Read an Excerpt
For the Record
I'm not stuck up.
There's a big difference.
If I was stuck up
I'd be one of those
"Oh look at me, I'm so pretty"
girls instead of just appreciating the fact that my cinnamon skin looks good year-round and I can hop in the shower after soccer or lacrosse,
throw on a clean sweatshirt,
sweep on some mascara,
let my hair loose from its pony,
and give any girl a serious run for her money.
And while I totally deserve my spot in Honors English
I'm happy to take my proper place in Algebra I, suffering alongside the rest of the mediocre math heads.
as far as high school boys go,
I'm not so floundering in self-esteem issues that I need someone's arm to hang on or someone's jersey number to cheer for to be a legitimate person,
like some people I know.
Man, to listen to Kim and Caroline chatter away all summer you'd think we've been waiting our whole pathetic lives just to graduate middle school and get to Point Beach High so we could date high school boys.
As if high school boys hold some kind of magical key to who we all really are.
The Whole Truth
All that stuff I just said is absolutely swear-to-God true,
but the rest of the truth the whole truth is lately
I don't have as tight a grip on my confidence as usual.
I mean, this is high school.
Sure, I was pretty popular in middle school,
but you never know how these things are going to turn out.
What if what Kim and Caroline call my natural look is considered totally lame in high school?
What if wanting to read during lunch makes me a total geek?
I don't fit in at all?
It's funny how one night can change the way you look at certain things.
I mean, I believe 100 percent that high school boys don't hold any magical key or anything but that's not the same as saying they're all bad.
Some of them aren't so bad.
I saw him across the gym before he saw me.
He was scoping things out at the Fall Fling,
looking for that one lucky freshman to win the prize of dancing with the studly senior.
I think he picked me because I looked right at him as if I couldn't care less.
I couldn't care more.
My heart was pounding,
Hit me like a surprise party you cross-your-heart had no idea anyone was throwing you.
Now, I have never understood all that he's-my-other-half soul mate stuff or when people sometimes talk about having an empty space inside or that they're missing pieces or something.
But then he walked over and fit himself right into my puzzle.
First (Real) Date: Part One
I think Mom is a little bit worried the first guy I'm dating is a senior.
She should know me better than that.
I never do anything
I don't want to do.
That's not going to change.
I mean, when everyone thought it was so cool to sit on the seawall and puff through a pack of Marlboro Lights,
I had a blast sitting there laughing,
telling them how truly stupid and uncool they really were, actually,
coughing and sputtering and wanting to puke,
yeah, real sexy,
Give me some credit.
I never do anything
I don't want to do.
He picks me up in his brand-new
I hate to admit it,
but he kind of cracked my cool-as-a-cucumber exterior
I tried to pull off at the dance
(even though I'm hoping he didn't notice I talked way too fast)
but now all he's talking about is how many horsepowers his stupid car has and the torque and how he almost picked cherry red but he's so stoked that they had this sweet ocean color come in at the last minute and I'm starting to think maybe
I made a
but I just smile and nod,
like the idiotic bobblehead planted in the middle of his dashboard,
pretending this is the most interesting conversation ever.
Man, I hope he doesn't keep this up too long.
We pull in to Smiles.
The parking lot is alive,
too many radio stations blaring kids making out in cars sitting on hoods eating hot dogs high-fiving smoking various things drinking various things talking too loud about nothing.
Inside the scene isn't all that different,
except it's another kind of dark punctuated by the bright lights of too many pulsing video games jammed up against each other.
We walk over to a big bunch of seniors by the batting cages he drapes his arm around me real possessive,
which should have immediately brought out my
but instead stirs this way-foreign tingly
"Oh my God, he really likes me" rush.
(Lame! Did I just actually think that?)
"Who's the babe? Freshmeat?" one of the jocks says,
right in front of my face.
"Get it? Freshmen, freshmeat?"
He's laughing hysterically,
like this is the most hilarious thing anyone has ever heard.
"Yeah, got it.
Guys, this is Josie."
A round of Hi's, How's It Goin's, and What's Up's are tossed in my general direction.
I never thought this scene would interest me but actually,
I feel really,
I don't know,
included, I guess,
with his arm wrapped around me pulling me into a group
and not just any group:
the coolest, most popular group of seniors,
even though the guys are fairly juvenile.
"Hey, we're all heading over to Lindsey's in a while,"
one of the boys says.
"Time to party!"
"Okay. We'll hit that, too. All right, Jos?"
Although I'm not at all sure because my Mom would freak if she knew I was going to a senior party.
First (Real) Date: Part Two
We hang out at Smiles for a while,
eat some truly nasty pizza,
then head over to Lindsey's.
On the drive over he rests his hand on my thigh,
"Are you having a good time?"
"Good, I'm glad. I want you to have fun."
His hand is still on my thigh.
He's going on and on about something,
his car again, I think,
but I can't concentrate with his fingers moving back and forth like that and even though he's acting real innocent,
like he's got no goal or anything,
the heat from his fingers is searing through to my skin like one of those iron-on transfers.
I could almost bet when I look later his handprint will have been permanently imprinted on my leg.
Then he raises the stakes.
He moves his hand onto mine picks it up and puts it on his thigh.
He takes his eyes off the road for a second looks at me and smiles.
Like the big bad wolf.
If I was in a comic strip,
there'd be a bubble coming out of my head with the word "Gulp" in it.
Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the title of the novel. Do you agree with it? Why or why not? How did the bad boy in this novel end up being “good” for each girl?
2. Josie admits that “lately/I don’t have as tight a grip/on my confidence” (page 3). Do you think her insecurity affects her actions? If so, how? How can a girl maintain her confidence in unsettling situations?
3. Josie says, “It’s pretty amazing/to find out new things about yourself/when you think you already know every inch/of your own personal landscape” (page 78). What does she learn from her relationship with a bad boy? What can you learn from her?
4. Nicolette believes that sex is power. Do you agree? If so, who wields that power? How do you think attitudes about sex have changed over time? Is Nicolette’s belief a modern notion? Would your mother agree with Nicolette’s opinions? Your grandmother?
5. Both Aviva and Josie end up ditching their girlfriends for a guy. What do you think of their actions? How can you keep your friends and have a boyfriend?
6. Nicolette and Aviva believe that what they are feeling is love. But as Kristen tells Aviva, “. . . we call it making love, they don’t” (page 205). What do you think she is implying? Do you agree with her?
7. Compare the actions of the three girls. What can you learn from each of them? Whom do you feel most sorry for? Why? Whom do you relate to the most?
8. Each of the girls begins to lose her identity as she becomes wrapped up in this bad boy. Josie has to concentrate to remember her favorite things, Nicolette loses her sense of control, and Aviva lets him callher by a name she hates. Is letting go of yourself inevitable in a relationship, or can it be prevented? If so, how?
9. ·The author never names the boy who has wrought such havoc in these young women’s lives. Why do you think she made this decision? Do you think a lot of young men treat women in this way? Do young women hold any responsibility for the way their boyfriends treat them? If so, how much?
10. How can reading a book like this help prevent a girl from making the same mistakes as its characters?