Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong . . . and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.
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As You Wish
All I've learned in today's Shakespeare class is: Sometimes you have to fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person. A more useful lesson would've been: Sometimes the right person doesn't love you back. Or sometimes the right person is gay. Or sometimes you just aren't the right person.
Thanks for nothing, Shakespeare.
I pretend to read along...the key is to glance up at the teacher occasionally so you appear interested...but really, I'm watching a guy to my right. He slouches back in his chair, slack-jawed, wearing a black coat covered in safety pins. The tips of his hair are magenta, and he has a row of piercings in each ear. He's one of the Punk Guys, though he sometimes drifts into the Wannabe Skater crowd.
I squeeze my eyes a little so his face blurs...it's easier to imagine how I'd paint him if I let his features run together. My hands twitch, longing to hold a paintbrush instead of a pencil. A fan brush, probably, for the magenta spikes. I'd add a few shades of gray underneath his eyes to try to capture that sleepy, sullen look that all the Punk Guys seem to have.
Everyone in this classroom belongs to one clique or another...a few Pretty Girls, a few Druggies, a Smart Kid or two, a large handful of Emo Girls wearing plastic bracelets. I've studied them all semester, hoping to understand their looks, movements, voices...and then trying to paint it all later. Like if I can just get it down on canvas, I'll have the key to the social mystery of what makes them belong to something bigger than themselves. If I can figure out what it is that makes thembelong, I can figure out why it is that I don't...why I've become an Invisible Girl. The kind of girl who has a handful of friends and a lot of acquaintances, but who doesn't really belong to anything. I guess being invisible is better than faking your way into belonging, but it doesn't feel any less lonely.
"So, basically, the moral of this play is, Wait until you see the person naked before you fall in love, just in case they have the wrong . . . equipment?" a voice says from across the room. The formerly drowsy class...including me...turns to pay close attention to the speaker.
"There's a little more to it, Aaron, but . . . yes," Miss Collins says, putting two fingers to her right temple. She's a young teacher, and she always looks scared when she has to talk about sex.
Aaron shrugs. "I guess I'll start asking girls to undress sooner."
We all laugh under our breath, and the teacher flushes. Aaron smiles...the kind of smile you usually see on Disney princes. He's the only one I know who could deliver that line and not get administrative detention for it. He's also the only one I know who somehow manages to belong to everything...his friends are the leaders of all the other cliques, the beautiful, high-school-famous people who seem to gravitate toward one another...the Royal Family. I try to imagine the way Aaron's broad shoulders might look in watercolor. I wish I could figure out his secret...how to belong like he does. I wish I didn't feel invisible.
I sigh, wondering if I'll be doomed to walk home in the rain like I did yesterday, and turn to my left to glance out the window.
Dark brown eyes barrel into mine.
I suppress a gasp...there's supposed to be an open desk next to me. Where the hell did he come from?
The eyes belong to a golden-skinned boy who's sitting motionless like a cat preparing to attack a mouse. He's staring at me so intensely that I can actually feel his gaze boring into my skin. His eyes are deep like an animal's eyes...soft like a deer's, sort of, but also intense like a wolf's. Though I badly want to look away, I can't, as if there are ropes linking me to him. The stranger's skin sparkles even under the school's bland fluorescent lights as the sound of Miss Collins's voice drones on even more than usual. The world blurs at the edges of my vision.Who is he? I blink furiously to try and make the rest of the world come back into focus, but all I can see are his deep brown, watery irises. I'm drowning in them. This isn't right. I shiver and force my eyes away from his. It hurts, as if he'd had his fingers wrapped around my gaze.
I try to fixate on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom, but I can still feel his eyes on me. Chill bumps rise on my arms. I want to ignore him, yet another part of me desperately wants to look at him again. He had been looking at me, studying me, like I study everyone else. Why? I rub my lips together and carefully look back toward him, using a few strands of my hair as a shield between us.
But he's gone.
Not just from his desk...from the classroom. No one has touched the room's only door, but Strangerguy is nowhere to be seen.
I've finally lost my mind, haven't I?
I jump when the bell rings. Class is over. I crumple my sparse notes and shove them into my bag, then head for the door. The rest of the class is sprinting to the hallway; the faster you get into the hall, the longer you can be social before your next class. I linger a moment longer, thinking maybe Stranger-guy is just hiding behind a desk or something. But no...he's definitely gone. I exhale and duck through the doorway, hurrying through the baby-blue hallways to the commons. My best friend, Lawrence, is waiting for me, rerolling the sleeves of his designer shirt.As You Wish. Copyright © by Jackson Pearce. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“As You Wish is compelling, funny, thrilling and sexy, and Jinn is positively swoony. When you get to the end, you’ll wish for more.”