an opening on one of the study-abroad programs. At first it wasn't clear whether it would even happen because so few students signed up for it. But that's how I was able to convince them to take you along."
They both looked at me expectantly, as if I was supposed to be grateful for all the effort they had taken to ship me off.
Not so much.
"Let me get this straight: You convinced someone from your fancy liberal arts college to take me overseas?"
He didn't seem to like the way I phrased the question, but he nodded slowly.
"Okay, well, here's a problem: I'm in high school!"
"I called in a few favors, and they were willing to overlook that for me."
"I don't want to go."
"You should at least give it a chance before you write it off, Chelsea," my mom snapped. "This is going to be a great opportunity for you to spend some time figuring out what you want in life."
"I know what I don't want. And that's being stuck with a group of geeks in a foreign country."
"Aren't you the least bit curious about where you're going?" my dad wheedled.
"It's a gorgeous country known for ancient relics."
Okay, well, when he put it that way, maybe their plan wasn't entirely without potential. I pictured myself zipping around Rome on the back of some hot guy's Vespa, eating gelato and pizza, and strolling along by the Trevi Fountain. Spending time sightseeing and shopping might be just the distraction I needed after Logan's rejection.
Still, I rolled my eyes before I capitulated. "Fine. Where am I going?"
Excerpted from NOTABLE by Marni Bates. Copyright © 2013 Marni Bates. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Author Note Marni Bates, author of INVISIBLE and NOTABLE
Every high school has its own version of the Notables.
Those popular girls who can flick back their hair and smile coyly at whomever catches their interest? Yeah, I was not one of them. Not even close. I was the geek in the back of the classroom whose idea of a great weekend involved burying her nose in the pages of a romance novel.
Who am I kidding? That's still my idea of a perfect weekend.
So at first writing a book from the perspective of the most popular girl at Smith High School sounded like yet another less-than-brilliant plan to add to my list. Right up there with giving myself a haircut at the three in the morning during a fit of pique. Oh, and then there was the time I thought pulling an April Fools prank on my literary agent would be downright hilarious...
I kept trying to convince myself that this book wasn't an option; Chelsea Halloway and I were just too diametrically opposed to ever put our differences aside.
I've never been skinny, blonde, fashionable, flirty, or even slightly skilled when it comes to most athletic activities. I'm fairly certain my ballet instructor breathed a huge sigh of relief when the chubby one-girl wrecking crew (who couldn't tell her left from her right) called it quits after less than two months of lessons.
I couldn't relate to the Notables.
That's what I told myself. Repeatedly. It was appallingly easy to convince myself of that lie. Then again, graduating from high school didn't come with any obligation to reexamine my own set of irrational prejudices. I didn't fit in with the popular kids therefore they were secretly pod people who had found some way to rig the system.
That's honestly how I thought of them at the time.
It wasn't until I started listening to Chelsea's fears and insecurities that I discovered how much we had in common. This girl I had instantly dismissed as the anti-Marni faked her way through social situations too. She just had a very different set of techniques.
But both of us shared one particularly crippling fear; that we would never be enough.
Smart enough. Pretty enough. Lovable enough.
I would be lying if I said that my burgeoning friendship with a fictional character instantly silenced those voices of self-doubt. But Chelsea did change my perspective on a whole lot of things, including what makes a compelling villain.
And I will forever be grateful that she allowed me to go where this particular geek had never gone before...
Posted July 31, 2014
Posted May 19, 2014
Chelsea Halloway is the queen of the Notables. She's held the position for quite some time and not going to willingly give it up just because she's moving. Her parents are divorcing and they decided to send Chelsea to Cambodia while they deal with it all. It's going to be quite a wake up for Chelsea. She'll be traveling with a college group her father knows and it won't be all first class as she's use to. Still it could change Chelsea for the better, couldn't it?
Marni Bates is an absolute wonder at writing about teens. Her books are always well written and have characters that are relatable to any teen. I really enjoyed this one! The queen of mean getting her just dessert reached the teen girl inside of me and thrilled her. I do recommend this series for your teen. They'll see they aren't alone, many deal with the same issues. I love that Ms Bates ends her books on an upbeat note. Gives hope to all of us awkward, invisible former teens and touches the new teens in a terrifically positive way.
I found no issues in this one.
I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because it really was great seeing the Queen be dethroned.
~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review~
Posted January 23, 2014
I have been following this series from the start. Each book features a character deeply and in a new way.
Plot: Chelsea is your typical popular gal. Neglected by her parents yet forced to adhere to their standards, Chelsea is forced to leave on trip outside the country in order for her to get her life together. I think this plot plays well with character development as well as plot build up. It builds up nicely with a start that is harsh yet emotional and then flowed onward to a trip of a lifetime.
Chelsea: Even though she is a popular gal and always gets what she wants, she turned out to be quite different than what I thought. I like that the author used Chelsea's popularity to her advantage. You think that just because she is popular and has bad grades doesn't mean she doesn't know anything. She is actually quite smart and uses what she knows to her best ability. Because of her being popular, Chelsea has some thick skin. She is very blunt and very good at hiding any hurt.
Ending: I like the way Chelsea develop over the course of the story. She doesn't completely change and that's okay but she learns to be herself. She learns to love and accept herself.
This is another great addition to the series. Packing a punch with a smart-mouthed gal, Notable is fantastic.
Posted November 8, 2013
Notable is the fourth companion novel to the Smith High series and this time the main protagonist is Chelsea Halloway, and if you've read the previous books, you'd know she's the evil mean queen bee at Smith High. Of course in this book we witness the other side of the mean queen, the true side that make us instantaneously sympathize for her. All the readers, including myself, label Chelsea as the mean, jealous, antagonist like character, but in Notable you see that all of that is a facade. She just plays along with what people expect from her to the point that her parents have decided a trip all the way to Combodia would rearrange her priorities (i.e.: putting school as #1, typical parents huh?) and that's where she gets shipped off to.. A Combodia educational trip with a couple of undergraduate students. Marni Bates always takes the most ridiculous and hilarious scenarios and making an enjoyable and light book out of it. This book is no exception. These students end up on the radar of a combodian drug dealer and have to set up a deal with him in order to release their professor? that is some crazy stuff but I enjoyed it because I didn't think about how improbable the situation was. Also, I liked the banter between Chelsea as well as one of the undergraduate male students that was assigned to watch over her and report any misbehavior (yup, you guessed it, love interest!). I really liked him and thought he was a great change from the typical bad boy. Come to think of it, None of the love interests in Bates' books are bad boys. Overall, while I wished there was more depth in Notable, it was still a very enjoyable companion novel that I would recommend for readers in need of a light and fun read. I can't wait for the next companion novel because I read the first chapter of it and it sounds deliciously scandalous ;) Definitely pick up this series if you want fun, quick, contemporary readsWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2014
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