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Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I should die before I awake,
I pray the popular attend my wake.
Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop
If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.
Praise for ghostgirl:
* Polished dark-and-deadpan humor, it's a natural fit with Gen Y, too."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
* "[Tonya] beats out witty teen-speak like a punk-band drummer, keeping the narrative fast-paced and fun yet thought-provokingly heartwarming. Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying."--Kirkus (starred review)
*"Tim Burton and Edgar Allan Poe devotees will die for this fantastic, phantasmal read."--School Library Journal (starred review)
* "Readers with a taste for black humor and satire will feast on Hurley's crisp, wise dialogue. Anticipate a well deserved cult following." --VOYA (starred review)
"Written with deadpan wit...this is a 'Wonderful Life'-like tale." -New York Post
"A sincere (and humorous) exploration ofhow we all feel invisible at one time or another...perfect read." -CosmoGirl
About the Author
Tonya Hurley es escritora, guionista, galardonada productora de cine y diseñadora de productos. En televisión, es responsable del contenido de las populares series protagonizadas por las gemelas Mary-Kate y Ashley Olsen, así como de su diseño de marketing. Su más reciente obra, Ghostgirl, está siendo propuesta para una película.
Read an Excerpt
Ever Feel Invisible?
"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."You never think it will happen to you.
You think about what it would be like. You go through it over and over in your mind changing the scenario slightly each time, but deep down, you don't really believe it would ever happen because it's something that happens to someone else, not to you. Charlotte Usher headed purposefully across the parking lot to the front doors of Hawthorne High repeating her positive mantra - "This year is different. This is my year." Instead of being forever etched in her classmates high school memories as the girl who just took up space, the seat filler, the one who sucked up precious air that could be put to better use, she was going to start off this year on the other foot, a foot with the hottest, most uncomfortable shoes that money could buy. She'd wasted last year feeling like the unwanted stepchild of the Hawthorne High student body and she wasn't about to go out like that. This year, the first day of school was going to be the first day of her new life. Approaching the front steps, she could see the last flashes from the school yearbook staff's cameras sparking in the doorway, as Petula Kensington and her crew strutted further and further down the hallway. They were always the last to arrive and then they sucked everyone in behind them in some kind of super-popular undertow. With their entrance, the school year had officially begun. And Charlotte was alone outside and falling behind schedule. Same as always. So far. The janitor manning the doorway peeked outside and looked around to see if anyone was coming. There wasn't. Well, there was, but, as usual, he had overlooked Charlotte, who was picking up speed as he began to close the massive metal door. To her, it looked like the door to a bank vault. But undaunted for a change, Charlotte reached the doors and found just enough room to squeeze in her new shoe and keep it from closing. "Sorry, I didn't see you," the janitor mumbled indifferently. She wasn't seen, which was expected, but she did get some acknowledgement and an apology. Her 'Popular Plan' -- a 'to-do' list which she had meticulously in hopes of snagging the object of her desire Damen Dylan -- must have been working. Like many of her peers, Charlotte spent all summer working, but, unlike most, she was self-employed. She had dedicated herself to getting and had memorized last year's yearbook like her life depended on it. She'd studied Petula, the most popular girl in school, and her two ass-kissing best friends, The Wendys -- Wendy Anderson and Wendy Thomas -- the way some fangirls study their favorite celebrity. She wanted to get it perfect. Just like them. She approached the first destination on her agenda with confidence: the sign up sheet for cheerleader try-outs. Cheerleader. The most-prized and exclusive 'sorority' of all and her Golden Ticket to being not only noticed, but envied. Charlotte grabbed the old pen that was dangling from the clipboard by a frayed string held together with masking tape, and started to sign her name in the last open spot. As she started writing the 'C,' she was tapped harshly on the shoulder. Charlotte stopped writing and turned to see who was interrupting her first task of the day, no, of her new life, and then saw a line of girls who had been 'camped out' all night waiting to sign up. The gathering resembled less of a try-out than a casting call. The tapping girl looked her over from head to toe, grabbed the pen, and simultaneously wrote her name in and Charlotte's off. She then opened her hand and let the pen mercilessly drop the length of the string. Charlotte watched the pen sway against the wall like a hanged man. She heard the pack of aspiring cheerleaders giggling behind her as she walked away. Charlotte had experienced this kind of cruelty before - to her face and behind her back -- and had always tried not to care about what other people thought or said about her. But even in makeover mode, she hadn't developed a skin so thick it could withstand total mortification. Charlotte shook it off, refusing to lose her temper or her dignity. She consulted her planner and muttered, "Locker Assignments," to herself as she crossed it off the list and headed quickly to her next destination. As she walked, her mind raced through her doings the past summer. If she was being honest, she had to admit that she had gone to a ridiculous amount of effort to get his attention. Some might say too much. There was no 'nipping' or 'tucking,' nothing that extreme -- but the hair, the diet, the wardrobe, the grooming, and the styling had pretty much taken up her entire vacation. After all, she'd taken a chance on herself and when all is said and done what real harm could come from a massive dose of self-improvement anyway? Sure, she knew it was mainly…ok, totally, surface stuff, but so what. If her life so far was any indication, all that pat 'inner beauty' sermonizing was a load of crap anyway. 'Inner Beauty' did not get you invited to the greatest parties, with the coolest people. It certainly didn't get you invited to the Fall Ball with Damen Dylan. Bottom line, Damen was a priority and and deadlines like the dance had a way of motivating her. Life was a series of choices and she'd made hers. Charlotte was able to excuse her detour into superficiality as a strategic move. The way she saw it, there were only two ways to Damen. One was through Petula and her posse. But given her reputation, or lack of one, those odds were not good. Those girls had always been popular. They always would be. In fact, the whole essence of popularity was it's very unattainability. It wasn't something to be worked at or achieved. It was conferred -- by what or whom, Charlotte thought, remained a mystery. But -- and this is where Charlotte's game plan took a much more subtle turn - if she could manage to look enough like Petula and The Wendys, act enough like them, think like them, 'fit in' with people Damen fit in with, she might have a chance with him. There was a lot to be said for "looking the part," and she thought she had gotten at least that much right. This led her to the other way to Damen. The better option. Her preferred option, was to bypass the girls completely and go straight for Damen himself. This was a risky move, for sure, since she wasn't much of a flirt. The makeover was the necessary first step, but the next phase was make or break. She'd arranged to take classes she knew he would be in and to hang around his locker, which she was on her way to locate. Like everyone else, Damen had never given Charlotte a moment's notice before and some make-up and a professional blowout were unlikely to change that. Still, Charlotte held out hope. Hope that if she could just spend some quality time with him, especially now that she had upgraded her exterior, things might yet work out. This wasn't just wishful thinking on her part but rather a conclusion Charlotte had drawn from intensive observation of Damen. In the hundreds of pictures she had secretly taken of him during the years, Charlotte believed that she had detected a certain, well, decency in him. It was in his eyes, in his smile. Damen was gorgeous and athletic and behaved exactly as an authentically handsome guy was supposed to behave -- superior -- but he was nice about it. Unsurprisingly, his decency was the thing about Damen that Petula liked the least. Maybe it was the quality she most disliked because it was the one she, and all her friends, lacked the most. With the laughter from the cheerleading candidates still echoing in her ears, Charlotte was needing a little luck as she approached the gym. The locker assignments were posted on the double doors and Charlotte made a beeline for them. She ran her finger slowly down the alphabetized column of students, the P-Z page, glancing at their locker numbers as she searched for her own. Each name was familiar, they were kids she'd grown up with, known since pre-school, or from elementary school, or middle school. Their faces flashed through her mind like a slide show. Then she came to her name: USHER, CHARLES. Locker: 7. "Seven is a lucky number!" she said, taking it as a good omen. "Biblical, in fact." She reached into her backpack and took out a pencil, threw it back in and fished out a pen. She changed her name permanently from 'Charles' to 'Charlotte.' She wanted it to be right -- especially today. Another finger-hunt down the locker list revealed Damen's locker was on the other side of the building. She headed to her locker, giving herself a pep talk the whole way. "No big deal," Charlotte reassured herself as she tested the combination on her lock a few times, opening and closing the door, before setting off to find Damen's. She continued to walk and talk to herself, gesturing like some theater geek rehearsing a monologue when she suddenly started to choke. Preoccupied, she'd come to the skywalk, which was filled with smokers taking their last drags before class. The synchronous exhaling of carbon dioxide produced a thick, acrid fog and it was already too late to hold her breath. So, she walked faster. Conversations ended one by one as Charlotte passed through. Lit cigarette butts were drowned in Venti coffee cups or pounded out into the concrete, as swirly traces of smoke escaped upward all around her. As she emerged from the haze and approached the doors at the other end of the walkway, Charlotte could see a bunch of kids gathering and backing their way down the hall like autograph hounds at the Stage Door of a sold-out show. "Damen!" she gasped with awe. Above the throng, all she could see was his thick, beautiful hair, but that was all she needed. She knew it was his hair. No shapers, no wax, no putty, no gum, gel, volumizer, goop or hint of metrosexuality of any kind. Just a simply gorgeous head of wavy hair. Charlotte kept her eyes on the prize as she broke into that weirdly desperate kind of run-walk that she'd used to get to the bus stop earlier, and sped breathlessly toward the locker next to his. She arrived just before Damen and the adoring crowd that had parted to let him through. It had been a while since she had been this close to him in person and it affected her more than she thought it would. She'd viewed him, or at least pictures of him, all summer but this was the real thing. She was star struck. As he approached, the crowd converged. The closer he got, the less of him she could actually see. She stepped into the whirl of activity around him trying to get closer still, but she was drowned in the vortex each time. On this, her first day, Charlotte found herself in an all too familiar place -- on the outside looking in.