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Baby and Solo

Baby and Solo

by Lisabeth Posthuma
Baby and Solo

Baby and Solo

by Lisabeth Posthuma


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Joel’s new job at the video store is just what the therapist ordered. But what happens if the first true friend he’s made in years finds out about What Was Wrong With Him?

Seventeen-year-old Joel Teague has a new prescription from his therapist—a part-time job—the first step toward the elusive Normal life he’s been so desperate to live ever since The Bad Thing happened. Lucky for Joel, ROYO Video is hiring. It’s the perfect fresh start—Joel even gets a new name. Dubbed “Solo” after his favorite Star Wars character, Joel works his way up the not-so-corporate ladder without anyone suspecting What Was Wrong With Him. That is, until he befriends Nicole “Baby” Palmer, a smart-mouthed coworker with a chip on her shoulder about . . . well, everything, and the two quickly develop the kind of friendship movie montages are made of. However, when Joel’s past inevitably catches up with him, he’s forced to choose between preserving his new blank slate persona and coming clean—and either way, he risks losing the first real friend he’s ever had. Set in a pop-culture-rich 1990s, this remarkable story tackles challenging and timely themes with huge doses of wit, power, and heart.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781536213034
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 05/11/2021
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 476,820
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Lisabeth Posthuma is a devotee of obscure documentaries about drive-ins, a lover of rotary telephones, and a trophy-winning champion of TV trivia. She lives in Michigan with her two parakeets, Tiki Bon Jovi and Alaska Riggins.

Read an Excerpt

Part 1
Royal Oak, Michigan — August 1996
“I think Joel is ready,” Dr. Singh concluded.
   I was on the couch, sitting up because it was only my brain and not my whole body being examined. There weren’t enough chairs for us all to have one, and since I was technically still the patient, I followed rank.
   “I don’t know how I feel about this, Dr. Singh,” my mom said. “It doesn’t sound like there are safeguards in case of a relapse.”
   I hated that word. Relapse. It made me sound like a druggie.
   “There haven’t been any occurrences in almost two years.” He glanced at my chart to confirm this timeline, but he was right. I hadn’t had a major flare-up of What Was Wrong With Me since I was fifteen. “I think it’s time we let him try life out, Mrs. Teague.”
   Mom scowled. “Shouldn’t we try another medication?”
   “I’m ready, Mom,” I assured her, though she wasn’t asking me. I was used to that — being discussed instead of participating in the discussion.
   My dad said nothing, but he squeezed Mom’s hand. She sighed. “What does it mean to ‘try life out,’ exactly?” she asked. “We’re not talking about backpacking across Europe, are we?”
   “Is that something that would interest you, Joel?” Dr. Singh mistook my mother’s absurdity for a legitimate suggestion. “An adventure could be highly beneficial to Joel’s recovery.”
   Both of my parents looked horror-struck.
   I thought about making light of things and pretending that I’d always dreamed of running with the bulls in Pamplona, but Mom and Dad had already been through enough. The Bad Thing That Happened had happened to them, too. Besides, I disagreed with Dr. Singh. What Was Wrong With Me had been adventure enough.
   “I’m good to experience life on a smaller scale before becoming a world traveler,” I said, to my parents’ obvious relief.
   “How so?” my dad asked. If anyone invited my opinion in discussions about my mental health, it was always him. “What sounds fun to you? Would you maybe want to join a sports team?”
   The genericness of his suggestion proved how little my dad knew about me.
   “Maybe,” I answered. “We’ll see.”
   “It’s important to set concrete goals as you fully integrate into normal life,” Dr. Singh cautioned. “We need to have a plan in place before you all leave here today. And I’ll be following up to make sure you actually take whatever we decide the first step is.” Then he recited the words printed on the motivational poster hanging on the wall behind him: “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”
   Motivational posters were staples in child psychiatrists’ offices.
   These posters typically featured cheesy advice splashed across scenic mountain photographs, puppies and/or kittens, or, for reasons I will never understand, Charlie Brown.
   Charlie Brown. The kid so mercilessly bullied by his so-called friends that he couldn’t even grow hair was somehow the (literal) poster child meant to rally the mentally ill youth of this world. His picture was usually paired with such pandering catchphrases as “Anything is possible with determination!” and “Success is up to you!” and, worst of all, “Never give up!” The “Never give up!” poster featured that heartless bitch Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie just as he’s about to kick it. In the history of Peanuts, Charlie Brown has never gotten to kick that goddamn ball because Lucy always, always pulls it away. But, you know, “Never give up!”
   My father turned to Dr. Singh. “What do you think of him getting a job? Something part-time with other kids his age?”
   “That’s a great idea,” my mom agreed, shockingly.
   Without consulting me, the doctor said, “That sounds perfect. Let’s aim for it!”
   “OK.” I shrugged, climbing onto the bandwagon. A job did appeal to me more than sports. For one thing, I’d be getting paid. Plus, a job felt like less of a commitment. If you quit a sports team, you were considered a wuss, but people quit jobs all the time, and no one cared. That was Normal, and let’s be honest, Normal was the ultimate goal. I used to be Normal, after all. Maybe all that remained between me and being Normal again was providing goods or services to my peers for minimum wage for a while. It was worth a try.
   “I’ll spiff up my resume.”
   Everyone was all smiles after this, though I knew my mom’s was forced.
   The doctor gave me a two-week deadline to set up an interview.
   He wrote this on a prescription pad and handed it to me like it was an antibiotic for a bacterial infection.
   I thanked him, and we left his office. It was the first time in seven years that I thought that someday I might not have to come back anymore.

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