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"... a plot that is big on empowerment for the female teen, while exploring the conflicting emotions, uncertainty, and dreams ...
"... a plot that is big on empowerment for the female teen, while exploring the conflicting emotions, uncertainty, and dreams that are prevalent in those "between" years.
... a story about a young woman who has character, a sense of compassion, strong commitment, determination, and understanding beyond her years. We see the questions about ethics, compassion and morality arise and how they are handled.
This is a very good portrayal of the teen years, addressing some of the issues that are faced, the challenges and opportunities that can arise, and the choices that are made. Best of all, we watch Mattie bloom before our very eyes and grow into what she calls, 'the real me.'"
~~Kim Green-Spangler, Womenonwriting.com
"...a charming young adult novel about love and identity. Mattie, the first-person narrator, is a spunky heroine who takes charge of her life, makes mistakes, dusts herself off, and tries again. Kevin, her heartthrob, is both believable and appealing. The plot moves quickly with enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing about whether-and with-whom Mattie will find true love.
I predict that young adults who enjoy the romance genre will be thrilled with The Real Me."
~~Debra Stang, eBook Reviews Weekly
I curled my toes as I stepped barefoot onto the cold metal scale in Dr. Adam's office. I exhaled, then held my breath. Maybe I'd weigh a few ounces less if I didn't have so much air in my lungs.
I watched carefully as Dr. Adams's slim fingers pushed the marker farther and farther to the right. I felt my face turn redder and hotter with every clink marking off yet another pound.
Finally the scale balanced. Dr. Adam marked the weight on my chart. She looked up at me and smiled. "You need to lose twenty pounds."
Twenty pounds! I wanted to scream. Instead I struggled to sound cheerful. "But Dr. Adam ... I'm five-eight. I think I carry my weight well."
"'Carry' is a good word, Mattie," Dr. Adam said. "It's not good for you to lug that extra weight around." She glanced at the clipboard. "I see by your records that you've always had a tendency to be plump." She opened a file cabinet and pulled out a sheet of paper. "Here's a sample of a good diet. You should be able to lose a pound or two a week, especially if you exercise more." She pulled out another piece of paper. "Here are some exercises you might want to try. Move around. Walk more. Your muscles are too soft for a girl of sixteen."
"I'll try to follow this," I said, as I looked over the diet. There was obviously no point in arguing with Dr. Adam. She was all business. Why, I wondered, did good old Dr. Murdock have to retire?
After Dr. Adam left the examination room I stepped into my jeans, sucking in my stomach as I tugged on the zipper. I pulled on my baggy brown sweater and stuffed the diet and exercise sheets into my notebook. As I stepped into the hall, Dr. Adam called out.
"Make anappointment for a couple months from now, Mattie. For an official weigh-in."
As I made another appointment I could feel the eyes of everyone in the waiting room staring at me. I hurried out of the office hugging my books to my chest and fighting back angry tears. Darn that Dr. Adam. She didn't have to be so ... so bossy.
At least my parents would sympathize. They knew it wasn't my fault I was a throwback to my great Aunt Matilda, for whom I was named. The resemblance wasn't limited to wide-set green eyes and frizzy brown hair. We had the same fleshy build.
I moaned to myself at the thought of exercising. Not that I minded exercise so much. It was the side effects. Like heavy breathing. Sweating. My idea of strenuous labor was picking cat hairs off the sofa cushions.
And, I suddenly realized, I had just allowed myself to be railroaded into heading the refreshment committee for my Junior Prom. So that meant, while watching my weight, I had to comb recipe books for rich, yummy, calorie-laden cookies. I pondered the injustice of it all.
"Watch where you're going, Chunk!" ordered the tall bony boy I had just slammed into and almost knocked over, since I hadn't, in fact, been watching where I was going.
Startled by the impact, I dropped my books all over the sidewalk. I frantically gathered my papers and shoved them into my notebook. If there was anyone I didn't want to know about my enforced dieting, it was George Turner. He bugged me enough as it was.
Well, I would show George. I would lose twenty pounds. That wasn't so much, really. I probably carried home twenty pounds of books from school every day. And when I was thin, if George ever dared to call me Chunk, I could just smile and suggest that he not refer to me by such an inappropriate nickname. Yes, I would show George.
But now I had to figure out how I was going to find a date for the prom. As head of the refreshment committee I would have to be there. However, I didn't want to go alone and wind up with the eighth graders, passing out cookies and punch all night.
Just how was I going to round up a date? Sometimes it seemed as if I was the only sixteen-year-old girl in Waterside, Connecticut who'd never had a date. Maybe losing weight was a good idea. Maybe when I was thinner getting a date wouldn't be such a problem. Maybe I could even get a date with someone special. Someone like ... Kevin Laconia.
Kevin had moved to Waterside a year ago, and I, along with the entire female population, had noticed him right away. And not just because Waterside was such a small school and all newcomers were scrutinized.
What girl, after all, could resist one of the few boys at Waterside High who was not only tall and broad-shouldered, but tremendously good looking, with his wavy black hair and thick-lashed gray eyes? The corners of his mouth turned up so that even when he was serious he had a good-to-see-you-smile that lead even the shyest girls to think that a date with him was possible.
Unfortunately, he had immediately started dating Nicole Sandhurst--blonde, beautiful, shapely and always one of Waterside High's best dressed.
Nicole upheld the family tradition, established by her mother, of dating only the best looking, most popular boys around. Nicole's mother had not only been Junior Prom Queen and Senior Cotillion Queen, but at nineteen had reigned as Miss Connecticut in the Miss America Pageant. Nicole had a lot to live up to.
I almost dropped my books all over the sidewalk again. I recognized the voice of the person behind me who had said Hi. Though my heart pounded I tried to sound composed. I turned around, but avoided looking into his eyes. "Hello, Kevin."
It was then that I also noticed Walter Mattesky. "Oh. Hi, Walt."
Too bad I wouldn't be walking alone with Kevin. But maybe it was just as well. I wasn't sure I had the nerve to talk to Kevin by myself, anyway. I did want to say something, however, to break the silence that seemed to hang in the air like a limp balloon. For once a topic of conversation occurred to me. Timidly I asked, "Are you set for the game tonight?"
If Waterside won, we'd go to the state basketball tournament for the first time in five years. Kevin was a starting player. Walt, who came up to my lower lip, was the team manager. He kept track of the basketballs and team jackets, and handed out towels.
"We're ready!" Walt exclaimed.
"Ready as I'll ever be." Kevin smiled and raised one eyebrow. "Are you going, Mattie?"
"Yes," I said, trying to sound matter-of-fact about it. I wouldn't miss it for anything since Kevin would be there. Of course, I couldn't let him know that.
"Great." Kevin squeezed my shoulder and turned to cross the street. "See you there."
"So long," said Walt.
"B-bye," I stammered. Kevin actually touched shoulder! I could still feel the warmth of his hand. I strayed off the sidewalk right into the gutter.
"Mattie, this is the way home." Walt cupped his hand under my elbow and guided me back up the curb and around the corner.
"What?" I ran my fingers through my hair, trying to hide the fact that I was blushing. "I mean, uh, I was thinking about the, uh, refreshments for the prom and I guess I forgot to watch where I was going."
"Say, I wanted to talk to you about the prom," said Walt.
"Oh?" I looked down into Walt's golden-brown, owl-like eyes. "What about it?"
"As you know, I'm in charge of decorations."
"Our theme this year is 'Underwater Fantasy."
"Well," he said eagerly, "how about if we form a joint committee to coordinate the decorations and refreshments?"
"Sounds interesting," I said. I'd known Walt since second grade and he always came up with good ideas. "What have you thought of so far?"
"We could have cookies shaped like shells, starfish, even doubloons--underwater treasure aspect, you see--and make the punch green. Like seawater. What do you think?"
"There are lots of possibilities. The cookie idea sounds great. Let me think about the punch tonight and we can talk about it some more tomorrow."
"Fine," said Walt. "I'll stop by your house on the way to school and we can talk about it then."
"Sure--wait! No." I had an idea on how to get some exercise. "I'll stop by your house on the way to school."
"But I live a half mile farther from school than you do."
"That's just it. Uh, we'll have more time to talk. And besides, I could always use a bit more exercise." I forced a small laugh, trying to sound nonchalant.
Walt didn't question my motives. "Fine. 7:30?"
"Great. See you then." I smiled to myself. I had found an inconspicuous way to get some exercise. I wouldn't have to be tempted by cookies and punch--I could think of them as shells and seawater. Also, I had more reason than ever to stick with my new weight-loss plan. Kevin.
Kevin had put his hand on my shoulder. Kevin had asked if I was going to the game. Kevin had said he would see me there.
I couldn't wait to tell Erwina!