Trouble in My Way

Trouble in My Way

3.7 9
by Michelle Stimpson

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If she hadn't snooped into Karis's diary, she would never have found out that Karis went to a boy's house without permission. Now Karis is grounded, which means no modem, no iPod...and no cell phone. There's just no way a cute, popular, high-schooler can survive being cut off from the world, so Karis is forced to sneak



If she hadn't snooped into Karis's diary, she would never have found out that Karis went to a boy's house without permission. Now Karis is grounded, which means no modem, no iPod...and no cell phone. There's just no way a cute, popular, high-schooler can survive being cut off from the world, so Karis is forced to sneak around behind her mother's back. But the way she's acting makes Karis feel guilty — even if it is her mom's fault — and she doesn't like the feeling.

Her scheming is starting to cause other problems, too. Borrowing a friend's cell phone has turned into a catastrophe that may break up her oldest friendship, and the cutie she met after driver's ed is acting a little scary. Will the faith her mother has taught her be enough to help her find her way through this trouble...and show both the world and herself that she's a stronger, better person than even she ever knew?

Product Details

Gallery Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

Dear Me,

Derrick is cute — NOT! I can't believe I risked my life by having Tamisha take me over to his house instead of the football game. Seriously, if my mom found out, I would be writing my eulogy instead of writing this journal entry. And for what? Some boy who does not have one single real DVD in his famed DVD collection! I swear, every single movie he had was bootleg. I think his whole room was bootleg. His whole game is bootleg, when I think about it! He acts like one thing in the beginning, but when you look closely, you realize it's not exactly as good as the real thing. Okay, here's what happened: Tamisha took me over to his house — we synchronized our watches — she was to pick me up in EXACTLY forty-five minutes. There was no one except Derrick at his house, so I knew I didn't want to be over there too long. Anyway, we started watching a movie on the floor in his bedroom. Everything was fine at first. I mean, so long as I didn't stare at him right in the face, it was okay. I just kept trying to think about all the wonderful things we'd talked about on the phone because he was NOT as cute as I remember him. So, there we were watching the movie to the best of my ability since it was a little blurry. I was just getting beyond the fact that I had to ignore the line running through the middle of the screen, and the next thing I know, Derrick is trying to kiss and hug and all that. I was like, "Hold up! Wait a minute!" and he was like, "What's wrong, baby?" like this is some kind of bad music video. I could not believe how he was trying to turn our movie-watching into some kinda romantic rondayvu (spelling??). When we're on the phone, he's an innocent little boy, but when we were together, he was a grown octopus! I'm not saying I wasn't feeling his kisses — I'm just saying, I wasn't trying to do all that. See, I know how and when to draw the line. I know when enough is enough. Thank God, Tamisha came right on time! I was outta there so quick! I know Derrick is nice and all, but he is not the one for me. Maybe we should just be friends because #1, he is not that cute, and #2 he is having some issues right now that I cannot help him out with. I think I'll leave him alone until his hormones settle down.

— Karis Laying-Low Reed

I don't know which is more stupid — me going over to Derrick's house, or me writing about it in my journal knowing how straight-up nosey my mother is. I mean, I know that a momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do. But does a momma have to read my journal and get all up in my personal business? What about my American rights? My Texas rights? My basic human need for privacy? First my journal — next thing you know, she'll be following me into the bathroom.

The bathroom; that's a good place to go right about now.

I wait until my mother turns her back and takes a breather between the yelling spells. I'm doing my best to rise from the couch without making a sound. Her head whips around instantly. "Where do you think you're going?"

"To the bathroom," I reply, throwing in a bit of whine for effect.

"Sidown," she hisses.

I bounce on the balls of my feet, faking the biological emergency. "But I've really gotta go."

She throws her hands up in the air and they land on her hips as she half-laughs, "That's what you should have been saying when Tamisha dropped you off at your little man-ish boyfriend's house when you were supposed to be at a football game: 'I've really gotta go.' But noooo, you couldn't say it then, so don't be sayin' it now. You ain't really gotta go nowhere. Okay?"

I've already slipped back onto the couch, and I mumble, "Yes, ma'am."

My mother does a cha-cha slide over to me and pushes hot words onto my face. "I can't hear you!"

I look her in the eyes and answer again, "Yes, ma'am."

Then she takes a few steps back toward the center of our living room and reaches down to the coffee table, picking up my beloved pink-heart journal again. I still cannot believe she read it. "And what is this?" she traces over the entry until her pearl-tipped fingernail lands on what she's looking for. She wags her head as she mocks me, "'When we're on the phone, he's an innocent little boy, but when we were together, he was a grown octopus.' What's that supposed to mean, huh?"

Mrs. Clawson, my pre-Advanced Placement English teacher, would have appreciated my fine use of figurative language. "It's just a metaphor, Mom."

"A meta-four!" She slams my journal shut, and the resulting puff of air makes her soft brown bangs do the wave. "According to this diary, it would have had a meta-five and a meta-six, given a few more minutes. Tell me, Karis, what would you have done if Tamisha hadn't come back to pick you up when she did, huh? What if Tamisha hadn't been on time? What if you had started 'feeling' your little boyfriend's kisses? Then what?"

I want to tell her that, first of all, Derrick is not my boyfriend. But somehow I think that might damage my case, so I keep that bit of information to myself. The second thing I wish I could tell her is that there was no way I would have done anything stupid with Derrick. I want to tell her that I timed things precisely to protect myself from crossing the line. I also want to tell her that Derrick and I talk on the phone for hours at a time and I have intense feelings for him. Next to Tamisha and Sydney, Derrick is my best friend, kind of. Well, I used to trust him until he turned into that eight-legged marine creature. Besides, he is really only a six on the face and body scale. When I saw him on the basketball court, he looked like Bow Wow. But when I saw him up close at his house, he looked like maybe he could be Bow Wow's half brother. Plus one of his front teeth was longer than the other. Believe me, my mother does not ever have to worry about me sneaking off to Derrick's house again.

Nonetheless, my mother would not understand these things. She's a minister. Need I say more? So in response to her question about what I would have done, I default to my standard answer, which turns out to be the stupidest thing I can say. "I don't know."

"You don't know? What you mean, you don't know? I betcha Derrick knows. I betcha Tamisha knows. I know what would have happened, 'cause it happened to me and that's how I ended up pregnant with you when I was your age. You think I don't know what boys and girls your age do when they're together for hours unsupervised? And, really, it don't take hours. It only takes a few minutes to do something that can change your life forever!"

She stands there for a minute, towering over me. I jump a little when, out of the corner of my eye, I see her right hand approaching my face. It's moving too slowly for a slap, so I calm down a bit as she puts her forefinger and thumb on either side of my chin, raises my face, and makes me look at her.

Her light brown almond-shaped eyes are a mirror of mine. We've both got the same eyes, the same light brown skin, the same dark brown hair and roughly the same skinny shape. Right now, my mom is about three inches taller than me. But if it weren't for her pudgy stomach and her wider hips (which she, of course, blames on me), we could probably trade jeans. Everybody says we look more like sisters than mother and daughter. She thinks it's a compliment. I don't. Who wants to look like her mother? But these eyes, they are both mine and hers. And just when I see a pool of tears forming in them, she points me toward the hallway and says, "I can't stand to look at you right now."

I wish she'd make up her mind. Does she want me to look at her or not?

Minutes later, we start with the all-too-familiar routine. She comes into my room to collect my cell phone and my modem. I can keep the computer for the sake of school. I can go on the internet in the den, but only for academic purposes. There goes my social life.

"Where's the iPod?" she asks.

This is a new one. "That, too?" I protest. "Daddy gave it to me!"

She raises her eyebrows. "And?"

I cannot believe my mother is this mean! This is straight boo-dee, but I can't say so without getting into more trouble — not that that's possible at this point. Slowly, I reach into my Louis Vuitton drawstring bag and pull out the hot pink iPod, a gift my father gave me only two weeks ago to celebrate my sixteenth birthday. Unlike the other items she's taking away, this one hurts. I try real hard, but I can't stop the tears from falling down my cheeks. It feels like she's taking my daddy away from me. Again.

That's all she ever does is take, take, take. She takes my freedom, she takes my friends, my family, everything! I think she wants to take my life because she didn't have hers. She missed the homecoming games because she couldn't find a babysitter, she missed her senior prom because I had pneumonia, and she didn't graduate with her class because she had to sit out a semester. Basically, she lost her teen years when she got pregnant with me at sixteen — but how is that my problem? Why do I have to pay for her mistakes? I'm not my mom, and she's not me! The more I think about it, the madder I get.

My mother takes the iPod in hand and wraps the headphone cord around the rectangular box as she walks toward my bedroom door. I want to scream something from one of those poor little rich girl movies — something like "I wish I was never born!" — but there is always the possibility that my mother will do her best to make my wish come true by killing me now. The safest thing I think I can get away with while she's still in the room is crossing my arms on my chest. I'm pushing it.

Somehow, my mother sees me and says under her breath, "Keep on and you won't be getting a car for Christmas."

I know she did not just threaten me with the car my daddy has already promised me for Christmas when I pass my driver's test! "What's the point? It'll just be one more thing for you to take away from me." Who said that? I hold my breath and wait to see what my momma will bop me with. She's got a cell phone, a modem, and an iPod in hand. Those shouldn't hurt too badly.

She keeps her back to me as she grabs hold of the doorknob. She stops and takes a deep breath. I feel like I'm in a movie theater, waiting for the bad guy to jump out of the closet and attack the innocent victim. But instead, my mother says in a calm, even tone, "For your sake and mine, I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that because I don't believe that God has called me into the prison ministry."

When my mother shuts the door behind her, I bury my face in my pillow and scream as loud as I can without letting her hear me. That's when the door opens again and my journal comes flying across the room, barely missing my head. I grab the journal and, for a moment, consider ripping each page to shreds. I still don't understand what gives her the right to read my stuff. In that whole forty-five-minute lecture she gave me, she never once mentioned the violation of my privacy. Where is the justice?

Instead of destroying my journal, I grab a pen from my desk and write:

Dear Me,

Mom just read my journal. Here is what I'm thinking:

#1 — Nothing happened at Derrick's house, so I don't know what the big deal is.

#2 — I can take care of myself, which was actually proven in the journal!

#3 — What gives my mother the right to just go in my room and pick up my journal and read it?

#4 — If my mom keeps me from getting the car that my daddy promised me, I will leave this house!

#5 — Derrick does not look like Bow Wow. Do not ever fall for a guy that you have only seen from the 9th row up in the stands at a basketball game.

Maybe I should stop writing all of my personal stuff down. But if I do that, who will I tell all my problems? I mean, I have my friends, but they don't understand me like this journal does. No, I can't give up the journal. I will just have to find a good hiding place for it.

— Karis I've-Been-Wronged Reed

Now I'm searching all over my room for a journal hideout spot. I've got to hide it in a place where it's so out of place no one would ever look there. There again, I have a problem. My mother might have the voice to be a minister, but she's got a nose that could outsniff a hound dog. She can smell trouble all over me. When I was little and I got a bad note from school, I could barely get off the bus before she'd say, "Something's wrong with you. What happened at school today?" And since I've never been a good liar (at least not to my mother, anyway), I'd have to break down and tell her the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I'm searching through the closet now for a place big enough to hold a journal but small enough to be inconspicuous, and that's when I decide to forget it. Deep down inside, the truth is: I don't want to hide things from my mother. Once again, the tears start to sting my eyes. It bothers me that she read my journal. My mother and I have been living in this house alone for the last five years. When she and my father divorced, she got the house and me. She's always talking about how we only have each other and God. Always talking about how levelheaded I am, what a blessing it is to have a daughter who is so self-reliant. So what made her think that she had to read my journal? What happened to the trust? In a way, I feel like she deserves whatever she got for reading it.

I figure the best thing I can do is stop writing in the journal until I'm eighteen, at which point I can do and write whatever because I will be grown. You hear me — grown! I cannot wait for that day! Go where I want to go, do what I want to do, answer to nobody but myself. And God, I suppose, but that shouldn't be too hard, since He already knows everything.

I close my journal and put it where I have always put it — in my top drawer. If I can't have my privacy and if my mother can't trust me, then...whatever. That's on her, except right now it's on me because I'm the one who's grounded. There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

Copyright © 2008 by Michelle Stimpson

Meet the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an educational consultant who lives outside Dallas with her husband and two children. She has also served as part of the writing and editing team of Heartbeat magazine, a publication of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas.

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Trouble in My Way 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KLBCHOICES More than 1 year ago
Karis Reed went to a guy's house without her mother's permission and she wrote about it in her journal. Janice Reed found out about her daughter's little visit and she was not pleased. She did not hesitate to ground Karis for being with this guy in his home without adult supervision. Karis felt the punishment she received was unfair, so she decided she was going to do what her mother told her not to. She soon dealt with feelings of guilt, followed by one problem after the next. Karis thought she was always being punished because of the mistakes her mother had made as a teenager, as if her disobedience had nothing to do with it. For a good while there it was obvious she had no clue how to take responsibility for her actions. Instead of seeing her part, the problems in her life were always someone else's fault. Yes, there were times when her parents blamed her for things she did not do and that was unfair, but she brought it on herself with all of the scheming and dishonesty. It became difficult for her parents to believe her even when she was telling the truth. Karis kept a journal and that helped her to cope with life's situations; especially when she had no friends to reach out to. But when she learned to take her issues to God and to pray for others she began to care about making better choices, honoring her mother and becoming a person of integrity. Trouble in My Way is Stimpson's first young adult novel. She did a really good job! I loved the story, mostly because it made me laugh.
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MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
Trouble in My Way is a thoroughly engrossing and realistic portrayal of how young people often see nothing wrong with bending the rules and trying to weasel out of punishment. I loved how the entire story was told from Karis's point of view. Karis doesn't see her faults, and compared to many kids, she really is pretty good. But she still finds trouble even when she tries to behave. She simply can't stand to be grounded all the time, so she sneaks behind her mother's back and does what she wants to do despite the restrictions. I did the very same thing when I was a teen. The more my parents tried to chokehold me, the harder I fought to get free. This is one of the reasons I don't do this with my teens, and you know what? They are really good kids. So being harder isn't always better. Listening is important as is praising them when they do the right thing. But I digress.

Karis reminds me so much of when I was young. Because when you're a teen think you know everything, but you are really quite naive. You think your decision is always the right one, but you only see one side of every issue. The author does a great job portraying the mother/daughter tension and the issues that come from being a child with divorced parents. I have seen this same scenario many times when counseling teens. The parents continue to tighten the screws and the teens just keep fighting everything. Unfortunately this oftentimes makes things worse. Like when Karis started to believe she might as well do the unthinkable since her mom always seems to think it of her anyway. Only Karis really did try to be good. And she prayed and did have faith. But when she put herself in difficult circumstances, she had to fight to keep safe. The world is a dangerous place, and Karis discovered that truth the hard way.

In the midst of her struggles, Karis learns some tough lessons. I love how the author let that play out so naturally that teen readers will have the benefit of learning the same lessons without getting themselves in the same situations that Karis had. The characterization was flawless, too. I remember the days when all that mattered was the guy was cute. The rest was irrelevant. But we adults all know many young people who married those messed up, but very good-looking men and they totally ruined their lives. That message is portrayed very well in this story, too. I highly recommend this book because unlike many YA novels, this one offers hope and shows how faith can make all the difference to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karis is a sixteen year old girl who is struggling with her mother's trust. She has done a lot of things that has been getting her in trouble lately. Her mother is a very Godly woman. Who cares a lot about her religion and her daughter. Karis's mother wants the best for her daughter and she doesn't want her to end up like her. How she got pregnant at a very young age. She wants her to do the right thing and to make something of her life. In this book it shows to teens that you can't always have it your way. And you should think before you do things, because you will eventually pay the price. Trouble in my Way was one of Stimpsons first young adult novels. I love the story it was really great and gave great detail. I recommend young adults to read this book, because they can learn a lot from this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible writing job