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This Is What I Want to Tell You

This Is What I Want to Tell You

4.0 7
by Heather Duffy Stone

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"Intense and lyrical, Heather Duffy Stone's story about transformations wrenches the heart and then puts it back together again, stronger and better for having read this book."—Carrie Jones, author of Need



and unexpected secrets


"Intense and lyrical, Heather Duffy Stone's story about transformations wrenches the heart and then puts it back together again, stronger and better for having read this book."—Carrie Jones, author of Need



and unexpected secrets

Nadio and his twin sister, Noelle, always had a unique bond. And somehow, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But when Keeley spends the summer in England, she comes home changed, haunted by a dark memory. As she and Nadio fall in love, they try to hide it from Noelle, who's jealously guarding a secret of her own. Slowly, a life-long friendship begins to crack under the crushing weight of past trauma, guarded secrets, jealousy, obsession . . . and an unexpected love that could destroy them.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This compelling first novel is structured as a confessional, with 15-year-old Noelle and her twin brother, Nadio, alternately telling their sides of a story. When their best friend, Keeley, returns from a summer abroad, the twins view her differently. Noelle has become resentful of the opportunities awarded to her wealthier, strikingly beautiful friend; Nadio now finds himself attracted to Keely. He and Keely soon become involved in a secret romance while Noelle strikes up an unlikely relationship with archetypal-bad-boy Parker, a cook she meets at a party. The story's appeal lies mainly in its unveiling of secrets, but Stone also offers insight into feelings of jealousy and lust. Noelle's growing bitterness is clearly defined, as is Nadio's chilling realization that he possesses the same "animal instinct" as a boy who sexually assaulted Keely in England ("Just for one second, I knew what he felt like. That's the part I can't get rid of"). Readers will likely guess that poor judgments made by both siblings will lead to explosive confrontations, but that won't lessen the story's dramatic impact. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Twins Nadio and Noelle have always shared a close bond, but part of what held them together, their friend Keeley, now keeps them apart. When Keeley returns from a summer abroad, both Noelle and Nadio are forced to redefine their relationships with each other and with their friend. Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of each twin, this story reveals the destructive secrets that each harbors and the redemptive power of their love for one another. The voices of the two main characters are regrettably indistinguishable, making the switch between perspectives distracting. Ultimately Noelle's story becomes much more powerful than Nadio's, overshadowing it to the point that his chapters serve only as an alternate point of view for her tale. The lack of traditional punctuation for dialogue only furthers the disconnect. However, while its execution is flawed, the story is powerful and engaging and worthy of attention. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Read an Excerpt

This Is What I Want to Tell You

By Heather Duffy Stone


Copyright © 2009 Heather Duffy-Stone
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7387-1450-9

Chapter One


I can't tell you exactly what happened, but I can tell you part of it.

My part.

I once read that you should always write about what you know, that what you know will tell the best story. What I know now is that the stories people tell are always about our insecurities, about the things we left behind, and about the things we wish we could do again. The real story isn't about what you know; it's about what you wish you knew then.

The story I want to tell leaves some stuff out, because to tell all of it is too true. And some stuff needs to be kept secret.

Here is something true. I met him at a party. His name was Parker. The party was at Jessica Marino's older brother's loft in the city. It was loud and dim and dirty, the way lofts are in your imagination. Jessica and I both wore black eyeliner smudged in thick clouds around our lashes and tore our tank tops into jagged pointy Vs. Jessica's brother mostly ignored us and we hung in the corners of the room, trying, without admitting it, to make our faces pout and suggest, like all of the faces we saw around us, like all of these faces who seemed older and better and barely noticed us.

I saw Parker when he came in; he was taller than everyone else and wore a black hat tilted low over the left side of his face. He swaggered. He knew people. His eyes pierced even from far away.

He looked like everything I wasn't.

The whole room was dirty and a little bit faded. I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there. I felt like in that moment I wanted to be the kind of girl that he'd want to talk to. I felt like I wanted to be a rock star.

Then it happened. He started talking to me. He came up to me when Jessica was in the bathroom and I was hugging the perimeter of the room.

Hey, he said, and it felt like I was dreaming.

He asked me who I knew. Up close his eyes were cold- water blue. Everything about him was long and lean. He was wearing a black T-shirt and right here in front of me I could see it was faded and thin and his shoulders pushed through it, straining the thin fabric. His hair was a million kinds of brown-pushed up on one side like he'd been sleeping, or like the hat, now gone and forgotten, had shaped the hair it left exposed.

He asked me where I was from and I said something about Jessica's brother and I wondered why he was still talking to me.

Damn, you're beautiful, he said. I saw you right when I walked in. What's your name?

Noelle, I whispered.

No-Elle, he said, and I watched his tongue pause against the back of his teeth at the end of my name. It had never sounded like that before.

No-Elle, he repeated, as if it were something different. As if it were his.

I can't even tell you, that feeling when someone calls you pretty, your whole face feels hot and then the rest of your body gets hot and then everything around you turns blurry.

How come I've never seen you before, he said.

And I knew he was older but it suddenly occurred to me that he wasn't that much older. And that I had him completely fooled. That all of it, everything, was in my hands. I'd never felt that way before. I leaned my head to the side so a piece of hair fell over my eye.

* * *

The thing I need to tell you is that before this night, Keeley Shipley was my best friend. All summer she'd been away from home. I got a job that summer at the Cree-Mee stand and I worked with Jessica Marino. I knew Jessica from school where she wore black eyeliner and corduroy miniskirts and seemed to know a secret that nobody else in Geometry knew. She was the kind of person who makes you feel like there is a whole other life out there and it is way better than the one you are living. That summer I rode around in Jessica's car after work and we smoked joints and felt bored and waited for something to happen. The whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that something was happening in Keeley's life and it had nothing to do with me.

Keeley was my first friend-besides Nadio, my twin brother. We had this thing that a lot of kids don't have-this connection where we just got each other. Like we were meant to be friends. For ten years the only person who understood anything about me was Keeley Shipley. For most of those ten years I didn't even notice how our lives were different. How her sweeping house on the hill shadowed ours. How she was so beautiful everyone just stared at her. How everything near her seemed to turn the color gold-really. But the thing was, the thing that made it all okay, was that Keeley never seemed to notice any of this either. But then she went away. Then she started to live this whole life outside of our life. Then my brother Nadio and Keeley Shipley fell in love and that was the end of everything I knew.

The night I met Parker, Keeley and Nadio weren't in love yet, but I think I knew it was coming. The night I met Parker was the last real night of the summer. The night I met Parker I was almost the same age as our mother was when she bought a one-way ticket to Italy and met our father on an overnight train. The night I met Parker was the night Keeley was coming home; but when Jessica called me and asked me to go to this party with her, it was like I just knew I had to go. I didn't leave Keeley a message or anything, I just went. Like I forgot that was the night she was coming home.

Except I never forgot.

My brother only remembers a photograph of the three of us meeting, but I remember the real first time I saw Keeley. She had pale, pale skin and millions of freckles and I thought her face was the most amazing thing I had ever laid eyes on-so many tiny painted freckles, and white-blonde hair-it turned gold as we got older but that first day it was almost white. Keeley didn't hide behind her parents the way other kids did around us. She was never intimidated by the fact that there were two of us. She just walked right in, and she fit.

Before that summer everything was quiet. Everything was Nadio and me and Keeley, everything was the orchard where we lived and the hiking trails around us and our bikes along the road and sleeping in between our houses in tents. Through sophomore year, most of the time it was like we had the world to ourselves. Then Keeley flew to England for the summer and Nadio started running all the time and Jessica Marino started to drive me around in her car. That world we'd had to ourselves wasn't there anymore. There was a whole new one.

When I met Parker I thought I could make him fill in all those spaces and gaps that my brother and Keeley left behind, even though the shapes were all wrong. I'd never seen anyone like him-no one like him had ever paid attention to me.

He had tattoos. Not just a few but a lot. Up and down his arms and across his shoulder blades. I only saw some of them that first night, but I could see their points and edges beneath the sleeves and above the neck of his shirt. I tried not to stare.

Hey, it's okay, he said. Look at them.

And he turned his arms over and pointed at them and told me where he was when he got each one-it was like a whole history of his life, right there on his skin, carved in with needles and ink and painting him from one place to the next. And there were so many places.

My first one, he said about a huge Celtic symbol on his right shoulder. I got this one in Boston when I was visiting my cousin. You know, Celtic warriors used the art on their bodies to intimidate their enemies.

I didn't know that.

On the back of his hand, a symbol that looked like swiftly painted lines. He put his palm down on my thigh and that tattooed hand was framed by my jeans, his fingers sending chills through the fabric.

It's the Chinese symbol for fire, he said, nodding down at his hand. You know, its warmth, its danger all at once, and it's my-you know you need fire to cook, and that's what I do.

You cook? I asked. I could barely concentrate.

Yeah, he said. He turned his hand, lifting his fingers from my jeans, letting the breath out. On the inside of his wrist a spiral starting small, wound tight at the veins at his wrist and then unwinding, snaking all the way up to the inside of his elbow. A serpent.

You know, temptation, he said.

He had a tattoo that ran in a column down his spine-it said

what does not destroy me makes me stronger

in straight, black heavy script.

What almost destroyed you? I asked him.

But that was later. That was a different night. I didn't see the one on his back that first night.

* * *

My brother and I are telling this story because we realized that it wasn't one story, but two. For the first time, the things that happened to us looked so different. Even Keeley, who had always been there in both of our eyes, suddenly became two different people. I always thought I was the only one who knew who she was exactly, but last year I realized I didn't really know who anyone was-Keeley, Nadio, much less me.

Keeley had been in England all summer and the night she got home, I wasn't there. I was meeting Parker. She and I had never been apart for more than a few days, not since we were five years old. But what was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to just sit and wait for her all summer?


Excerpted from This Is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone Copyright © 2009 by Heather Duffy-Stone. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Heather Duffy Stone writes stories and essays that are mostly inspired by high school—either her own or someone else’s. This Is What I Want to Tell You is her first novel. She has lived in Vermont, England, Los Angeles, rural New York and Rome, Italy. For now she cooks, sleeps, explores, writes and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

Heather Duffy Stone writes stories and essays that are mostly inspired by high school—either her own or someone else’s. This Is What I Want to Tell You is her first novel. She has lived in Vermont, England, Los Angeles, rural New York and Rome, Italy. For now she cooks, sleeps, explores, writes and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

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