Everything Sucksby Hannah Friedman
When everything sucks,
change everything . . .
And that's exactly what Hannah Friedman set out to do in an ambitious attempt to bust out of a life of obscurity and absurdity and into an alternate world of glamour, wealth, and popularity.
Being dubbed 'That Monkey Girl' by middle school bullies and being pulled out of sixth/strong>/strong>
When everything sucks,
change everything . . .
And that's exactly what Hannah Friedman set out to do in an ambitious attempt to bust out of a life of obscurity and absurdity and into an alternate world of glamour, wealth, and popularity.
Being dubbed 'That Monkey Girl' by middle school bullies and being pulled out of sixth grade to live on a tour bus with her agoraphobic mother, her smelly little brother, and her father's hippie band mates convinces Hannah that she is destined for a life of freakdom.
But when she enters one of the country's most prestigious boarding schools on scholarship, Hannah transforms herself into everything she is not: cool. By senior year, she has a perfect millionaire boyfriend, a perfect GPA, a perfect designer wardrobe, and is part of the most popular clique in school, but somehow everything begins to suck far worse than when she first started. Her newfound costly drug habit, eating disorder, identity crisis, and Queen-Bee attitude lead to the unraveling of Hannah's very unusual life.
Putting her life back together will take more than a few clicks of her heels, or the perfect fit of a glass slipper, in this not-so-fairy tale of going from rock bottom to head of the class and back again.
- Health Communications, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
Sometimes the road is a magical place. We travel to ancient castles where the wind whips across the green Irish hillside with such force that you can lean all the way into it without falling over. We see double rainbows and gamble at racetracks and ride in long skinny boats with gardens on the roof that sail down English canals in neat little rows. We visit chocolate factories and play music in haunted theaters and eat Twinkies for dinner at three in the morning. Everyone says Dad's album is going to be a huge hit. We're finally going to be rich and Mom will never complain and Dad's going to play to sold-out concert halls full of screaming fans, just like when he started out. The album poster even appears on big red double-decker buses all around London. We're famous.
The best part is that I don't have to go to school. Every week or so, Mom asks Sam and me what we want to learn about and we make a plan. For architecture, we visit palaces and cathedrals and I build a scale model of the Tower of London. For theater, we see shows on the West End and take walking tours of the Royal Opera House and stand on the steps of Saint Paul's, where Eliza Doolittle would have sold Henry Higgins that fateful flower. I want to learn about fashion, so we visit the Victoria and Albert Museum to study four centuries of European clothingcorsets, crinoline, gorgeous hoopskirts. There's even a whole exhibit on tiaras. I am in heaven.
When the tour seems to be doing well, Dad hires four cheap twenty-something musiciansa pixie-haired saxophonist, a tattooed bassist, a manic drummer, and a beer-guzzling guitarist whose name I never catch to be his band, and they move onto the bus with us. I try to be cool in front of them, but it's hard to be a rebel when you are confined to a bus the size of a bathroom with your entire family. My only means of financial independence comes from the pittance I am paid for managing Dad's mailing list database, and I need to cooperate to have enough pocket money to spend on quirky items from all the strange places we visit. I learn to juggle an hour-glass-shaped Chinese yo-yo at an international festival and how to sew patched jeans under a colorful tent at an Irish crafts fair. I am enthralled by the bustling bohemian markets of Camdenancient cobblestones and neon green Mohawks; winding alleyways filled with exotic tapestries, sparkly fishnet stockings, and Buddha figurines hand-carved from walnuts; old men in weather-beaten stalls hawking fresh fish and chips with pickles and peas and truffles filled with cognac and cappuccino crème.
I buy flowing harem pants with sequins from a shop that smells of warm red spices. The saxophonist picks up a sachet of henna from the adjoining stall, and she shows me how to draw temporary tattoos on my hands. Sax and I mix the pigment and then squeeze wormy little lines of henna from the tip of a plastic bag into swirls and paisley peacocks and feathery earthen rings. We listen to Louis Armstrong and wait for the clay to dry until it cracks and feels tight and pulls at our skin, and then we scratch it off to reveal dark tan patterns that map our giggles through long six-hour rides of countryside boredom as we drive from town to town.
But soon I start to feel claustrophobic. Sleeping inside a cramped, itchy vehicle that smells like wet dog behind a drummer who compulsively tap-a-tap-taps at all hours of the day, even if the only remotely percussive object in reach is a breadstick, and sharing a bed with your spastic little brother and an oversized bass case while your parents have intense discussions about 'finances' and 'responsibility' in gritted whispers, as if the entire damn bus can't hear everything they say, is pretty much as far from magical as you can get. The only time I encounter people my own age is when I am forced to hock CDs featuring a picture of my parents making out on the cover to their parents, who have dragged them to the concert against their will and smoosh CDs in their faces, saying, 'Oooh, darling, did you know that you were conceived to this song?' Dad won't stop making bad puns. Mom won't stop complaining. British people use weird words and eat pizza with a knife and fork and I don't have any friends here and I want to go home.
I express my indignation with a lot of arm-folding and eye-rolling and many self-imposed silence-strikes, which usually do not have the effect I intend.
'I'm going to pick up some chocolate ice cream after the show for anybody who says they're interested . . . ' Dad tempts.
My brother is less tactful in his attempts to engage me. 'I'm calling you snotbuttface from now on. That's okay, right, snotbuttface? OW! Snotbuttface pinched me!'
Even in spite of my frequent silence-strikes, our ancient Scottish driver and road manager, Gabhran, is still the quietest member of the tour. I'm convinced he's actually a mute for three months until a petrol station in Aberdeen is all out of cigarettes and he mutters something quickly with a lot of 'feck' and 'shite' in a creaky Scottish brogue. He survives, as far as I can tell, on cigarettes, black coffee, and hard rock alone. He does not smile. He does not eat. He never takes off his sunglasses, and he has a full beard the likes of which I've only seen on TV wizards and ZZ Top. The combination makes it impossible to tell whether he's annoyed, asleep, or even freakin' alive. He was a professional racecar driver until he broke thirty-nine bones in an accident and became a road manager for traveling bands. My mother is not impressed when Dad tells her the story.
'Why don't we just throw the kids out the window now and save them the trouble?'
'Honey, everybody loves this guy. He does headliners, international tourshe's the best!'
Mom heaves the final box of CDs in the back of the bus and slams the trunk with intention. 'Then why the hell is he with us?'
After a while I stop kneeling in the catwalks to watch my dad perform. He is amazing, engaging, his performance
virtuosic, but I can't stand peering down at half- and then quarter-full audiences. The advertising budgets have been slashed, Dad's manager stops returning his calls, and pretty soon we're opening to twelve people in a twelve-hundred-seat theater. We're losing money. Even the local radio shows cancel on us. I feel like I'm letting the family down when CD sales drop so low they don't even cover the cost of gas. I try new pitches. I make flashier signs and start accosting people in the lobby during intermission to guilt them into buying the stacks of unsold merchandise. 'Pay for my college education!' I tell them, which seems to make people laugh, though I know it's hardly a joke.
My mother is livid. The tour is a bust.
'I left my animals. I left everything for thisthisthis idiotic fantasy!'
'You're the one who said we owed it to ourselves to give it one lastdo you know what we could have had if we hadn't decided to keep'
'Shutupshutupshutup!' I finally shout after 65 kilometers of pretending to ignore the passive-aggressive whispers. 'You're both wrong!'
Mom explains she's not upset, that this just wasn't what she expected. Dad explains he's not upset either, that nothing is wrong and this is all part of the plan and everyone should try to just enjoy the ride. I explain that I am majorly upset. I haven't taken a proper shower in weeks and I'm missing the first big middle school dance on Friday and nobody ever asked me if I wanted to do this in the first place. They tell me to stop being so overdramatic.
I never thought I'd miss being That Monkey Girl who gets good grades, but now that the only person to hang out with is my little brother and nobody gives me gold stars even when I do a really good job, I realize with a twinge of terror that spending another year like this on the road is going to turn me into something much worse than a girl with a strange pet. I'll become a crazy social recluse just like my parents. I'll become my mother, unwittingly insulting hostesses by telling them that the viscosity of their fancy hollandaise sauce reminds me of phlegm. I'll become my father, breaking world records for wallpaper-staring while the party of the century unfolds around me. In order to forestall this awful fate, I resolve to actively chat with roadies and venue managers, to befriend stage hands, to make everybody laugh, if only to keep the monotony of six-hour road trips from driving me slowly insane. The monotony of six-hour road trips halts the night that we almost die.
The night that we almost die also happens to be the night of the big dance back home. I am awakened from a dream in which I am slow-dancing with Nick Nunzio, the most popular boy in school, by the sound of gunfire and blaring horns as the bus starts to convulse like the universe is in a giant blenderKrrkrrrrkkrrrrr!am I still dreaming? Someone screams. Everything flips sideways. Instruments and sheet music and boxes of CDs tumble out from overhead racks, raining down all over as a low, metallic growl fills the bus. And then, everything is suddenly stillsilent, except for the wispy ssshooms of cars on the highway speeding past.
According to the road crew, if it hadn't been for Gabhran's deft and lightning-fast maneuvering after the tire exploded as we charged down the highway, we would have careened straight into oncoming traffic and been pummeled to a pulp.
'It's jes' unbelievable,' says a guy in a grey uniform, shaking his head. 'Ya wove tru traffic and crossed all ta way to ta shoulder widout bloody front tires! Ya must 'ave some right steady 'ands on ya.'
Gabhran shrugs and taps the ash from his cigarette.
'Oh, boy, do I need a snack,' says Dad after we make sure everybody is okay, after all the sirens and smoke and the brand new tires.
My mother stares straight ahead. 'How can you think about food at a time like this? We almost just died.'
'We haven't eaten since Liverpool. Kids, don't you want some ice cream?'
I am completely miserable and exhale disgustedly, slowly, savoring it so that everyone knows. 'I cannot believe I missed the dance to almost die, and now you're using it as an excuse to go get stupid ice cream?'
Mom scoffs. 'You did not almost die.'
'You just said it!'
'I did not.'
'Dad, didn't she just'
'Ice cream it is!' Dad declares, and my mother and I make an ugh sound and roll our eyes as we pull into a gas station.
Everyone piles out: Sax, Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Gabhran, who immediately lights up two cigarettes. Guitar reaches to grab one, but Gabhran shakes his head. He smokes them both, alternating hands, leaning against the newly dented bus.
My mother gestures to the petrol pump across the way. 'Don't you think we're a little too close for comfort?'
'Reckon we've 'ad our close call fer today,' Gabhran says. It's the only sentence I've ever heard him utter, and it has the surprising power of shutting up my mother, which you usually can't do with a whole boatload full of retorts. I'm impressed.
The sky must be equally impressed because it responds almost immediately in the form of a thunderclap, followed soon after by about a hundred million raindrops. I am convinced that at least ninety million of these fall directly onto me, which I regard as more of a personal affront than a miracle of meteorological choreography. I let strands of drippy hair fall into my face and imagine an angsty power ballad playing as the camera zooms out on me doing one big 'everything sucks' exhale and dramatically boarding the bus. My family is the ultimate drag.
I'm already planning the next scene of the movie when the sliding side door to the bus rudely reacquaints me with cold hard reality. The accident must have dented it, and it stubbornly refuses to reopen. This means the only ways to get in are through the front, which is jam-packed with CDs, or the back, which is full of guitars and amps and posters and other stuff we can't expose to the rain.
My mother throws up her hands and walks away. She's just done.
I run for cover and find the band in the little convenience store, drinking a case of beer like it's going out of style, like we're in a speakeasy or something. The whole store is filled with the sound of pop music blaring from a tinny sound system. I make my way to the bathroom and hover over a crusty toilet on tiptoe to avoid sloshing around in the layer of brown water below. While awkwardly clutching at my pants to ensure that they touch neither the toilet nor the floor, I imagine Nick Nunzio back in New York, dramatically dipping a girl much prettier than me at the climax of the slow dance.
And then I see them. Three small, reddish specks. I always wondered what it would be like . . . probably some kind of ancient, secret revelation. A spiritually resonant burst of wisdom. The knowledge that everything was going to be very different from now on. Very different and very adult, and then I'd sprout awesome tits and maybe 'I Am Woman' would start blaring in the background as I marched up to my mother to announce that I didn't have to take her bullshit anymore. I look closer at the specks. Hmm. Is it supposed to be this . . . unmomentous?
I am not surprised when there's no toilet paper (typical) or when the toilet doesn't flush (perfect), but I almost fall to the sticky floor when I realize that I'm locked inside the bathroom. I panic. Shit. I'm trapped! I pound on the door over and over again. Nobody hears. I call out. Still no answer. I'm going to die in here! HELP! I'm going to die ankle-deep in brown toilet water while the Spice Girls drown out my frantic cries for help. I'm going to
Suddenly, the door swings open toward me. Everyone is crowded aroundthe band and my family and the convenience store guy holding the doorknob.
'You were pushing, love. Ta open it, yeh 'afta pull.'
'Everything okay?' Dad asks.
He hands me a Twinkie, which I wolf down in two bites while beelining to the back of the store. I grab the first box of Kotex pads I see and realize with horror that I don't have any money to pay for it.
'What's that?' my mother wants to know, appearing out of nowhere.
'Stop it, Mom. Just leave me alone.'
'What are you' She snatches the box from behind me and pauses, smiles. Mom never ever hugs anybody, but she touches my arm affectionately. I think she might even be getting misty-eyed, but instead she grabs my hand and marches back to the bathroom, waving her hands around and shouting, 'All right, people, all right! Nothing to see here.' Then she discreetly tears open the box and hands me a big, fat Kotex. Actually, she's not all that discreet because everyone is still kind of watching. I am livid.
I return from the bathroom and Mom is still brandishing the offending box. Please let me die. Guitar and Bass extend a beer and a cigarette respectively. 'Ceremonial!' Guitar explains as Mom slaps away his hand.
Maybe if I start walking now I can hitchhike my way to London and join a circus or something. Then maybe I'll finally have a normal life. Or maybe I can just walk straight into oncoming traffic and be done with it all. This is the worst part of the worst day of the worst life any girl has ever lived. All of a sudden, Sax begins to giggle, which makes Sam chuckle. Guitar chokes on a sip of beer, spitting foam all over the floor. Dad laughs out loud.
'Well, I'm glad you people are amused,' I spit contemptuously.
Everyone laughs even harder. My mother, who has barely smiled all week, is now doubled over. I am disgusted. I am furious. I am never going to speak to any of them ever again for as long as I live.
When I was little I was convinced that I had been switched at birth, that my rightful parents were living on a magical mountaintop somewhere in a resplendent palace with closets full of a million pretty dresses, waiting until the day I was old enough that they could send for me. After discovering some disappointingly graphic hospital-photo proof that I did indeed come out of my mother (the crowning of Princess Hannah?), I set my hopes on the notion that my parents were just pretending to be poor in order to keep my brother and me grounded. On the long-awaited day that I finally became a woman, they would press a button and reveal the sprawling mansion and in-ground pool hidden underneath our modest split-level ranch.
Gabhran's beard contorts in a way that I've never seen before, and I realize that even he is smiling. I will myself to remain angry, to keep my eyebrows furrowed and my arms folded. This is not what I signed up for. Nobody asked if I wanted to have a monkey for a sister or move all the way across the ocean or live in a bus with a bunch of loonies who don't listen to me and laugh hysterically at what was supposed to be my beautifully symbolic graduation from childhood. It isn't funny. Don't laugh. Don't laugh, don't laugh, don't laugh. But the sight of Gabhran's big furry beard-smile is too much and I can't suppress a hint of a smirk from creeping across my mouth. I hate them. And I laugh.
We stay there in the convenience store, gorging ourselves on complimentary gummy worms, balancing on cases of prawn-flavored crisps and grinning until our cheeks ache and the sun begins to rise and our minds fluff into cotton candy. The storm passes. With the rain finally stopped, we can now board through the back of the bus. We unload and reload and buckle up. Forty-nine gigs in forty-three cities to go. We pull out and I watch as the store shrinks away through the back window, along with every lingering notion of instant womanly revelations and magical mansion buttons. It's a damn shame. I guess real life doesn't work like Cinderella's. If I want the fairy tale, I'm going to have to try harder. And as we plunge into a bright swarm of headlights streaming toward the horizon, I congratulate myself on this, my first official, decidedly adult decision.
©2009. Hannah Friedman. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Everything Sucks. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
Meet the Author
Hannah Friedman (Peekskill, NY) is a recent Yale University graduate. She is the daughter of gold-record singer/songwriter Dean Friedman. An article titled "When Your Friends Become the Enemy" about her experiences applying to an Ivy League University was published in Newsweek in 2004. Ms. Friedman is the winner of the Yale 2007 Playwright's Festival, as well as the New York Television Festival's 2008 "Flying Solo" Pilot Contest. Her pilot about transitioning from college student to author will debut at the Festival in September 2008. Visit http://hannahfriedman.hcibooks.com
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Everything SUCKS is an autobiography of Hannah Friedman's struggles growing up. She talks about those awkward childhood and teenage years when everything truly did suck for her. Hannah's life began when she was born the younger sister of a monkey named Amelia. Amelia is able to get way with anything. Hannah's mother saved Amelia and adopted her into the family and Amelia in return got into a Hollywood movie, which later bought the Friedmans' house. Hannah becomes known as The Monkey Girl freak at school and as hard as she tries, she never can quite fit in, in public school. When her father makes the family go across the Atlantic to Europe for a music tour to promote his new album, Hannah does not want to go. Her father is one-hit wonder from the 1970s trying to get himself back in the world of music. Hanna is home schooled during the tour. The tour is an utter and complete bomb, though there is some fun and eccentric people that made it a little better. When she gets back to middle school, Hannah is determined to reinvent herself. She hopes with her new worldliness that she can charm everyone and might be able to fit in. Sadly, her dreams are shattered when she finds herself even lower than before. Since that did not work out she transfers to a private boarding school and finds herself unintentionally in the most popular clique there is. Unfortunately, the world she now finds herself in is more complicated, phony, and ugly than she ever would have guessed it could be. Everyone tries to be the thinnest and prettiest while backstabbing anyone who gets in the way. The drama takes its toll on Hannah. Her values and self-esteem are crippled right before her eyes. Her need to fit in led her down very destructive paths. Even though she becomes popular, it sucks way more than being Monkey Girl ever did. Hannah Friedman successfully talks about her horrible teenage years and desperate need to fit in, reliving some of the most embarrassing and difficult times of her life so far. This book was very good and hard to put down. I read it one in a day. She puts all aspects of her life all out there to share with the world, hoping that they will learn a thing or two of what not to do growing up.
This book is simply entertaining. The message to the readers is great. The author's voice is easy to relate to and entertaining. And the story isn't just like any other teen novel. I recommend this to all teenagers. They should find it entertaining, hilarious, shocking, and fun.
Free spirit parents, a live in monkey 'sister', touring Ireland in a band bus while being home schooled, overweight, unpopular, reinventing yourself in a private school, exploring drinking, drugs and sex, losing and finding yourself. Sounds like a great premise for a fiction novel or even a TV pilot doesn't it? Yes, except that it happens to be the real thing. This is Hannah Friedman's life. And all of the above? All true. I love this quote from her mother when Hannah objects to going on tour in Ireland. We have fed you and clothed you and paid for piano lessons and glitter rainbow shoes, and I spent sixteen hours in labour with you, and now we've finally found a competent monkey-sitter after twenty-seven interviews, so you. Are. Going." Definitely not your typical suburban upbringing. Hannah yearns to be popular and fit in. Academically gifted, she wins a scholarship to a prestigious private school and is able to reinvent herself. Hannah finds herself in THE popular clique. Happy at last. But is she? She begins to experiment with drinking, drugs and sex. What struck me the most was the brutal honesty in Everything Sucks. Friedman puts it all out there, the disappointment, the anger, the shame, the wondering, the search and the journey to find her place in life. No subject is sacrosanct. A fantastic read, one I couldn't put down. Hannah's journey to find what's really cool was addicting. I think the book's dedication speaks volumes - " For everyone who is sure they will never fit in. And for my parents, who taught me that it's just more fun not to." Friedman is an amazing young woman. She was the youngest person to have an article published in Newsweek magazine - ironically about the battle to get into a 'good' school. Her voice is fresh, funny and real. I hope she continues to write - I'd love to hear about her next 20 years.
Once I started reading EVERYTHING SUCKS I couldn't put it down. Hannah had the ability to take humor, sadness, and all the other problems that every high school girl had at one time or another and turn it into a wonderful novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to laugh. It's hilarious. Lorraine
As I began this book, I found Hannah's problems trivial and silly. That of a typical young woman grouping up with a monkey as a sister. I could relate to the need to fit in and be adored. As the book progressed though, Hannah's life spirals. Her need to fit in leads her down very destructive paths. As an author she is able to build the momentum of the book without a blink of an eye. On one page she is getting her period for the first time and the next minute cocaine is involved. It was like jogging, one minute your pulse is slow and steady and the next minute your heart is pounding as you push your feet into the pavement. As a student, some of my favorite material in this book is when Hannah is at Citysemester, where the students are free to explore their thoughts and feelings towards works of art, place and experiences; "Now this is you - the reader, the listener. . .And these are your 'perspective lenses' They are colored by every part of your life: your parents, your friends, the culture and time you grew up in. . . All these things play a part in forming your own unique perspective." - page 168 By the end of the book I wasn't sure how to feel. There was some joy to it, but there was not the neat conclusion that readers are used to finding. But that is okay the book is not about happy endings. It is about education, friendship, teenage-angst, self esteem and Hannah herself. Although she might not know it, through this book she has found at least one admirer and a person who hopes she does well. I wish you luck Hannah. Wonderful book.
Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.com EVERYTHING SUCKS is the blas? and brazen memoir of Yale graduate Hannah Friedman, recounting those awkward childhood and teenage years when everything truly does suck. Imagine being a first-born human child only to live in the shadows of a monkey. Thus begins Hannah's life, with Amelia the monkey as an older sibling of sorts who can get away with anything. Hannah's mother saved Amelia from an opium withdrawal death and adopted her into the family. Amelia repaid the favor by garnering a Hollywood movie role that bought the Friedmans' house. While there might be a few pros to having a monkey at home, ultimately it just really sucks. Hannah becomes known as The Monkey-Girl Freak at school and, try as she might, she never can quite integrate herself into public school social circles. When her father uproots the family to the United Kingdom for a whirlwind music tour to promote his new album, Hannah balks at the idea. No, her father - Dean Friedman - is not a rock star, rather a one-hit wonder from the 1970s. Hannah is dragged along for the ride, witnessing a colossal bust of a tour, though there are some fun Twinkie dinners and eccentric people to brighten up the rainy days. Back in middle school, Hannah is determined to reinvent herself. Perhaps with her newfound worldliness she can charm her way into the upper echelon of popularity. Alas, her dreams are shattered when she finds herself even lower (if that's possible) on the totem pole than before. Imagine Hannah's surprise when she transfers to a private boarding school and finds herself inadvertently in the midst of the most popular and glamorous clique there is. Unfortunately, the world she now finds herself in is more complicated, b****y, superficial, and ugly than she ever would have guessed from its glossy appearance. The constant battle for supremacy is consuming - everyone strives to be the sexiest and thinnest while backstabbing anyone who gets in the way. The drama takes its toll on Hannah, whose values and self-esteem are easily molded by those around her. Eating disorders and drug problems aside, Hannah is finally becoming the girl she always imagined she could be. Translation: This sucks way more than being Monkey-Girl Freak ever did. Friedman successfully recaptures her teenage angst and desperate need to fit in, reliving some of the most embarrassing and difficult times of her life thus far. For most young college graduates, writing a memoir is out of the question. The result would be a dreadfully boring, typically short-sighted narrative. Friedman, on the other hand, can already reflect thoughtfully on her experiences of the recent past and provide a heartbreakingly honest voice of the teenage girl. While EVERYTHING SUCKS occasionally harmonizes with Mean Girls, Friedman's autobiographical foray is unique in its approach. Simply put, she tells it like it is.