Three years ago, Kennedy Rhodes secretly made the most important decision of her life. She declined her acceptance to the prestigious Windsor Academy to attend the local public school with her longtime crush, who had finally asked her out. It seems it was the right choiceshe and Austin are still together, and Kennedy is now the editor in chief of the school's award-winning newspaper. But then Kennedy's world is shattered one evening when she walks in on Austin kissing her best friend, and she wonders if maybe her life would have been better if she'd made the other choice. As fate would have it, she's about to find out . . .
The very next day, Kennedy falls and hits her head and mysteriously awakes as a student at the Windsor Academy. And not just any student: Kennedy is at the top of her class, she's popular, she has the coolest best friend around, and she's practically a shoo-in for Columbia University. But as she navigates her new world, she starts to wonder whether this alternate version of herself really is as happy as everyone seems to believe. Is it possible this Kennedy is harboring secrets and regrets of her own? A fresh and funny story about how one different choice could change everything, Jessica Brody's In Some Other Life will keep readers guessing, and find them cheering for Kennedy until the final page.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
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If I Fail
Relax. Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out.
It's only the most important week of your life. No big deal. If you fail epically, it's not the end of the world. You'll just wind up miserable, poor, alone, unhappy, and probably diseased.
What's so horrible about that?
Oh God, this meditation thing isn't working.
I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. How do those Tibetan monks do this all day long? How do they not drive themselves crazy with what-if questions?
What if the issue isn't good enough?
What if we don't win the award for the record-breaking fourth year in a row?
What if I totally bomb my admissions interview?
What if I don't get into any college and I have to spend my life scrubbing chewed gum off the underside of desks?
What if ...
"Oh, what a beautiful morning!" My dad opens my bedroom door and glides in, spreading his arms wide and singing totally off-key at the top of his lungs. "Oh, what a beautiful day!"
He's been waking me up the same way since kindergarten. Thankfully it's not always the same song. He has a whole repertoire of morning hymns, most of them originating from musicals that had their heyday decades before I was born.
"I can't do it," I say with a groan. "I can't handle the pressure. Just sign me up for janitor school now and get it over with."
My dad laughs and opens the vertical blinds. I pull the pillow over my head to block the light. "Did anyone ever tell you that you worry too much?"
"Yeah, you. Daily."
He removes the pillow from my face. "Well, you should listen to me. I'm a very wise man." He pulls the covers off me and yanks on my dead arm. "C'mon. Let's go. Up and at 'em, soldier. If I can face today, then you can face today."
The realization hits me like a punch in the gut.
Oh God. That's right. It's my dad's big night. I totally forgot.
I suddenly feel guilty for lying here lamenting about my own stress when my dad is dealing with a major career turning point of his own. Tonight is his first big gallery show. He's been trying to make it as a photographer since pretty much before I was born and this show could change everything. It doesn't really help that the subject matter of his photos is a little on the unusual side. I mean, we all think he's talented, but it's taken a while for the rest of the world to catch up.
"Crap," I swear, jumping out of bed. "Dad, I'm so sorry. I forgot. I'm a terrible daughter. Are you ready? Are you excited? Are you nervous?"
He shrugs and shakes his head. "Nope. Not nervous at all."
Always the cool cucumber, my dad.
That must be a recessive gene because I certainly didn't get it. Frankie, my little brother, on the other hand, he's pretty much my dad's mini-me. Well, if you replace a photography obsession with a theoretical physics obsession.
"How do you do it?" I ask. "How do you stay so calm?"
He shrugs again. "I don't know. I guess I have faith that whatever happens was meant to happen. Oh, and of course I have faith in Magnum."
Magnum is the name of Dad's favorite camera. He named it after Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, the main character of the eighties TV show Magnum, P.I., about a private investigator played by Tom Selleck. He chose the name because Magnum always sees the truth. Just like his camera.
Magnum is one of those fancy models with a bunch of letters and numbers in the name. I can never remember which numbers or letters, though, which is why I'm grateful he calls it Magnum. Dad has loads of cameras, but Magnum is like his best friend. He never leaves the house without it. It's basically an extra appendage.
I sigh. Okay, I can totally do this. I can be chill and relaxed and have faith. I can trust that ...
Dang it! I forgot to tell the printer that we're testing out a brand-new layout in this month's issue. They'll need to double-check all the new margins. I have to email Eric again.
I grab for my phone and open my inbox.
Dad laughs and walks out of the room, kissing me on the top of my head as he passes. "Breakfast in ten." Then he closes the door.
I tap out the email in a flurry and hastily press Send just as I realize I misspelled my own name at the bottom. The email zoomed off so fast I couldn't really see, but I'm pretty sure I signed it from Jennefry. Instead of Kennedy.
I sigh and compose a new email. Eric is going to hate me. If he doesn't already.
Hi Eric. That last email was from Kennedy. Not Jennefry. Just in case you got confused and thought some evil nemesis named Jennefry staged a coup and took over as editor in chief of the paper. Nope. It's still me. Thanks.
I press Send and take a deep breath, glancing up at the wall above my desk, at the three framed issues of the Southwest Star that I hung there. Like every morning, the sight of them instantly gives me strength and calms my nerves.
I exhale and return my attention to my phone, opening my SnipPic app and scrolling through my notifications. I got seven likes on my latest picture. One from Laney, my best friend since freshman year. One from Austin, my boyfriend. And a few from members of the newspaper staff, including Mia Graham, my features editor, who is in line to take over as editor in chief of the paper when I graduate in May.
The picture is one Laney took of me in the newspaper office last night. We had to stay until eleven o'clock and the issue is still not finished.
I scroll through my feed, skimming past the various photos of people I follow, mostly fellow newspaper staffers, until I find the one I'm looking for. It's the latest selfie from CoyCoy55. She's standing in front of the amazing grand brick staircase of the Windsor Academy Prep School, dressed in her pristine blue Windsor Academy blazer with a pressed white-collared shirt underneath. Her gorgeous auburn hair is blowing in the early November breeze and she's smiling that perfect, pink-lipped, white-toothed smile.
She already has fifty-two likes and her caption reads:
Another beautiful day at W.A.! Can't wait to hear our guest lecturer this morning! He's a state senator! #LoveMyLife #WindsorAcademy
A state senator!? Seriously? Who's next? The president?
The other week, they had an astronaut as a guest lecturer, and last year Daphne Wu, my all-time favorite author, came to speak. I came this close to sneaking into their famous amphitheater-style "Lauditorium" just to catch a few words. We never get guest lecturers at Southwest High. Besides, where would they even speak? In our crummy cafeteria where all the tables and chairs squeak? In our pathetic excuse for a theater that smells like dirty socks because it's right next door to the boys' locker room?
With a sigh, I close the SnipPic app and toss my phone on the bed. I bet CoyCoy55 doesn't have to worry about newspaper issues and print shops and impressing alumni interviewers. I bet she doesn't have to worry about anything! Everyone knows that when you go to the Windsor Academy, colleges simply roll out the red carpet for you. You probably don't even have to fill out an application. Every top college in the country probably just hand delivers you an acceptance letter via some white-gloved messenger service.
Meanwhile, across town at Southwest High, we're all grappling for the measly handful of spots the Ivy League colleges reserve for public school kids.
I close my eyes. Relax. Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out.
You can do this. You've got this. Everything is going to be ... Crap.
I forgot to tell the printer we need a hundred extra copies for the award committee members. They're going to have to order more paper.
My eyes flash open. I grab for my phone again and start tapping out another email, praying this won't be the excuse Eric uses to finally add my address to his spam filter.
If the Universe Smelled
Sometimes I wish I went to the Windsor Academy just for the uniforms. I mean, I practically wear the same thing to school every day anyway — jeans, T-shirt, boots, and an old leather jacket that used to belong to my dad back when he was in his "edgy phase," as he likes to call it — but it would be nice to have an excuse to wear the same thing every day and not feel like you're doing it out of basic laziness and a severe allergic reaction to shopping.
My hair goes straight into a side braid, and my books go into my camo-green messenger bag. I grab my interview study guide from my nightstand, where I tossed it last night after I'd stared at the pages for so long the words started to look like they were growing arms and legs.
I check my phone to see if Horace, our design editor at the newspaper, has written me back about the fifteen graphics he still hasn't gotten around to designing for this month's issue, but there's nothing. Typical Horace.
Looks like I'm going to have to spend my entire free period making graphics. Just what I need today: to go to battle with Adobe Illustrator.
There's also been no word from the school's IT guy about the error I was getting last night when I tried to upload our files to the school server.
I groan, slip my phone into my bag, and head downstairs where I'm greeted by the delicious smell of chocolate chip waffles. Dad always puts chocolate chips in the waffles on a big day. He thinks it brings good luck. "Nothing bad ever happens when chocolate is in the equation" is his entire theory about life.
I pull out the stool next to Frankie and sit down at the kitchen counter in front of my pile of newspapers. I subscribe to five national papers that I usually skim each morning over breakfast. As editor in chief of the Southwest Star, I think it's important to keep up to date on what the big-name presses are doing. But today I have to study for my alumni interview, so I push the stack aside as I ask, "Where's Mom?"
Dad pulls a perfectly formed work of art out of the waffle iron and plops it onto a plate. "She had to go into work early so she could be home in time for the show tonight."
It's not unusual for Mom to be gone by the time I get downstairs. She's a partner at a top law firm, which basically means she works crazy hours making sure large corporations pay for their screwups. Dad has always been the stay-at-home parent for Frankie and me. He built his photography studio right in the basement so he could work from home. He likes to joke that his commute is only thirty seconds and there's hardly any traffic.
Dad tops the waffle with maple syrup and whipped cream sculpted into some ambiguous shape and sets the plate down in front of me.
I scrutinize the whipped cream. "Hmm," I say, rotating the plate in a circle. "A giraffe?"
"I was going for 'Darkened Nature of Sorrow.'"
I snap my fingers. "So close."
The truth is, I'm way too anxious to eat, but I don't want to hurt his feelings so I cut a small bite.
Frankie has noise-canceling headphones on over his wild, uncombed hair that's sticking up in a million directions. He's hunched over his board game while he shovels forkfuls of syrupy waffles into his mouth.
My dad reaches over the counter and pulls Frankie's headphones off his ears long enough to remind him to "Chew!"
I peer over to study Frankie's latest creation. It looks like he's redrawing the Forest of Relativity again. He's been working on his theoretical physics board game for almost six months now. It's called What's the Matter? and he must have tried to explain the rules to me countless times but I still have no idea how to play. The best I can tell, it's like Chutes and Ladders except with wormholes and hadron colliders.
Frankie is not a normal eleven-year-old child.
He catches me watching him and yanks his headphones off, turning the board around so I can see his latest work. He's an incredible artist. He gets that from my dad. "What do you think?" he asks eagerly.
I give him a thumbs-up and pop the minuscule bite of waffle into my mouth.
"Now when you land on a proton space, you don't have to get a Nucleus card to bypass the Bridge of Dark Matter. You can just cut through the Forest!"
"Oh, thank God," I tell him while chewing. "I always get stuck on the Bridge of Dark Matter."
He rolls his eyes. "That's because you never remember to use your Gravity Eraser card."
"I've had that card?"
"Duh. Everyone starts the game with one."
I slap my forehead. "Now you tell me."
Frankie will probably never have to worry about getting into a good college. I'm sure MIT will recruit him by the time he's fourteen.
I, on the other hand, have to work doubly hard for everything.
"Dad," I say, sliding my interview crib sheet across the counter. "Quiz me."
Dad is eating his waffles standing up, like always. He sets his plate down and picks up the page. He clears his throat and pulls his face into a serious expression, putting on the pretense of a snooty professor. "Ms. Rhodes," he begins in an obnoxiously stuffy accent. "Thank you for your interest in Columbia University's Undergraduate Journalism Program."
I stifle a giggle. Frankie looks up from the Forest of Relativity, obviously not wanting to miss this farce.
"My first question for you today is," Dad goes on, "what is your biggest regret in life?"
I take a breath. I know this one. I've studied this particular question the most. You see, I did a bunch of research online and gathered all of the popular questions asked in college admission interviews. This one appeared the most.
"My biggest regret," I begin my scripted answer, "is probably working too hard and not taking enough time for myself. You see, I'm the editor in chief of my high school newspaper, the Southwest Star, and ever since I took over in my freshman year, we've managed to win the National Spartan Press Award three years in a row. And although I'm very proud of this accomplishment, success comes at a price and I'm afraid I don't have a lot of free time to do fun things. But I hear they have this great new invention called television now."
I let out my rehearsed chuckle at that last part and then exhale in relief. That might have been my best delivery yet. Let's hope I can do it exactly the same way tomorrow afternoon at the alum's house.
Dad nods his head approvingly. Even Frankie looks impressed.
"Not bad," Dad praises, and then remembers his stuffy-professor persona and clears his throat again. "I mean, Well said, Ms. Rhodes. Well said, indeed."
I beam. "I read that you should always take a question that is meant to focus on a negative and spin it so it focuses on a positive. And you should always put a little humor into each answer."
Dad slides the paper back to me and transforms into himself again. "You're going to blow this up. There's no way you won't get in."
"You know," Frankie begins knowledgeably, "in some other parallel universe, you already got in."
"How is that possible?" I ask. "If I haven't even had the interview yet."
Frankie sets his fork down with a clank and I'm immediately sorry I asked. I can tell by the look on his face, he's about to get all timey-wimey technical with us. I guess with our family's DNA, it was too much to ask for a normal little brother who watches cartoons and puts posters of famous jocks on his wall. No, Frankie's walls are covered with pictures of Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku.
I worry about the kid. I do. How is he ever going to survive middle school next year in one piece?
"You see," he begins, with the same flair my father had when pretending to be a snooty professor. The only difference is, Frankie's isn't an act. "The multiverse theory states that all possible outcomes — infinite potentials — already exist in other dimensions. So when you scheduled the interview for tomorrow, you unknowingly created a parallel universe. Which means that another you could have — and did — schedule the interview for last week. So that version of you has already had your interview and has already been accepted into Columbia."
I stare at him in bewilderment. "That doesn't make any sense. Early decision letters for Columbia don't arrive until December 15. So even if my interview was last week, I still wouldn't know if I got in for another month."
Frankie's face falls. "Oh." He bites his lip in deep concentration as he thinks this over. Dad and I share a smile as I take a sip of orange juice.
"What else do you need to do before tonight?" I ask Dad.
He unplugs the waffle iron and starts wiping it down. "Not much. Just some last-minute framing. Oh, and if you have time, there's one more photo downstairs that needs a caption. Mind taking a stab at it?"
"Not at all," I say, licking my fork. "I'll take a look before I go."
Excerpted from "In Some Other Life"
Copyright © 2017 Jessica Brody Entertainment, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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