Sketchy Behaviorby Erynn Mangum
Drawing Conclusions or Drafting Disaster?
Other than harboring a somewhat obsessive fondness for Crispix and completely swearing-off boys after a bad date (don’t ask), sixteen-year-old Kate Carter is about as ordinary as they come, except for her two notable talents: art and sarcasm. After an introduction to forensic sketching in her elective art class,… See more details below
Drawing Conclusions or Drafting Disaster?
Other than harboring a somewhat obsessive fondness for Crispix and completely swearing-off boys after a bad date (don’t ask), sixteen-year-old Kate Carter is about as ordinary as they come, except for her two notable talents: art and sarcasm. After an introduction to forensic sketching in her elective art class, Kate discovers a third and most unexpected gift: criminal profiling. Her photo-quality sketch helps the police catch a wanted murderer and earns her celebrity status in South Woodhaven Falls. But when that murderer appears to be using his friends to exact revenge, Kate goes from local hero to possible target. Will she manage to survive? Will life ever be normal again? And will local news anchor Ted Deffle ever stop sending her flowers?
Sixteen-year-old Kate Carter's life goes from normal to anything but when, for a school art assignment, she perfectly captures the face of a serial killer, a situation that both catapults her into fame and threatens her security.
Mangum's squeaky-clean thriller, aimed squarely at Christian girls, is narrated in the first person by a heroine trying very hard to be snarky, without success—she's just too nice.It's an up-and-down affair in both tone and substance, dull voids punctuated with unexpected action, some of which is nearly impossible to buy. After an intriguing set up, during which the savant sketch-artist heroine draws a serial killer so exactly that he's almost immediately recognized and caught, the story languishes until someone takes a potshot at Kate during a parade. It seems that the serial killer has at least one deadly friend in St. Louis County, a situation that raises the stakes for Kate and the people who surround her. It also causes her to reexamine her feelings about God and faith, a topic the author handles deftly and with a light hand, and sets the stage for a possible romantic friendship with a churchgoing boy.
The action-packed, sealed-with-a-twist ending strains credulity beyond the cracking point, but it finally engages the reader, who will likely close the book smiling. (Thriller. 12 & up)
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Read an Excerpt
By Erynn Mangum
ZondervanCopyright © 2011 Erynn Mangum O'Brien
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI GUESS IT WOULD MAKE SENSE THAT SOMEONE LOOKING death in the face would be shaking violently. I just always figured suicides were a little bit calmer.
My friend Madison Hanson was perched precariously on the edge of the one and only bridge in South Woodhaven Falls. And while the name sounds impressive, the Falls, I think, refer more to the direction gravity flows than any large quantity of water. A river about five feet in depth and about thirty feet across was directly below us.
Enough to get her wet. Not enough to kill her. Which was why I was more concerned about Madison's essay — which counted toward a fourth of her final grade in English and was most likely in the backpack strapped onto her — getting washed away in the muddy water than I was about her imminent end.
"Maddy, what are you doing?" I asked as casually as I could. I kept walking at a nonthreatening pace toward the railing. She was on the other side, hands behind her holding on to the rail.
"It's over, Kate." She sniffed and I saw tears coursing down her freckled cheeks. Madison, in any other circumstance, was really cute. Coppery-red hair, almost-violet blue eyes, on the tall-ish side.
"Me and Tyler." Her voice was trembling almost as much as she was.
I have this theory about guys and it goes like this: Until they reach the age of about thirty-two, they're not even worth associating with, much less dating. All you get is a bunch of tear-soaked Kleenex, awkwardness for everyone around you when you pass in the hallway after your inevitable breakup, and apparently, suicidal tendencies.
This was where I would like to have started the "I told you so" monologue, because I did tell her so, but I didn't have time for that.
Madison was still on the wrong side of the railing, after all.
"Maddy, Tyler's a jerk."
She sniffed. I got a little closer.
"But even if he wasn't a jerk, no one is worth you jumping into the Falls." And ruining your A+ in English.
Blinking like crazy, Maddy croaked out, "I know."
"So why are you about to jump?"
She shook her head. "I didn't know what else to do, Kate. I hate feeling like this."
My dad is an engineer. And as such, he has very few spontaneous emotions left inside him, because they try to breed those out of potential engineers freshman year. Deep down, I thought this was why nerds are so often picked on — God knows that someday one of them will have to make a life-or-death decision about leaving a man on the moon, or how to dig out a town covered by an avalanche, or whether or not to nuke a communist country, and they'll have to do it all with zero emotions and a hundred and thirteen percent logic.
All that to say, Dad has a little saying that he told me from the time I was six years old: "Basing a decision on a feeling is like trying to balance an egg on your head while you're on a pogo stick. It doesn't turn out well for you or the egg."
Which was when my mom, who has a psych degree and bases everything on feelings, would say, "No, if you base a decision off of a feeling, it's like holding the egg steady in your hand while on the pogo stick. All you're left with is the feeling of accomplishment." And then my parents would argue for the next ten minutes.
My childhood was interesting.
I wasn't sure if Madison would benefit from either of my parental unit's sayings, so I came up with my own.
"Maddy, life is like an egg."
She frowned and looked at me for the first time. "What?"
"When life feels broken and the heat gets turned up, just remember: You're being made whole again."
"What are you talking about?"
Okay, so it was a bad saying. I'd have to work on that.
"Could you just come back to this side of the railing?" I asked her. "It's cold, school starts in twelve minutes, and you need a Kleenex."
She rubbed at her nose with the back of her hand, which was quite disgusting. "If I go to school, I'll have to look at him all day."
"No, you won't. You don't even have a class with Tyler."
She sighed. "But he comes by my locker every break."
"That's because you were dating, not because he had classes down that hall."
Her shoulders fell and the tears started again. "But we're not anymore, are we?" Her voice reached an impossible decibel level at the end of that sentence. A beagle started wailing in the distance.
"Please just come with me? I'll guard you the whole time. You won't even know he existed. Besides, you need to make Tyler think that you're even better off without him than you were with him."
She looked at me again. "Better off?"
"Vindication, Madison Hanson. Let Tyler know that he can be the big mean football player all he wants. You are better than him."
Slowly, she climbed back over the railing. "Better off," she mumbled again.
"Much better off." I wrapped an arm around her shoulders and tried to push our speed a notch faster. I hadn't been late to class in exactly six days. Considering that the principal, Mr. Murray, has had it out for me for the entirety of my two and a half years at SWF High, it would be in my best interest to be on time.
* * *
We made it by thirty-four seconds. The bell rang just as I gave Maddy one last hug. "You're better without him."
"Right." The red splotches on her face were still tattling her breakdown this morning, but her eyes looked clearer. As clear as bloodshot blue eyes could look.
I turned to run to my locker down the hall.
This year being my junior year, I got to pick from a better-rounded list of electives. Which is why I dumped my backpack in my locker, grabbed my sketchpad and pencils, and hightailed it to art, my preferred elective. I'd always been good at drawing and SWF High's art teacher, Miss Yeager, was probably one of the best teachers at the school. She was twenty-six, extraordinarily attractive, and liked to push us to be more detailed.
I plopped into my seat right as the second bell rang. There were fifteen of us in art class, all gathered around four tables that faced the front of the room.
"Good morning, guys." Miss Yeager had a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch seated in front of us. His only redeeming physical quality was his emerald-like green eyes.
"This is your test subject," Miss Yeager said. "I want you to draw him how you see him. You'll have the entire class period for this. Work quickly. Begin now."
I set my sketchpad in front of me and pulled out a soft-leaded pencil. To my right, Allison Northing was scraping big, dramatic strokes on the page. She drew the way she talked. On my left was Justin Walters, who has never spoken to me once in all of my life, but whom I'd been sitting next to in class for the last two months at SWF High. He was lightly running the pencil over the page in wispy little lines.
I stared at the man. Late forties. Wrinkles crisscrossed his forehead. His hair was cut short, embracing the thinning instead of hiding from it. I decided I liked that quality. His lips were thin, his nose slightly crooked like he broke it when he was younger, and like I said earlier, his eyes were stunning.
Smaller shoulders, the paunch, the legs that barely filled out his gray dress slacks ... I got the feeling he was a go-to guy the higher-ups turned to, either at a mathematical company or government-run organization.
"Kate." Miss Yeager was suddenly beside me. "You haven't drawn anything."
"I'm still looking," I told her. "What does he do for a living?"
"What do you think he does?"
"I think he works for the government in environmental law."
Miss Yeager just looked at me. "Catch me afterward, okay, Kate?"
I nodded, biting my lip as she left. Probably another slap on the wrist for buying into stereotypes. Could I help it that the man looks like he does?
Silent Justin looked over at me as Miss Yeager left and then back at his sketchpad. A faint head was appearing on his paper.
I picked up my pencil.
It wasn't enough to merely draw the man — anyone could do that. You had to draw what was behind the man, and I didn't mean the chalkboard. What drove him? What captivated him? What made him get up every day?
These are what led to the wrinkles, the balding, the bad sense of fashion.
By the end of the hour, I had a decent sketch of the man's head and shoulders. The bell rang, and Miss Yeager had us applaud our subject and let him exit first. Then she dismissed us.
I waited until everyone left before I walked over to where she was pushing the man's chair back against the wall.
"You wanted to see me?"
She sat on her desk and folded her hands together. "Carl Thompson is a lawyer specializing in defending the aquatic and biological programs implemented by the government."
"I was right?" Now I was surprised.
"How did you know that?"
"You could tell he worried a lot, he had calluses only on his right hand, which meant he wrote a lot but he didn't work outside, he looked tired ..." I shrugged. "I don't know."
Miss Yeager smiled at me. "I'm excited to see where you take this, Kate. Better run if you're going to make the next class."
I nodded and left. The rest of the day passed in a blur. I checked on Madison about forty-three times and each time she seemed sadder and sadder.
* * *
I got home and Mom was already there, pulling out a package of chuck steak. "Hi, Kate," she said, laying it on the counter. "How was school?"
"Fine." The perfunctory answer. "How was work?"
Mom sighed, cutting open the package with a knife. "I swear, Kate, ninety percent of the people I see have absolutely nothing wrong with them." She paused and then waved the knife at me. "But you breathe a word of that to your dad, it's your head."
I held my hands up. "Yes, ma'am."
"Good. Go feed Lolly."
I dropped my backpack on the floor and started yelling. "Lolly! Lolly!"
Our big, black Labrador came running, looking all sleepy eyed. "Was someone napping?" I cooed at her.
She was named Lolly because when we got her as a puppy, she had this big pink tongue that just lolled all over the place. She still did.
It was gross, but we all still loved her anyway.
"And Kate?" Mom called, as I dumped a big cup of food in Lolly's bowl.
She came around the corner and looked at me. "I want you to keep the doors locked whenever you are at home by yourself. Apparently, there's some guy they're calling John X who has committed three murders. One in Warren County, one in St. Charles County, and one in Franklin County."
All surrounding counties to St. Louis County, where we lived.
"Statistically, the odds are outrageously low that he would pick our house for his next target," I told Mom.
"Statistics or not, keep the doors locked."
* * *
My family had dinner at 5:32 every single night.
My dad liked it because three and two make five, so he found it funny in his weird engineer sense of humor. My mom tried for 5:30 every night but always ran two minutes late.
We sat at the table, and it was just the three of us. We still left a chair there for my older brother, Mike, but ever since he moved to California for school he'd been home twice.
But his chair was still there. "Just in case," Mom always said.
"In case what? He flies home in the middle of a semester?" I asked. Mike was following in our dad's footsteps and becoming an engineer. He was not going to leave in the middle of classes that intense.
"Just in case."
And so we left the chair.
As was the custom she borrowed from my grandmother, my mom held both hands out for the prayer. Dad grudgingly put his fork down. "God, bless the food. Amen," he mumbled. "Kate, what did you do in school today?" he asked immediately after.
"Well, we drew a guy."
"I meant math. What did you do in math today?"
"Algebra. Same as yesterday."
"Are you understanding it?"
He nodded. "Good girl. See, Claire? Both kids are well on their way to becoming engineers. Keep the Carter name going."
"I thought reproducing kept a name going, not becoming an engineer," I said. "Some people might consider those mutually exclusive, actually."
Dad rolled his eyes. Mom laughed.
"However, this one is sarcastic," he said, pointing to me.
I hated it when Dad talked like I wasn't there.
Dad had this grand illusion that I wanted to be an electrical engineer. When, in all reality, I wanted to be an artist. But artist is on the same playing field as a car wash worker or a gift wrapper in the mall as far as my dad is concerned.
We finished dinner, and I started my three hours of homework. I closed my last book just in time to change into my pajamas.
I snuggled under the covers, turned out the light, and sighed. Same as always, always the same.
If I'd known then that my life would never be the same again, maybe I wouldn't have been so depressed by that thought. I drifted to sleep slowly.
Excerpted from Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum Copyright © 2011 by Erynn Mangum O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I absolutely LOVED THIS BOOK! When I first started reading I was instantly hooked by the main girl, Kate's sarcasm and humor. She had me in stitches before I turned two pages! I also like how Kate's life gets turned up side down by a series of unfortunate events.most of which I'm thinking someone will lose their job over and/or get sued for. Anyway this book had me trying to figure out what would happen next and I rarely guessed right. AND near the very end there's a COMPLETE TWIST THAT I DID NOT SEE COMING AT ALL! You guys like art or humor or life-or-death mystery? Then you guys should read this book. I SO hope that this is the first in a series because this is just AWESOME! PLEASE LET THERE BE MORE!
Sketchy Behavior By Erynn Mangum Kate Carter is just an ordinary, unnoticed 16 year old girl until her art class assignment captures a serial killer. With notoriety thrust upon her, Kate is now in the spotlight - exactly where she doesn't want to be. With the police watching her every step and news crews camped out in her front yard Kate is a national celebrity. But soon she's the target of the now jailed serial killer's friends. With nightmares keeping her awake, fear dogging her every step, will Kate discover what comes after death before the next bullet finds its mark? Sketchy Behavior is an intense book that realistically portrays high school life for someone who likes to remain in the background. With twists you're not expecting Sketchy Behavior holds your interest to the very end! I for one hope South Woodhaven Falls will be the scene for more adventures. Fabulous work, Erynn! Reviewer copy provided by Z Street Team.
Very fun to read! A must-read for Middle-schoolers!
I loved this book and i recomend it to anyone BECAUSE ITS SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :):) :) :)
One word- AWESOME!!!
Loved this book. Wish it were a series because it ended much too soon.
So while looking for a book called Sketchy, this one keeps showing up. Thought nothing of it. But after reading Sketchy and loving it, saw book on the shelves at the library and thought, eh let's give it a read and see what happens. I had heard nothing about this, kept away from the reviews. Glad I did because this book made me smile. Honestly, liked this more than I thought I would. Love the sense of humour it has going while still having its serious moments. My favorite characters in this are definitely Masterson and DJ. Nice that the parents are in this AND no love triangle or insta-love! Let me repeat that, no love triangle and no insta-love Just a friendship with a hints of something and that's it! Do you know how long its been to find a book like that has none of those in it? It was a very pleasant change of pace. Speaking of the characters, tell me there wasn't any bromance moments with DJ and Masteron whose described as a less girly, rough handsome looking Orlando Bloom (Kate's words not mine), I mean how freaking adorable were those two. I liked that they were like older brothers for Kate, wanted to give them a hug. Made think of Ari, Janco and Yelena from Poison Study. Want to hug those two! Kate and Justin: adorable! Again, the parents are involved in the story and doing something. Kudos to the author for doing that. Thank you! Moments where I couldn't help but laugh, smile and cheer for a certain grumpy softie someone. Love the references, to which I was smiling throughout honestly, I think I was like, ohhh I got the reference! You know you found a good book, where you think it doesn't need a sequel, but no I feel like this one deserves a sequel (which I don't say, if at all, often, for non sequel, non companion books.
I started reading this on tuesday and finished it 2days later. It was that good. The characters were really good but sometimes it was hard to under stand what was happening. The police officers were the only ones that got confusing. Like D.J. But you have to read to find out about John X! Opps!
I loved it. I really hope it is a series :D :D :D :D :D :) :) :) :) :) !
Im like addicted to ncsi and the main character sounds exactly lik Caitlyn Todd! Please let this be a series!!!!!!!!!!
This book could not have been better. It was absolutely incredible. Erynn Mangum never fails to impress me!!!!!
Totally read it
I so loved this book! Kate was hilarious! A must-read!
Best book ever. Good plot & characters, very funny, and had lots of unexpected twists. Hope they make a series.
I love all of Erynn Mangum's books, and this one was no exception! I love her sense of sarcasm and humor, but the story line was also really interesting as well. Highly recommended, especially while it's only $2.99 right now!
This was a very well-written book with an interesting plot line. The characters are well-developed and have realistic personalities. I would definitely read this book over and over. I loved how you can connect with Kate and her family. All of their reactions and the way they interact were real and helped increase the excitement of the plot. I think I liked it because I could sympathize with Kate. I would've reacted the same way she had when realizing that this was not just a one second fame thing. I was so glad that she had found God at the end and I hope she amd Justin get together. All in all, it was really good and a great buy.