When the going gets tough, the tough get ... pink!
Someone wants the Pink Locker Society gone, but Jemma and her BFFs are sticking together.
"Shut down the PLS - or else!" A mysterious someone keeps sending Jemma, Kate, and Piper threatening messages, but they won't stop the Pink Locker Society. They know the girls at their middle school need them. Who else will answer their questions about everything from bras to boys? And, the truth is, Jemma has just (secretly) submitted a question of her own. It's about Forrest, her forever crush. He asked her to be his pretend girlfriend and she said yes! Jemma promised to tell no one the truth about their relationship, but can she keep it from everyone, including her best friend, Kate? Not that Kate seems to have noticed - she's suddenly obsessed with whether people think she's fat. Beautiful Piper doesn't need to worry about that. She just wants to know if Forrest and Jemma have kissed. But does a real kiss with your pretend boyfriend still count?
About the Author
Debra Moffitt is the kids' editor of KidsHealth.org, the most visited children's health website in the world. Before joining KidsHealth in 2002, she was a newspaper reporter and an online journalist. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the Washington Post and the Miami Herald.
Read an Excerpt
The Forever Crush
The Pink Locker Society
By Debra Moffitt
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Debra Moffitt
All rights reserved.
For the first time in my life, I opened Facebook and changed my profile to say "in a relationship." Then I went one step further and identified the boy I was in a relationship with: Forrest McCann. Joy bubbled up from a deep, unknown well inside my chest. It burst into a towering fountain when I went to Forrest's page and saw he had done the same.
Tiny speck of a problem, though: Forrest is my almost-real boyfriend, my forever crush.
Oh, he's not pretend, like an imaginary friend. He's a real boy. But we've made a pact to pretend we are going out with each other. Or rather, he offered me this part and I took it. Forrest said he was worn out with girl trouble and wanted to be officially out of the dating scene for a while. Here was his plan: If I was his pretend girlfriend, no one would bother him. It would be like being on base when you're playing tag. No one can touch you.
There was no chance I'd say no. I wanted to get closer to him and this seemed like one rung on that very long ladder. We already knew each other well, if not recently well. I've known Forrest since preschool because our parents are friends. But something changed along the way, at least for me, and I started to crush on him in an overwhelming way. Forrest is all grown up now and he absolutely fascinates me.
The trouble is Forrest fascinates lots of girls. There was Taylor and then Piper (briefly), and now the Bouchard sisters, Lauren and Charlotte, and — it seems — every great-looking girl in a 100-mile radius. Why? He plays football and sings in a band and his beachy brown hair falls over his left eye. Enough said?
I know what you are thinking. Jemma, duck! Get out of the way! Big mistake being made! Do not be someone's pretend girlfriend!
Oh, how I wish you were there at the time to give me that good advice. But I was on my own when I accepted Forrest's unusual proposal. I swore that I'd tell no one the truth about us. Why did I agree to this? Well, I guess it's because Forrest had just told me something true about himself: He was having trouble with girl-boy relationships and wanted a break. It made me extraordinarily happy to help him solve this problem. When it comes to tall, broad-shouldered, green-eyed Forrest, I rarely use anything like logic or reasoning to guide my decisions. I rely instead on my crooked heart, which was about to send me on a meandering journey.
Looking back, being his pretend girlfriend was a lot like being in a foreign country, where I didn't speak the language or understand the customs. But like all journeys of my heart, this one would start and end with Forrest McCann.CHAPTER 2
"Love is in the air!" Kate sang out to me when she found me in the girls' restroom. In her hand, she held the invitation to Ms. Russo and Mr. Ford's New Year's Eve wedding, but I knew she meant love was in the air for me and Forrest, too.
"Are you so totally, over-the-moon, can't-sleep-a-wink happy?" my best friend asked. She wore a look of such happy hopefulness that it almost made me weep.
"Sure, yes. Of course. I'm happy. It's great," I said.
"Details, details, I need to know all the details," Kate said. "Wait! Don't say anything yet. You can tell me and Piper at lunch."
And before I could gather my thoughts enough to respond, Kate had spun around and was heading out the door. But in almost the same second she stepped out of the restroom, she poked her head back in and said, "And now you will have the perfect date for the wedding. Aahhh!"
Her over-the-top, excited "Aahhh!" echoed in the restroom after she left. Thank God, I was alone. No one was there to see me lean on the restroom sink, for support, and look at myself in the mirror. Who was I and how long could I keep this up?
I wished I could turn to the Pink Locker Society instead of being one of three people in charge of it. This is totally the kind of question the PLS could help someone with. But since it was my problem and I was stuck inside of it, I had zero creative ideas about what to do. I couldn't just submit a question to the PLS Web site and wait for an answer. Or could I?CHAPTER 3
FAT or NOT?
That was the screaming title inside a spiral notebook that was making its way around the eighth grade. The rules were simple. Everyone's name was listed next to columns labeled "FAT" or "NOT FAT." People put stars in the boxes to "vote" for which one they thought you were.
I've always been thin and I don't even need to shop in women's clothing stores yet, but still I raced to my name. Phew, a long parade of stars under "not fat." Then I started poking around looking for other people's names. Piper, not fat, of course. Bet, not fat. Forrest, not fat.
Gorgeous teen model, Clem Caritas, definitely skinny, skinny, skinny. Clem's little sister, I had noticed, was now a sixth-grader. Mimi looked nothing like the stunning Clem. She was not overweight, but Mimi was shorter and rounder than her willowy big sis. It was enough to make me glad I had no brothers or sisters — no one to compare myself to.
I continued to scan the list until my eyes stopped and stared at Kate's name. Instead of all her stars being bunched in the "not fat" column, it was mixed. An almost even number of people put their stars under "fat" and "not fat."
"Ugh, no way," I said to myself. Unfortunately, this was math class and Mr. Ford heard me.
He shot me a look.
I nodded and remembered that I could not get caught with this notebook. It was secret from teachers, who'd almost certainly punish me for having it, let alone writing in it. We were supposed to be working on homework, so I figured I could enter my votes now and it would look like I was working on parallelograms and rhombuses (or is it rhombi?).
I inked a big blue star under "not fat" for Kate and went on through the rest of the list. I was kind, I think, and only listed as "fat" people who really did seem overweight. Like Emma Shrewsberry and Alex Donovan. Kate was, well, just Kate. "She's got an hourglass figure," my mother had said. Kate was bigger than me but not in a bad way. I hoped that Emma, Alex, and especially Kate did not see this notebook. When I was done, I tucked it into my purple English folder and went back to work on my geometry.
I wondered how Forrest had voted in the Fat or Not book. Had he given me one of my "not fat" stars? I figured that was what was expected of a boyfriend, that he would stick up for me in this kind of situation. It was another way of saying I was good-looking or at least not bad-looking. I glanced over my shoulder to the back corner of the room to see if maybe he was using a distinctive pen. Then I could have scanned the book again and figured out if he had already rated me.
But then I saw that his writing instrument of choice was just a boring old yellow number two pencil. I spun back around quickly because I didn't want him to catch me looking at him. He wasn't my real boyfriend and it took all my strength to remember that.CHAPTER 4
Once you understand the cafeteria, you can be super efficient. And just about every eighth-grader knows the routine. You can pack your lunch, bring your own drink, and maximize the time you and your friends have to gab it up before it's time for afternoon classes. Or, you can buy your lunch, but you have to get there lickety split or you'll be at the end of the line. By the time you pay for your lunch, you will have hardly any time to eat it.
I used neither of those tactics today. I packed my lunch but left my raspberry seltzer water in my locker on purpose so that I could spend time in the lunch line getting a drink. I then moved at a snail-like pace to the cafeteria and stood in line instead of just jumping to the front to grab my milk. By the time I reached our table, Kate was halfway finished with her PB&J and Piper was pushing around the remnants of her spinach salad.
"Where were you, Mrs. McCann? With Mr. McCann?" Piper teased.
My stomach did a somersault and my face reddened.
"She's blushing," Kate said with a grin.
"Stop it, you guys. I was getting a drink," I said.
"Okay, we'll buy that if you tell us the whole story. Start at the beginning. He came over to your house for dinner and ...," Kate said.
"Right, my parents invited his whole family."
I took a moment to set out my lunch components: grilled chicken wrap, apple, milk.
"And?" Kate said.
"Yes, and?" Piper said.
"My mom thought they were moving and I guessed they almost moved, but they're not moving," I said.
"Okay, we know that," Piper said. "Remember? My mom was their realtor, so I know they're not moving. Go on, please."
"You're not mad at all, Piper?" I said.
Piper had gone to the eighth-grade dance with Forrest and I had been so upset about it. But she moved on.
"He and I were together for, like, half a minute," Piper said. "I'm glad you finally upgraded your crush to a boyfriend." She leaned over to give me a side hug.
Upgraded to a boyfriend? Not exactly.
I started eating my lunch, thinking this would pause the inquiry. For a while Piper and Kate just watched me eat. Bite after bite, all was quiet and they watched me, like I was an egg they were hoping would hatch.
"What?" I said, my mouth finally clear of food.
"Maybe you are new to this, but having a boyfriend is, like, the funnest thing ever to talk about," Piper said. "In fact, I think talking about boys might actually be more fun that being with them. So, umm, what's your deal?"
"Yes, Jem. We're dying here for some details. What happened Saturday night at your house?" Kate said.
"Yes, and why wouldn't you have called us — or at least texted — like, immediately?" Piper asked.
I took a deep breath and began. I told them how we were stuck with Trevor most of the night, but that Forrest told me that he was having trouble with girls.
"He said, 'Girls want answers and I don't have any answers, Jem.'"
"Awww. He called you Jem," Kate said. "Did he kiss you then, outside by the grill?"
"No," I said. "He squeezed my hand."
"He held your hand?" Kate asked.
I shook my head no. Then I told them what happened the next morning, when I ran by his house and saw him shooting baskets.
"I asked him to run with me and we ran all the way to Price's Dairy and back. He was really hurting near the end," I said.
"So is it then that he asked you to go out?" Kate asked.
Technically, no. After our run, he asked me to be his pretend girlfriend.
I nodded yes. "We drank ice water together on his back porch until his parents got up to go to church," I said.
Forrest had said, "I don't want to mess anything up for you. So if you're, like, going out with someone now, or there's someone you like, forget about it."
"And he said he liked me and we had a lot in common and why didn't we go out. Seize the day and all that," I said.
"Forrest said 'seize the day'? That so totally doesn't sound like him," Piper said.
"He said something like that, anyway," I said.
"You don't remember his exact words?" Kate said. "I thought you wrote down everything he ever said to you in that diary under your bed."
I do. The real truth is all there.
"Kate! TMI, don't you think? I mean, I have a boyfriend now, so I can't be all blabby about everything," I said.
"I am," Piper said.
"She is," Kate agreed.
It was right then that I was about to say something witty about how Piper had a lot more to tell, with her having a different boyfriend every week. But in a flash, Forrest walked right up to our table, punched me softly on the shoulder, and said, "Hey," before heading to history.CHAPTER 5
At study hall, we slipped into the stairwell and descended into the basement, which was our dismal new PLS "office." I wanted to get to work on the Pink Locker Society Web site, but Kate and Piper tried to shake some more Forrest details out of me. I would have liked to ask them what they thought about his soft punch to my shoulder. What did it mean? But they thought he was my boyfriend and that's a pretty normal boyfriend thing to do. I guess I didn't expect him to actually touch me during this fake relationship of ours.
I resisted saying anything more and my friends let it go, partly because we had so much work to do. With literally hundreds of questions coming in to the Pink Locker Society, we were trying to answer at least one question a day. But seven a week was hard, especially because the questions girls sent in weren't always easy. Sure, there were the standard ones about when — oh, when — will I get my period? But there were also ones like this:
I'm just an ordinary girl and I know I'm not skinny, but I didn't think I was fat. That was until I saw my ratings in the Fat or Not book. Twenty-two people said I was not fat, but eighteen people said I was. I asked my mom and she says I'm not, but she's my MOM. What's she going to tell me — the terrible truth? I want to know how to know for sure if I'm fat and how to get thinner, if I am. And FAST. I would like to know exactly who those eighteen people were who said I was fat. So mean!
"I feel so bad for her. Confused Girl is probably Emma Shrewsberry," I said.
"My money is on her, too," Piper said.
"What should we tell her?" Kate asked.
Usually, we take a few moments to think and then we start talking at once, brimming with ideas of how to answer a girl's question. But in this case, it was just quiet and quiet and more quiet.
"I guess I can ask the nurse, right? She'll know something about it," I said.
"Um, she'll know something, but she won't know what to say to make her feel better," Kate said.
"Well, all we can do is try," Piper said. "Jemma, Kate — who wants this one?"
"I'm not qualified to answer," Kate said, stone-faced.
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked her.
"I'm on the fat list, as you both probably know."
Piper and I both looked at Kate with pity. I knew Piper had seen the book and had already filled in her votes.
"Okay, whatever, I honestly don't care at all. It's dumb," Kate said. "But I'm worried for other people."
That was so like Kate, always thinking about others before herself.
"I'll look into it and give Emma a really nice answer," I said. "I'll be supportive, not mean. I promise."
"Please tell me you guys didn't vote in that terrible notebook," Kate said, eyeing both of us.
Piper bit her bottom lip but didn't say a word.
"I have the notebook in my backpack," I admitted with embarrassment.
"You have it? You filled it in?" Kate asked, looking hurt.
I told her that Tyler Lima had given it to me and that I was supposed to pass it on to Charlotte Bouchard. Charlotte and her twin sister, Lauren, were slim as could be. They also both completely, obviously liked Forrest. I wonder how they felt now that I was dating him. Well, now that it appeared that I was dating him, anyway.
Piper sighed dramatically and shook her head at the laptop screen.
"Really?" she said, as if talking directly to the computer.
"What's the matter?" I said.
Piper spun the laptop around and showed us the next message in our queue:
I think you are gross and discusting and you talk about gross and discusting things. If you don't shut yourselves down, I'll shut you down myself.
Your worst enemy
"That's unfriendly," said Kate.
By my count, this was the seventh threat we'd received in the last three weeks. It started with this one:
I know who you all are. Stop now or you'll be sorry. Very sorry.
From there, they seemed to repeat a theme — that what we were saying on the PLS was foul, sick, or otherwise "inappropriate." The use of the "I" word frightened me because that's the word Principal F. used to describe the Pink Locker Society after he forced us to shut it down. And before we restarted it on our own. Shhhh!
"One threat, fine. Two threats, still no big deal. But we're talking about SEVEN threats now," I said. "It's time to do something."
"Like what?" Kate asked.
Excerpted from The Forever Crush by Debra Moffitt. Copyright © 2011 Debra Moffitt. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think this is a great book i love it i read it in a day this was the bomb nothing like the crappy books people will usaully buy this is great read it. Growing girl
this is a book that leads young girls from 8-16 going thru puberty to all the answers to growing up, with fun dialogue, a guide to a successful middle/high school life, a fun BFF club, and Q and A rite whhile your reading! thumbs waaaaay up! (this book is like Beacon Street Girls meets Mother-Daughter Book Club, and all American Girl care guides for girls)