Kat Greene lives in New York City and attends fifth grade in the very progressive Village Humanity School. At the moment she has three major problems—dealing with her boy-crazy best friend, partnering with the overzealous Sam in the class production of Harriet the Spy, and coping with her mother's preoccupation with cleanliness, a symptom of her worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder.
With nowhere to turn, Kat reaches out to the free-spirited psychologist, Olympia, at her new-age private school in New York’s Greenwich Village. Olympia encourages Kat to be honest. Eventually, Kat realizes that sometimes asking for help is the best way to clean up life’s messes.
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Sometimes it’s the little things that get to me. Like an electric toothbrush. Mom’s got one in her hand—but it’s not for her teeth. She’s using it on the kitchen floor. As if this is normal. As if this makes sense. I want to sneak back to my room and start the day over, but I can’t. Mom’s already spotted me. “Look, Kit-Kat,” she says, holding up the toothbrush. “The bristles are perfect for cleaning in between the floor tiles. I got the tip from Good Housekeeping. Cool, huh?”
That’s not the word I’d use.
I grab a blueberry muffin and plunk down at the breakfast bar.
“Wait!” Mom springs up like a jack-in-the box. “Let me get you a plate.”
“That’s okay,” I say, hopping off my stool. “I’ll get it.”
“Don’t worry,” she says. “Just sit.”
I could argue, but what’s the point? The less I touch, the less Mom has to frantically clean up after me. I go back to my spot at the breakfast bar.
I watch as Mom yanks off her rubber gloves, places them on the counter, and goes over to the sink. She starts washing her hands, scrubbing each finger and around both thumbs, careful not to miss a spot. “I thought you were getting me a plate,” I remind her.
“I am,” Mom says, reaching for more soap. “Give me a minute.”
A minute? When Mom washes her hands, it could take all day. This is her new routine. She says it “calms” her, but I’m not so sure. She doesn’t look calm to me.
I pick a stray berry from my muffin and pop it in my mouth. “I did really well on my French quiz,” I say, hoping Mom will get the hint and stop washing. “Better than Sam Teitelbaum, even. Want to see it?”
Mom dries her hands on a clean dish towel and reaches into the cabinet for a plate. “I’ll look at it later, Kat-Kat,” she says, “after you leave for school. I promise.”
This is a promise Mom won’t keep. She’ll be cleaning every inch of our apartment—and washing her hands, over and over again—as soon as I’m gone. I finish my muffin and go to my room to get dressed.
When I’m satisfied with my outfit, I grab my jacket from the hall closet, pick up my backpack, and yell good-bye to Mom. Then I go for my sneakers. They’re where I left them yesterday: outside the front door, next to the welcome mat. (Shoes aren’t allowed inside the apartment.) But something is different about them. It’s the shoelaces. Mom has swapped my neon-pink laces for boring old white ones. I pick up my sneakers and stomp back inside.
Mom is back at the sink, polishing the faucet with Dad’s old Foo Fighters T-shirt. It was his favorite, with grass stains on the back and a giant hole under the armpit. I hold up my sneakers. “What did you do with my neon laces? They’re gone!”
Mom turns around. “They were grubby, honey. They needed to be replaced.”
“No, they didn’t. I bought them last week with Halle. She got matching ones. Remember?”
“Of course I remember,” Mom says, tugging at the red bandana covering her honey-blond hair. “But that doesn’t change the fact that your laces were dirty. Now, take those sneakers outside. You’ll be late for school.”
I ignore her. “Where are my shoelaces?”
Mom goes back to polishing the faucet.
“Okay, okay . . .”
She puts down Dad’s T-shirt and peels off her rubber gloves. I watch as she reaches into a drawer underneath the counter and roots around for my laces. When she puts them in my hand, my heart does an elevator drop. My neon-pink laces are now the soft pink color of a girl’s baby blanket. “What did you do?” I say, staring at the faded laces. “Bleach them?”
Mom bites her lip. “I’m sorry, Kit-Kat. I wasn’t thinking.”
“But you ruined them!”
“I’ll buy you new ones.”
“That’s not the point.”
Mom throws up her hands. “I said I was sorry, and I mean it. What else do you want me to do?”
I know exactly what Mom can do. I race to my room, snatch my French quiz off my desk, and sprint back to the kitchen. I hold the quiz under Mom’s nose. “You said you’d look at this. Now, look!”
Mom’s eyes dart back to the sink.
Without warning, hot, angry tears spring to my eyes, but I quickly squeeze them away. I won’t let Mom get to me. Not this time. I hold the quiz high over my head and let go, watching the paper spiral through the air and land at Mom’s bare feet.
She looks more surprised than mad. “What was that for?”
For caring more about a clean kitchen than my French quiz!
For ruining my new shoelaces with bleach.
For scrubbing the floor with an electric toothbrush.
But I don’t say any of this. Instead, I bend down to pick up my quiz, crumple it in a tight little ball, and toss it in the trash. I leave for school without saying good-bye.
In the elevator I take out my phone to text Halle. She’ll be expecting me on the corner of Thirteenth Street and Seventh Avenue for our daily walk to school. But after my fight with Mom, I’m in no mood for company. I text her.
Don’t wait. I headed in early. See u at school!
My words are cheerier than I feel.