When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other. They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first everythings. When they're together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can't happen twice.
Told in Carolina and Trevor's alternating voices, Forever for a Year by B. T. Gottfred is an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever.
“Poignant, quirky, and achingly honest, Forever for a Year is a pitch-perfect debut about first loves, first heartbreaks, and first forevers. This is the reason we read YA.” —Jessica Brody, author of the Unremembered Trilogy
“Debut author Gottfred captures the starry-eyed exhilaration of first love (and nervous first explorations of sex) with tenderness and humor. . . . Readers will need hearts of steel not to fall for this love story and its two storytellers.” -Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Like Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, this work is a tale of first love. . . . A swoon-inducing and heartbreaking novel.” -School Library Journal
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|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||17 - 18 Years|
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Forever for a Year
By B. T. Gottfred
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2015 B. T. Gottfred
All rights reserved.
Carrie will now be Carolina
It was my idea for us to start using our full names. It was going to help us take ourselves more seriously now that we were starting high school. It's like I used to be Carrie, this awkward eighth grader, but now I was going to be Carolina, this amazing freshman. Oh my gosh, this sounds so dumb when I say it like that. Never mind.
Wait a minute. Just because I didn't want to be geeky Carrie anymore didn't mean Carolina wasn't going to be a good student. She was. I mean, I was. Obviously. I mean, school was still the most important thing. By far. And if you ask me, I wasn't really a geek in junior high. I'm super normal. It's just that other people thought my best friend, Peggy, and I were geeks, so we didn't really argue with them. Can you even do that? Argue with popular people on how they categorize you? Maybe you can, though it probably would have just made us even bigger geeks in their eyes. Gosh! Why was I worrying about this NOW? It was the first day of high school and I had to get ready! I mean, I was totally ready. I had been waiting by the front door for twenty minutes for Peggy and her sister to pick me up. But, you know, get ready in my mind. Because this year was going to change my life. I just knew it.
So I sat and pictured ("envisioned" might be the better word) how today would go in my head. Except the horrible stuff that happened with my dad earlier kept popping into my brain and I got mad at him again, and suddenly I felt like I was going to cry (again) and if that happened, I was sure my first day would be ruined, which might ruin my entire existence. Wait a minute! I reminded myself that I'm in control, that I'm super smart, that my dad was part of my past, not my future, and then I felt better.
And then I heard the honk. And even though nobody could have gotten out to the car faster than I did, Katherine honked again. Katherine is Peggy's sister. She's not very patient. Or nice. In fact, she's kind of a lunatic. But she has a car, and if I did everything she said, I wouldn't have to take the bus. And taking the bus is for losers. At least that's what Katherine said.
By the way, Peggy's new name is Marguerite. It's not her new name. It's on her birth certificate, just like Carolina is on mine, but nobody knows it's her name. Except me, because we're best friends, remember? Peggy wouldn't go by her longer name unless Katherine said it was okay. See, Katherine was a junior, and always tan and really pretty when she wore lots of makeup, and — most important to Peggy (and maybe me) — Katherine was super popular. Maybe the most popular girl ever to go to Riverbend High School. And since Peggy wanted to be cooler in high school even more than I did, Peggy wouldn't go by Marguerite unless Katherine said it was okay. Which she did.
I would've become Carolina no matter what Katherine said. Because I was ready.
* * *
"What's wrong?" Peggy asked as I got in the back seat of the Civic, which Katherine had painted CRAPMOBILE on the side of with nail polish. (I'm gonna have to learn to call Peggy Marguerite in my head, aren't I?) Anyway, Peggy/Marguerite knew something was wrong even though I had hoped I was over it because Peggy has known me since before time began. (Actually, fourth grade.) I should stop exaggerating for effect. I'm in high school now. High schoolers don't do that. Maybe they do. I don't know. But they shouldn't. They should be mature enough to just tell the truth as it is. Which is what I'm going to do.
I said, "Nothing," to Peggy. She knew it was not nothing, but she also knew my "nothing" meant I didn't want to talk about what was wrong right then. I mean, I kind of did, but not in front of Katherine. I wanted to tell Peggy ALL about how my dad had ruined my first/last/only morning before my first day of high school. But Peggy knew to drop it for now, because she's amazing, and changed the subject.
"Guess what? Katherine talked to her friend Elizabeth Shunton, who's the older sister of Shannon Shunton, and told her to tell Shannon that she should be our friend this year."
Katherine, who was driving like a person who thought looking at the road was optional, grinned. "I'm gonna make you two the hottest chicks in the freshman class. You watch. You will love me."
I smiled at Peggy, pretending to be excited about being friends with Shannon Shunton. Because I was so not excited. Shannon Shunton was the most popular girl in eighth grade, and I suppose she would be the most popular freshman, but I didn't care about being popular. (Okay, I'm lying! I totally already admitted I wanted to be popular.) But, and I mean this, I don't care about it if it means pretending to want to be friends with Shannon Shunton. Who is the meanest person ever. She could make you cry just by rolling her eyes at you. How could you be friends with someone like that?
Katherine started giving us a lecture on how we should walk through the halls, where we should sit in the cafeteria, what boys we should talk to (soccer players yes, football players maybe, band members no), and how she knew we were both good students, but maybe we shouldn't try too hard or it would make us look geeky. This is the dumbest thing ever said. But probably true. This is why I shouldn't care about being popular! Or boys! Or any of it!
Riverbend High School, which most kids call The Bend, came into view as we turned right past the bank onto Kirby Street. It looked huge. Peggy (I mean, Marguerite) and I came here most of July for soccer camp, but it was empty during the summer, like a ghost school. But now we were pulling into the parking lot and there were so many cars and kids, and they were so tall, and looked like they were thirty years old even though they could only be four years older than me. My stomach started eating my insides. This is what happens when I get nervous. My stomach becomes an alien and eats all my organs and I almost die. Yes, I exaggerated, okay! I'm sorry. Gosh.
"Now, Carrie," Katherine said, turning back to me as she parked.
"Carolina," Peggy said. A big mistake.
Katherine's face jumped two feet in the air as she screamed: "YOU MAKE YOUR FRESHMAN DORKS CALL YOU THAT; I CALL YOU WHATEVER I WANT, PEGGY! PEGGY! PEGGY! PEGGY! OKAY, PEGGY?"
See? Lunatic. But she was my best friend's sister and my ride. So I listened as she began again.
"Carrie, listen to me. My ugly sister Peggy hit the jackpot the past four months, in case you didn't notice." Katherine pointed at Peggy's boobs. Which had grown from super small to SUPER huge in 114 days. It was amazing. Like when you add water to a scrunched-up straw wrapper, but not that fast. Obviously. We started measuring them every day, laughing like it was the funniest thing ever, until one day she cried from her back hurting and I cried because I was still flat. Peggy slunk down in the front seat, her face becoming one big freckle of embarrassment. Katherine continued, "And she still has skinny legs. She doesn't quite get it even though I've told her, like, every day, but every dude with a penis, even the gay ones, are gonna stare at her, want to talk to her, ask her out, and kiss her just so they can reach up her shirt. Trust me, I know this, and this is so true. But your boobs are still small and you dress like a boy, so we are going to have to come up with a thing to make boys like you. I can't put my reputation on the line for you if you aren't willing to make boys like you. So I'm thinking you should learn to talk dirty. Like they do in porn. Guys love it. This college guy, Nick, would go nuts when I would say certain stuff. And they'll never expect you to talk like that, because you're such a goody-good girl. It will make them see you as someone new. So I want you to learn to say things like, 'I get turned on thinking about you.' So go ahead and say that right now." (Except she didn't say "turned on"; she said something so embarrassing I don't want to even think it.)
She beamed her big saucer eyes down at me. Making me feel one inch tall. And like she stole my ability to talk even though she wanted me to say something. No, no, no! I was not going to say that ever. I'd walk to school. I'd even take the bus! Ugh. I hate Katherine. Hate her. Hate her. Hate her.
"Say it or I'll know you're a big waste of my time and you'll stay a loser like you were in junior high."
I didn't care. I'd be a loser. Life is one hundred years. High school is only four.
"Don't be a loser, Carrie!"
Ugh. This was so unfair! "I get turned on thinking about you." Except I said it her gross way. I know I said I wouldn't, but Katherine is crazy and sometimes you have to do what crazy people say or they get even crazier. And, OBVIOUSLY, I know what it means. I'm a teenager and there's this thing called the stupid internet.
"Good job," Katherine said, grinning as she looked at herself in the mirror. Pouting her lips and narrowing her eyes like movie stars do on red carpets. She continued, "Marguerite and Carolina, yeah? Okay. Okay. I got your backs. Let's rock this." She swung open her door. Peggy and I slinked out of the car and fell in line behind her as she marched us toward the northeast entrance. (And I know I'm supposed to call her Marguerite! I'm sorry, okay? I had a really difficult morning.)
Wait a minute.
Wait. A. Minute.
I was starting high school.CHAPTER 2
Trevor doesn't give a ...
"Dad," I said, but I pretended I didn't know why he was talking to me.
"Dad!" I knew that would be our last back-and-forth name calling. I was right. My dad stepped — in two giant, super-loud steps — across the room from the doorway toward my bed. I was still lying in it. It was seven thirty or something. Classes were starting in twenty minutes. I was going to be late. I hadn't overslept. I'd just overstayed in bed. Staring at the ceiling.
Thinking about how there was another Trevor in another dimension who was happy. A Trevor who had gotten up on time, was excited about school, and had friends, a girlfriend, and a reason to live. Then I was thinking about how this Other Dimension Trevor would be clueless, and I would hate him for being clueless. Because I might not have any of those things Other Trevor did — friends, a girl, a reason to live — but at least I wasn't clueless. I knew what the world was really like. I had seen its dark, corrupt core, and I couldn't and wouldn't unsee it.
My dad didn't care about Other Dimension Trevor. He didn't care much about This Dimension Trevor right now either, because he was mad. He didn't get mad very often. So when he was mad, you could tell. And right now, as he sat on my bed, you could tell he was very, very mad.
He grabbed my shoulder and turned me toward him. I didn't fight it. He's not evil. He's just ignorant. Ignorant that everything is bullshit. "Trevor, this is a new school and a new year. Don't you want to start off on the right foot?"
"That's a cliché, Dad. 'Start off on the right foot.' I no longer comprehend clichés. Try again."
"Trevor. No smart-mouth. Get up. I'm driving you."
"You're going to be late for work."
"Don't worry about me. Get up. Lily refused to get on the bus since you were still sleeping. Now she's late too. So get up now. We leave here in twenty minutes."
"Mom can drive me."
"Your mother is sleeping."
"Are we sure she's sleeping? She might be dead." This was a joke. You don't understand it, because you don't know my mom overdosed on sleeping pills over a year ago. Maybe you don't find it funny now that you know. Neither did my dad. He gave me that look where I feel I'm the worst son ever born.
"Okay, fine," I said, but I didn't move. So he didn't move. "Fine. Okay. I'm up." I kicked off the blankets and sheets, which also dislodged him from my bed. A bonus. He didn't leave the room until I walked into my bathroom.
Yeah, I have my own bathroom now. My little sister, Lily, who's seven but talks like she's forty, says this is the best part of our new house. "We really should be grateful, Trevor. Not many children get their own bathroom. We should be grateful for a lot of things, I believe. Our family really needed the fresh start." She's right. She's super smart. She was smarter when she was five, but then the crap happened with my mom and now she tries too hard. But she's still the smartest seven-year-old ever.
I turned on the shower, sat down in the tub and just let the water rain down on me. I love sitting in the shower. Usually do it for forty-five minutes. Just sit and think and sometimes don't think, which is just as nice. Lily says it's bad for the environment, wasting all that water. I tell her it's not wasting water; it's saving my soul. Then she says, "I have such a strange brother," and walks away.
My dad pounded on my bathroom door less than ten minutes into my shower escape. I almost pretended not to hear him, but I decided to be nice. His year has been pretty crappy too.
* * *
My mom grew up in Riverbend, Illinois. That's why we moved back here from Los Angeles, to be closer to my grandma and Uncle Hank and his family. My grandpa, who was super cool because he just listened and didn't try to impress you, died a few months before my mom overdosed. He had a stroke, didn't like being weak, stopped eating, and just died. My grandma blames his death for my mom's depression. My dad agrees, which is total denial. My mom's been depressed my whole life, so it has nothing to do with my grandpa dying. Just a good excuse. I don't blame her for being depressed. Life is pointless. I'm sorry. It is. But I am pissed at her for trying to leave us behind.
I was going to be a freshman this year. I was a freshman last year in Los Angeles too. But about two weeks in, I'd said screw this, I'm not going to school anymore. My mom had just come home after months at some fancy loony bin resort, so my dad thought I wanted to stay home to make sure my mom was okay. But I didn't care. I mean, I cared about her. I still do. But I didn't care about stopping her from trying to kill herself again. Because, guess what? You can't stop people from hurting themselves. Impossible. So I'm smart enough to never try. I'm also smart enough to know my dad wasn't going to fight me about going to school last year. But after twelve months of video games and a move halfway across the country, he was fighting me this time.
"Trevor! We are walking out this door!" he yelled from downstairs. I threw on some jeans, Chucks, and a blue T-shirt that just said FREE YOURSELF. All my T-shirts say crap like that. People are so gullible. Free yourself from what? Exactly.
I hadn't gotten a haircut since my mom's thing. That's a lie. My dad made me get a trim two days ago, but my hair was still pretty long. Below my ears. I couldn't quite put it in a ponytail, at least not a cool one. But soon.
When I got in the back of my dad's BMW, Lily handed me a bagel with cream cheese and a bottle of water.
"Why don't you say thank you, Trevor," my dad said.
"I was about to, but you didn't give me a chance," I said. "Thanks, Lily."
"Do you know what I was thinking might be a fun activity this weekend for the whole family?" Lily started. See? Like she's forty! She's blond like my mom, tall for her age, and probably will be the most beautiful woman ever by the time she's a teenager. If she becomes president someday, we'll all be lucky. "I think we should drive into Chicago, shop on Michigan Avenue, and then have dinner somewhere nice. We haven't done that yet, and we've been here a whole month. I really think that could make us feel like we belong here. What do you both think about this idea?"
"I think that's a great idea," my dad said. He likes Lily better than me. I can't even be angry at him for this. I like Lily better than me too.
I said, "Sure, Lily. But only if I don't have tons of pointless homework that I must do for no reason."
"Trevor, I think you're going to like high school this year. I really do," Lily said. She's always trying to be my life coach.
When we stopped outside Skvarla Elementary, Lily turned to my dad and me and said, "Both of you have wonderful days," and then hopped out and sprinted toward the entrance, her hair swishing and backpack spinning on her right arm. Only when she ran like that did you remember she was seven years old.
I think it reminded my dad of the same thing, because he mumbled, "I should walk her in on her first day," and then jumped out of the car and ran after her. Later, watching him walk back to the car, he had this smile that only Lily can give him. That smile was gone by the time he got back behind the wheel. He had to deal with me now. "Get in the front, Trevor."
Excerpted from Forever for a Year by B. T. Gottfred. Copyright © 2015 B. T. Gottfred. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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