Recipe for Rebellion (Zodiac Girls Series)by Cathy Hopkins
Danu used to have tons of friends and did well in school. But that was before her dad went away for work and left her with her cold, workaholic aunt. As a Sagittarius, Danu longs for space and company. When she can't get either, Danu rebels at school, changing from a straight-A student into every teacher's worst nightmare. When a Web site search reveals that she
Danu used to have tons of friends and did well in school. But that was before her dad went away for work and left her with her cold, workaholic aunt. As a Sagittarius, Danu longs for space and company. When she can't get either, Danu rebels at school, changing from a straight-A student into every teacher's worst nightmare. When a Web site search reveals that she is a Zodiac Girl, Danu is skeptical at first, but soon her zodiac guardians are pointing her back in the right direction. Danu learns that she must take responsibility for her own happiness and that when life hands you a difficult card, it's how you play that counts.
Hopkins (the Mates, Dates series) kicks off the Zodiac Girls series with this somewhat silly yet quickmoving novel centering on an angry, lonely 13yearold. When her widower father goes off to South America on an archeological dig, Danu is sent to live with her workaholic lawyer aunt in a sterile apartment. Feeling neglected and friendless, Danu plays a rather forced badgirl role at her new school, hoping she'll get expelled for inane stunts she pulls off with tricks from a magic shop. But her life takes a change for the better—and the bizarre—after she encounters Joe, a cheerful fellow who runs a deli and tells her to check out his astrology Web site. When she visits the site, she learns that she has been selected as "this month's Zodiac Girl!!!!!," with Joe as her "guardian." Danu learns that Joe is the planet Jupiter "in human form," and he offers advice so she can transform her life, which she does with the help of his celestialbeing pals. These include Mars, a martial arts instructor who teaches Danu to defend herself against neighborhood bullies, and Venus, a beautician who spiffs up Danu's appearance. Despite the novel's farfetched premise, the heroine emerges as a realistic, likable character. Readers will likely find her story's happyeverafter ending quite satisfying and may well tune in for another Zodiac Girl's chance to change her life in From Geek to Goddess (ISBN 9780753458952), due out the same month. Ages 812. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
“The heroine emerges as a realistic, likable character. Readers will likely find her story's happyeverafter ending quite satisfying and may well tune in for another Zodiac Girl's chance to change her life in From Geek to Goddess.” Publishers Weekly
Read an Excerpt
"Danu Harvey Jones. Can you read us the poem you've written about family?"
asked Mr. Beecham, peering over his glasses at the front of the classroom. "And sit up straight."
"It's Dee, not Danu," I said.
"I think not, Miss Harvey Jones. We call ourselves by our proper names at this school. We don't use nicknames, and your given name is Danu. Now,
stand up and read us your poem."
I stood up and took a deep breath.
"My aunt is full of bat poop,
My brother is a twit,
My parents have deserted me,
I don't know where I fit."
A few girls at the back of the class snickered as Mr. Beecham's mouth shrunk to look like a cat's bottom.
"That's enough, Danu," he said. "Sit down. I don't think we need to hear any more of that. See me after class."
I sat down. I'd probably get detention again. I didn't care. At least there would be a few people around in there, and it would be better than going back to the empty apartment. Again.
Joele Morrison was next up reading her poem. I rolled my eyes. It was about a cute kitten playing on the grass and her ickle, lickle baby brother rolling into a flower bed. Blah. Vomitous and a half. My poem had at least told the truth about my situation, and what else was I supposed to write? About kittens and babies? Yeah, right. A kitten would die of malnutrition where I
was living now, and as for an ickle, lickle baby brother, there was just no space for anyone else. In fact, there was hardly a flower bed to roll into and not a tree to be seen.
For the rest of the lesson, as my fellow classmates droned on with their pathetic poems, I gazed out the window and thought about my old life. What were my old friends doing at this moment as I sat here having to endure
Death by Bad Poetry? I hated my life. I hated my new school. I hated everyone in it. My world was rotten.
It hadn't always been like this. I didn't always live in the rat hole that I do now. No. Once I had a life. A life I was very happy with, thank you very much.
I lived in a town in Maine with my dad, who's an archaeologist. He's famous in some circles. My mom died when I was three, and my dad had a lady from town come in to do our housekeeping. Mrs. Wilkins. She was lovely. Kind and happy and the most fantastic cook. There was always the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven when I got home. I attended the local school, and in fact I was able to walk there from our old house. It took ten minutes, through the back field, five minutes along the coast road, and there I
was. I had lots of friends. Bernie, Fran, Annie, and Jane. I had a dog, Snowy
(he was jet-black). I had a cat, Blackie (he was pure white), and I used to be able to ride our neighbor's horse. They let me name him, so I called him Spot
(he was a chestnut). There were birds and squirrels in our yard. I had a huge bedroom with a bay window looking out over rolling fields and woods.
I was happy.
One day, Dad was waiting for me when I came home from school. I could tell the moment I set eyes on him that something was wrong. At first I thought someone had died or something had happened to Snowy or Blackie. But no.
Nothing like that. Dad had been offered a year's contract working on some ancient site in South America digging up old bones and stuff. Chance of a lifetime. The one he'd been waiting for. Etc., etc. Blah-de-blah-de-blah. And that was the end of life as I knew it. Why couldn't he go and leave me with
Mrs. Wilkins, as that's what usually happened when there was a dig? I
asked. But he wouldn't hear of it. Other digs had been for a weekend, two weeks at the longest. This was the big one and would take him away for a whole year. I begged to be able to stay at the house, but he'd already arranged for it to be rented out for the year. Nothing I could say or do would persuade him to let me stay. I tried to organize it so that I could live with one of my friends, but no one had any room. I'd be "just fine," said Dad. He'd arranged for me to attend a boarding school close to where his sister lived.
He'd be back to see me during school vacations, and my aunt would keep an eye on me in the meantime. I was a grown-up girl. I'd soon adjust. That was the time I realized that he cared more about a bunch of old dead bones than he did about me, his living daughter.
"Danu, Danu," said a stern voice in my ear. It was old Beecham again. What did he want now?
"Have you been listening to anything that is going on in this lesson?"
"Yes, sir. Kittens. Ickle babies."
Mr. Beecham sighed and then went back to the front of the room. "Class dismissed," he said.
I got up to go with the others.
"Not you, Harvey Jones. I want a word."
I slumped back down into my chair. I was very popular with the teachers at this school. They were always keeping me back for "a word."
Mr. Beecham waited as the rest of the class filed out. A few of the girls turned and stared at me and then whispered to each other. I stuck out my tongue at them.
When the others had left, Mr. Beecham came and sat at the desk across from me and looked at me with concern.
"So, Danu. How are you settling in?"
I shrugged. "Okay."
He sighed again. "And how's life at home?"
"Not at home . . ."
"Ah, yes, I meant your home now. I believe you're living with your aunt?"
I shrugged again. "Yeah."
"And are things all right there?"
"Yeah." I wasn't going to tell him the truth. There was no point. Nobody could do anything to get me out of there.
Mr. Beecham coughed. "Well, Danu . . . I'm afraid we're going to have to do something, aren't we? About your attitude."
I shifted my feet and looked out the window.
"Have you got any suggestions?" Mr. Beecham persisted. "And please look at me when I'm talking to you."
I turned back to him. "Whatever."
" 'Whatever' is not an answer. I have your records from your past school,
Danu, so you don't fool me. You were a straight-A student, and now your highest grade is a D. What are you going to do about it?"
"Work harder," I muttered. I had no intention of working harder. My plan was to get expelled, and then with a bit of luck, I could go back to my old school.
Even if it meant living in the dog kennel with Snowy, I wouldn't mind.
Mr. Beecham stood up. "I hope so, Danu. I hope so. We're here to help, you know, not hinder, so I'd appreciate a bit of effort on your part. And . . . I also need to talk to you about . . . well, about your hair . . ."
"What about it?" I asked. It had taken me months to get it into decent dreadlocks. Since my hair is fine and reddish blonde, it had taken weeks and weeks of twirling and twirling before the coils stayed, but at last I was starting to look the part. I'd even wound some green and pink yarn through some of them. My dreadlocks were part of my plan. I had to look like a rebel as well as act like one.
"Well . . . don't you ever comb it?"
"But that can't be hygienic."
I shrugged. "Is there a rule that says I can't wear my hair like this?"
"So what's the problem?"
"It makes you look, well, how can I put this . . . rather unkempt."
"Do you tell other girls how to wear their hair?"
"No. I don't make a habit of it."
"Okay, then. Can I go now?"
Mr. Beecham sighed. "I suppose so."
I made my way out of the school and through the playground to the bus stop.
Girls were still hanging around, chatting and laughing. I kept my head down. I
wished that I had a friend here. I wished that I had someone's house where I
could go to and hang out in, gossiping about the day, about other kids. But no, the only place I had to go back to was the prison of an apartment where I
lived with my aunt, the warden.
She lives in a small apartment on the fifteenth floor of a tall building in a new development area. No grass, no trees, no animals, and no outside space except for a tiny balcony with one dead plant on it. Aunt Esme earns good money at her job, but she chooses to live in this no man's land because it's close to her office. Okay for her since she's never home. I felt like I was suffocating there. There's nothing to do. Nowhere to go; it's not safe out after dark because of its proximity to a rough neighborhood.
I was going to end up like that poor geranium on the balcony. Dead.
I caught the bus and sat looking out at the gloomy winter's night. We'd turned the clocks back last week, so it was dark early. On the street, people were huddled in their coats, rushing to get home out of the cold. I got off at the square where Aunt Esme lives and sloped over to her building. Up the steps, through the door, into the elevator that smelled damp, like boiled cabbage, and up to her floor. It was like being in some sci-fi movie about the future, where all traces of natural life had been destroyed and all that was left was concrete.
I let myself into the apartment, turned on the lights, and went into the living room to turn on the TV. I always did that the minute I got back, as the sounds of people on TV made me feel as if I wasn't totally alone. I slumped down to watch. No point in going to the fridge. Aunt Esme didn't buy real food, only fancy assorted lettuce leaves in plastic bags. And sometimes there was a lemon in there for her gin and tonic. She never cooked at home,
as she ate out most evenings with her job or grabbed something at the office,
where she usually worked late.
At six o'clock precisely, there was a knock at the door. It was Rosa bringing my dinner. She works as Aunt Esme's cleaner, and when I moved in, she was hired to cook and then bring me my dinner every evening as well. She's
Polish, around 20, and hardly speaks any English.
She came into the hall and pointed toward the kitchen.
"Put in microwiv?" she asked.
"No, I'll take it," I replied. "Thank you."
She handed me the dish and then left.
She wasn't a bad cook, actually, although her repertoire was somewhat limited. Some sort of goulashy thing with carrots and beans every night. Still,
better than soggy lettuce, I thought as I heated it up and took it back to eat while I watched TV.
It was too hot, and the first forkful burned the inside of my mouth. I felt tears prick the back of my eyes.
"Bat poop," I said to the empty room.
I had never felt so alone in all of my life.
Meet the Author
Cathy Hopkins is the author of the best-selling Mates Dates series, which has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into fourteen languages. Before becoming a full-time writer, Cathy worked as an aromatherapist and was a singer in a rock band. Cathy was born in England but went to elementary school in Kenya. She now lives in London with her husband and four cats. She is an Aquarius.
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