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WHEN 15-YEAR-OLD MICK Nichols opens the wrong e-mail, he learns a terrible secret: His stepmother is having an affair with a man named Alexander Selkirk. Mick is stunned. Should he tell his father, confront his stepmother, or keep it all to himself? And who, exactly, is Alexander Selkirk? Mick becomes obsessed with the infidelity, in spite of some serious distractions. Distractions like Lisa Doyle, the religious field-hockey player with the coppery red hair. Like the surprising (but appreciated) affections of ...
WHEN 15-YEAR-OLD MICK Nichols opens the wrong e-mail, he learns a terrible secret: His stepmother is having an affair with a man named Alexander Selkirk. Mick is stunned. Should he tell his father, confront his stepmother, or keep it all to himself? And who, exactly, is Alexander Selkirk? Mick becomes obsessed with the infidelity, in spite of some serious distractions. Distractions like Lisa Doyle, the religious field-hockey player with the coppery red hair. Like the surprising (but appreciated) affections of Myra Vidal, a famously gorgeous college freshman with a secret of her own. And at the moment Mick discovers Selkirk’s true identity, he realizes his problems are all zipped up together—and that he may have to go to drastic lengths to untangle them.
“The McNeals spin a wonderfully rich story.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A well-honed novel. . . . Readers will be sucked in.”—Publishers Weekly
At the end of their sophomore year in high school, the lives of four teenagers are woven together as they start a tough new job, face family problems, deal with changing friendships, and find love.
Baked in a Pie
It wasn't a normal Thursday, but all day long it had seemed like one, so when the final bell rang, Mick Nichols did what he normally did. He walked from Jemison High to Melville Junior High by way of the athletic fields, fast-walking at first, but then, as he neared the muddy grass where the girls' field hockey team was collecting for spring practice, he settled into something closer to a purposeful stroll.
He hoped he wasn't too early, and he wasn't. Lisa Doyle was there—he caught a flash of her coppery red hair through the shifting shoulders and sticks, and suddenly everywhere and all at once a strange prickling sensation began spreading across his skin. She bent down to pick up her stick, and when she happened to flick a glance in his general direction, Mick's face went wooden. He kept his eyes directly forward and walked stiffly on without another look her way. Beneath his old bomber jacket, beneath his khaki T-shirt, a cool bead of sweat coursed down his rib cage. Dink, he thought as he reached the chain-link fence that marked the boundary of the high school. Dink dink dink.
Melville Junior High was located just across the street to the east of Jemison High, so by this time of day Jemison's shadow already reached across Melville's front lawn. Mick cut through Melville's parking lot and wandered down to the art room, where his stepmother, Nora Mercer-Nichols, was cleaning up after a day of what she liked jokingly to call "teaching art to the artless." She was stuffing dirty wool into black Hefty bags. When she saw Mick she pushed her sandy blond hair up with the back of her hand and said, "Hello, Maestro!" Then, "Hi, Mick."
Nora Mercer-Nichols was in her early thirties, but she seemed younger. She'd married Mick's father four years before. The first time Mick had met her, she and his father had come in quietly behind him when he was playing the piano in the living room. He'd thought he was alone, and when he finally got through one of Bach's Inventions without a flub, he leaned back on the piano bench and exultantly shot a fist into the air, which drew sudden laughter from Nora and his father. Mick had swung around, surprised and embarrassed. When his father introduced her, he said, "Nora, this is my son, Mick," and she'd smiled and said, "Well, I think I'm going to have to call him Maestro," which she still did. Mick had heard a lot of Bad Stepmother stories, but he liked Nora. He never thought of her as his mother or even his stepmother. She was just Nora, and almost any room was more interesting if she were in it.
Today, standing just inside her classroom door, next to a cabinet lined with bird's nests in clear Plexiglas boxes, Mick read for probably the hundredth time the English and Latin labels he'd helped Nora make one night last fall: black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus). house sparrow (Passer domesticus). chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina). A few of the nests held faintly tinted eggs, some freckled, some not. Nora had been asked about the eggs so often that she'd made a small sign that said don't worry, you bird lovers you, I only collect abandoned nests.
Mick found himself staring at some faintly freckled eggs, which made him think of Nora's shoulders in summer, a thought he tried to shake off.
"So," Nora said. "Gimme the daily Doyle report."
Mick shrugged. "Brief visual contact."
"Really? Well, did you smile back?"
They both fell silent. About three weeks ago, while driving home with Nora, Mick had told her in a matter-of-fact voice about "this kind of weird effect" that the sight of Lisa Doyle had on him. A laugh had burst from Nora. " 'The heart is the tyrant who spares no one,' " she recited.
"Who said that?"
Nora grinned and nodded toward a small, red ceramic devil that she'd recently set on her dashboard. "Probably little Beezlebub," she said. "Either that or some dead white guy."
Mick didn't know why she called the figurine Beezlebub. All he knew was, he didn't like the little guy. At first it just seemed like a toddler in a devil sleeper, but it always seemed to be peering at you with its black, curious eyes.
"Where'd you get that thing anyway?" he said.
"School," Nora said. "On desktop treasure trading day."
Mick stared at it for a second or two. "It's kind of grimy."
Nora chuckled. "The word I'd use is 'puckish.' " Then, after a block or two had passed, "Weren't we on the subject of one Lisa Doyle? What do you and Lisa talk about?"
"That's kind of the problem," Mick said, and felt his face color slightly. "I haven't actually ever talked to Lisa Doyle."
Nora shot him a look of surprise and then became serious. "Okay, Maestro. Here's the deal. You've been smitten. It may be a foolish infatuation or it may be the real thing. What you have to do is get to know her, and vice versa, which means something more extreme than hockey field walk-bys. You need proximity. If she's on the debate team, join the debate team. If she plays tennis, buy yourself a racket." They were at a stoplight and Nora had fixed Mick with her winsome smile. "If she plays pinochle, take up pinochle."
"I hear she's Mormon," Mick said.
Nora had laughed. "Then say your prayers, and make sure they're good ones," she had said.
The wool they were bagging this afternoon was surprisingly dirty, snagged with twigs and seeds and even clusters of what looked to Mick like sheep dung. He broke a silence by saying, "This stuff's pretty disgusting. What's it for anyway?"
"A new enrichment class." Nora pointed at the near bulletin board, where in large letters it said wool: from sheep to sweater. She laughed again. "You'll be happy to know it's open to students of both genders. The early colonists taught all their children to spin, including boys."
Mick said, "So this class would be a serious opportunity for any guy who might want to be a colonist when he grows up." He hoped this would be good for a chuckle from Nora, and it was. Then he said, "Well, maybe Dad or me'll get a sweater out of it." This was a joke. Although Nora had been working on something that was supposed to be a sweater, she wouldn't say who it was for or what it was supposed to look like, and more often than not she seemed to be unraveling it to correct a mistake.
"Ha," said Nora. "That'll depend on who does the supper dishes."
2. Why won’t Mick take off his coat at the end of chapter one? Look at the moments throughout the book when Mick pats the disk that is zipped into his jacket pocket. What is he thinking about when he does this? What is he really trying to keep zipped up? Does it work? Similarly, Myra puts her feelings for Pam into a letter. At the end of the novel, Mick and Myra send their disk and letter up into the sky with a bunch of balloons. What does this act symbolize for each of them?
3. On page 21, Mick takes a long look at this father, and later he challenges his father to a particularly competitive game of foosball in an attempt to “make him play a little harder” (p. 26). What is Mick trying to bring out in his father? Through whose point of view is Mick seeing his father now?
4. Internal conflict is a struggle within a character over an issue or a choice he or she must make. Lisa considers the forbidden fruits of the Mormon religion: “drinking, caffeine, boyfriends, and fun” (p. 33). How does she feel about these rules? What is Lisa’s internal struggle? By the end of the novel, do you think Lisa is on her way to resolving these problems? What choices do you think she will make? What are Myra’s internal conflicts? Mick’s? Nora’s? How are they resolved?
5. Betrayal is one of the themes of the novel. Which characters feel betrayed? How and by whom? How does each of these characters deal with his or her feelings? Would you be able to forgive an act of betrayal like Nora’s? Why or why not? Does Mick forgive her?
6. A symbol is a physical thing that stands for an idea or an emotion. Nora adds a new figurine to her car’s dashboard—a small plastic devil she calls Beelzebub. How does Mick feel about this item and why? Where do you think it came from? What does this figure symbolize to Nora? Do her feelings about it ever change? Where does this figure end up and what does its condition represent?
7. Birds’ nests appear throughout the story. Toward the end, a singing bird is building a new nest in the backyard. Contrast the image of the dried, abandoned nests in Nora’s classroom with the lively new nest at the end, in which “. . . the five white eggs were still together and intact” (p. 269). What do you think these images symbolize about the status of the Nichols family at different points in the novel?
8. The setting of a story—when and where it takes place—can establish its atmosphere, or mood. Where does this story take place? During what season? Mick observes, “The air was warm sometimes, but you couldn’t trust it ” (p. 7). How does this climate foreshadow, or hint at, the situation Mick is about to find himself in? How are the lines “Everything looked green—the trees, the yard, the valley and hillside beyond—everything” (p. 272), indicative of Mick’s new situation? Do the authors use the weather to set the mood in other parts of the story?
9. Do you think Maurice is racist or prejudiced? Why or why not? What are some of the characteristics that make the reader and characters dislike him? Describe Janice’s feelings for Maurice. Do they change when she looks into the orange juice container? Eventually, Lisa decides Maurice is not a total “sleazeball” (p. 273). Why does she come to this conclusion? Do you have sympathy for Maurice? Why or why not?
10. Lisa and Janice are best friends, but they don’t spend much time together as the book progresses. How do their differences become clearer? What kinds of choices do each of them make? Have any of your friendships ever taken similar turns? What do you think will happen to their relationship? Is Lisa a good friend? If not to Janice, then to whom? At the end of the novel, after Elder Keesler departs, Lisa visits Home Park Gardens “one last time” (p. 265). What does she see? How is this view different from what she used to see? What do you think this means?
11. Many of the characters in the book are different on the inside than they appear to be on the outside. Myra calls this phenomenon the “face behind the face behind the face” (p. 120). How do Nora and Myra fit this category? What does Mick expect from Nora and how is he surprised by her behavior? What does Mick assume Myra will be like and how does she surprise him? Does Mr. Cruso fit Mick’s assumptions? Nora says, “Adults are like everybody else, Mick. Usually they do what they’re supposed to do. Sometimes they don’t” (p. 255). What does this teach Mick about himself and other people?
Posted April 26, 2014
Posted June 28, 2014
GoldDragons; they are a golden color and their scales shine. Their scales are not as tough as iron, but they are still strong. They have smaller wings and trouble flying. IronDragons; they have iron colored scales and they are very hard to penetrate. They can barf lava from iron, and they can make weapons. They have buldging faces. StarDragon; they are black but have glowing white scales on them. They shoot stardust, which acts the same as NightDragon dust. They blend in perfectly with the sky. SunDragons; they have yellow scales that if you look directly at them, they will hurt your eyes. They are great fliers and are powered by the sun. MoonDragons; they have pale white scales with dark blotches on them. Their horns are turned inti a spiral. The scales on the bottom of their claws and on their underbelly act as mirrors, making it very confusing for a dragon below them. SkyDragons; they are blue with white blotches and a white underbelly. They can control weather. They have giant wings and are the only dragons that can wear out WindDragons. They do not fly as fast, but they have better stamina. DiamondDragons; they live privately underground and grow diamons on their back. They wear the diamonds down to make them smoothe and beautiful. Their scales are grey and not very fancy. The only dragons resistant to fire and ice. The first bit of the story is on the next result. Enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2014
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Posted April 25, 2014
Posted April 24, 2014
Stop being such a motha fuc.king b.itch + its hard to belive u have a boy fuc.king freind most likly an imaginary pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppooooooooooooooooooooosooooooooooooooooooooooooooosssssssssssssssssssssssossssssddsssssssssssssssssssssttttttttttttttttttttttttttrtttttttttWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2014
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Posted April 24, 2014
I loved the idea of incorporating all of these different charachters lives points of view and then suddenly having them all mesh into one. I also loved how when i started realizing the charachters were coming together how I had to think about how different people were going to join together. I loved it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2008
I thought that this book wasn¿t as good as the first one, but it was ok. Zipped is a little different with the main character and stuff but, this book basically has the same plot as Crooked. Zipped by Laura and Tom McNeal, is about a boy named Mick Nichols who reads a disturbing e-mail that his stepmother, Nora forgot to dispose of. He finds out that his stepmother is having an affair with a gut named Alexander Selkirk. Now Mick¿s life is having major ups and downs while he is trying to find this mysterious Selkirk guy when actually nothing really adds up. Laura and Tom have done an ok job with this book, but I think it was just a version of Crooked with a couple of changesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 22, 2007
The headline is from a major theme in this book, which really kept me reading. At first, you might just think it's about Mick Nichols and his everyday life and his issues, but as you continue to read, you unfold different layers, and every one of them was a surprise. I loved how all of the book's stories and point of views were brought together. This book was clever, insightful, and alot better than I make it sound. The McNeals created a fabulous book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2007
I liked this book. It's about a guy named Mick Nichols. Mick opens an E-mail that he wasn't supposed to read. He finds out his stepmom is having an affair with a guy named Alexander Selkirk. I liked this book because it kept me reading until the end. I wouldn't recomend this book to everyone, though because not everyone will like it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2007
Laura and Tom McNeal are definately now some of my favorite authors! I've also read Crooked and Crushed.... My favorite of the three was probably Zipped, followed closely by Crooked and then Crushed. I was a bit disappointed, however, that Zipped didn't share the same type of heart-pounding climax that Crushed and, particularly, Crooked had. I loved the characters in Zipped, though, and the storyline was fantastic also!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2006
i was extremely pleased with this novel. the truths behind the lines, the faces behind the faces behind the faces as Myra puts it, were what kept me guessing and reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2006
Posted January 22, 2006
This is a great book. The McNeals really illustrate the dilemma in Zipped, and in a reality type way at that. The characters are fun, and the chapters going back and forth between them make the book more interesting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.