PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!
Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I'm sorry, I'm feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.
Here's the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I'm fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can't remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.
But see, that's why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That's right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else decide which book I read for English. And whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!
Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can't choose or have chosen for youlike who you fall in love with. And now everything's more screwed up than ever.
But don't take my word for it. Read My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody and decide for yourself. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll scream in frustration. Or maybe that's just me. After all, it's my life.
|Product dimensions:||5.58(w) x 8.14(h) x 0.86(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started "self-publishing" her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.
Brody graduated from Smith College in 2001 with a double major in Economics and French and a minor in Japanese. She went to work for MGM Studios as Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development; in 2005 she quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.
Brody is the author of the young adult novel The Karma Club and two novels for adultsThe Fidelity Files and Love Under Cover. Jessica's books are published in more than ten countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, Brazil, China, Portugal, and Taiwan. She now works full time as a writer and producer and splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
My Life Undecided
By Jessica Brody
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2011 Jessica Brody
All rights reserved.
Charred to a Crisp
The police station smells like burnt toast. As if someone popped a piece of sourdough in the toaster oven and forgot about it. Or maybe the flecks of smoky odor are just lingering in my nostrils from the fire. Rebellious stowaways clinging to the inside of my respiratory system like an annoying guest who refuses to leave long after the party is over.
And trust me, the party is way over.
I don't know how much the firefighters were able to salvage of the house. When I was taken away in the police car, the flames were still relentlessly devouring the place.
It feels like I've been in this stuffy little room forever. I think it's the break room because there's a table in the corner with a pot of coffee resting on a rusty electric warmer and every five minutes some cop comes in, pours himself a Styrofoam cupful, and gives me one of those "Boy, did you screw up" raises of his eyebrows.
There's absolutely nothing to do in here. Nothing to read and nothing to watch except the clock on the wall. And trust me, that thing has got to be broken. I swear it only ticks every five seconds.
There's a fat, balding man who keeps popping his head in to tell me that he's "working everything out," and that I "shouldn't be worried." He's supposedly a social worker who's been assigned to my case. And all I can think is Great, now I'm a case.
I keep waiting for them to bring Shayne in. At least then I'd have someone to talk to. She was right next to me when the cops showed up ... and the fire trucks, and the ambulances, and the news vans. Her last words to me before I was handcuffed and taken away were "Don't worry, Brooks, we're in this together."
But for the last six hours, there doesn't seem to be anyone in this but me. Oh, and Phil, the way-too-happy-to-be-here-so-early-in-the-morning "social worker." I figure they're probably holding Shayne in another room. They always do that in the movies. Separate the criminals to see which one will talk first. Well, if they think I'm going to rat out my best friend, they've got another think coming.
I mean, the whole thing was initially her idea. But I'm the one who said yes. I'm the one who got us into the house. I'm the one who turned on the stove ...
Fortunately, it wasn't my house. It wasn't anyone's house, in fact. That was the brilliance of it all. Or at least, that was supposed to be the brilliance of it all. It's funny how the word "brilliance" can take on a whole new meaning when you're sitting in a police station at seven in the morning.
Also a bitch.
Because according to Phil, the fact that it wasn't my house may not necessarily be a good thing. It's all so confusing and overwhelming. Everyone's been throwing around words like "trespassing," "arson," "jail time," and "underage drinking," and I have no idea what any of it means. Well, apart from the underage drinking. That one, unfortunately, I'm pretty familiar with. Especially now that the spiked punch is starting to wear off and the hangover is settling in. Believe me, it's not making this situation any better. I really wish I liked the taste of coffee right about now. Even that stale pot on the table over there is starting to look better than this tornado of a headache that's brewing above my temples. I try to sleep by resting my head down on the table, but the hard surface of the wood only exacerbates the throbbing. Would it kill them to bring me a Tylenol? Or a tranquilizer?
The door squeaks open again a little after ten a.m. and just when I think I'm about to get another disappointing glare from one of Colorado's finest, the uniformed officer with the name "Banks" engraved into his badge looks down at the clipboard in his hands, then up at me, and says, "Brooklyn Pierce?"
I nod, my pounding head still cradled in my hands. "Yes?"
I pray he's going to tell me that I'm going home. Or that Shayne is in the other room waiting to see me. Or that the get-out-of-jail-free fairy has come to wave her magic wand and spring me from this place.
But he doesn't say any of these things. Instead his forehead crumples and he studies my face with this confounded expression, as if he's trying to remember the capital of some obscure Central American country. "There's no chance that you're Baby Brooklyn, is there? That little girl who fell down the mine shaft all those years ago?"
Fantastic, I think with a groan. Just what I need right now. A reputation for making headlines.
"Yes, that was me."
Officer Banks raises his eyebrows, seemingly impressed at my celebrity status. "Wow. No kidding? So what was it like down there? Were you scared?"
"I don't remember," I reply through gritted teeth. "I was two."
He seems to be oblivious to my displeased tone because he just keeps on talking. "How did you end up down there again? Chased a rabbit or something?"
"Lizard," I mumble.
"I bet you regret that decision, huh?" Banks remarks with a chuckle that grates on my nerves. "Not the smartest thing in the world, was it?"
"Is there something you wanted to tell me?" I nod hopefully toward his clipboard.
"Oh, right," he replies, snapping himself back into the moment. "Good news. Looks like you're going home."
I jump up from my chair and rush toward him, feeling like I want to wrap my arms around his portly middle and squeeze him. Obviously, I restrain myself.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I exclaim. It's about freaking time they let me out of this hellhole.
I think about my soft, comfy bed, my fluffy white pillow, my clean, cotton pajamas. Fresh underwear. Toothpaste and mouth-wash. All the things you take for granted until you're stuck in a place like this for six hours straight.
But my relief is short-lived. Because the next words out of his mouth are the scariest ones I've heard all night. Scarier than "arson," scarier than "trespassing," even scarier than "jail time."
Officer Banks drops his clipboard down against his thigh and offers me a sympathetic wink. "Your parents are here."CHAPTER 2
Friends Don't Let Friends Make Fajitas
It's not like I didn't consider the parental factor in this equation. I've just purposely been choosing not to think about it. Preferring to live in a world (if only imaginary) where parents simply don't exist.
They have a word for that, you know? It's called "denial."
"They were able to get on an early flight out of Boston," the officer tells me as he opens the door and leads me through a series of hallways.
Boston. It all started with Boston, Massachusetts. Or as my perfect, prudent, would-never-burn-a-house-down older sister would be quick to correct, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Home of Harvard University. A school for people who make good decisions in their lives. Decisions that don't end in police stations that smell like overcooked Pop-Tarts.
In other words, a school for people like Isabelle Pierce.
And at the beginning of every October there's a weekend especially dedicated to the proud parents of these outstanding, would-never-burn-a-house-down kinds of people. It's called "Family Weekend." But it may just as well have been called "Parents' Weekend," because as an official member of the "family," I don't remember receiving an invitation. Not that I would have gone. Not that I would have even thought about going. Especially when I learned that "Family Weekend" is also called "Brooklyn Gets the Entire House to Herself Weekend." Although, I imagine that over time, both titles will be thrown out completely and replaced with just "The Weekend Brooklyn Burned Down a Model Home."
A day we can all eventually look back on and share a good laugh about.
I blame Izzy. If she hadn't gotten into such a prestigious, stuck-up school to begin with, my parents never would have left for the weekend and I never would have even been given the opportunity to say yes to Shayne's (at one time) genius idea. If my sister had just been a huge screwup like me, she'd probably be living at home, attending some lame-ass community college in downtown Denver, and none of this would have happened. I'd be asleep in my bed right now, soaking up the last few blessed hours of the weekend, instead of here, walking the last few steps to my execution.
"YOU BURNED DOWN MY MODEL HOME?!"
My mother clearly sees me before I see her and she doesn't waste any time.
"How could you do something like that?" she roars before I have even stepped both feet into the lobby.
"Camille." My father places a tender hand on her shoulder. "We promised we'd handle this rationally."
"That was at 35,000 feet," my mom growls back. "This is the lobby of the Parker Police Department. Rationality is completely out of the question right now."
"It was an accident, I swear," I try, but my dad shushes me with a look that says "If you want to live, you'll be quiet."
"An accident?" my mom thunders. "An accident! And I suppose sneaking into my office, stealing my keys, and throwing a raver in the model home of my biggest development project to date was an accident, too?!"
I'm pretty sure my mom means "rager," but I'm smart enough to refrain from correcting her. Probably the first wise decision I've made in a while.
Officer Banks clears his throat and we turn to look at him. Surprisingly, he doesn't appear to be all that uncomfortable standing in the middle of our family spat. I suppose he sees this kind of thing constantly. After all, it's not like the police in this town have anything better to do than break up teenage "ravers." Parker, Colorado, isn't exactly crime-infested. Last year they caught a college student selling weed out of the back of his mom's SUV and people are still talking about what a scandal it was. Unfortunately that doesn't bode well for my plan to forget this whole thing ever happened.
"Why don't we discuss this when we get home," my dad suggests, giving the officer an apologetic nod.
Without another word, my mom wheels around and storms out the door. I can almost see the smoke trailing behind her.
* * *
"We'll have to call Bob," my dad says as he steers the car onto Highway 83. The bright mid-morning sun blinds me after I've been cooped up in that police station all night. My mom is staring vacantly out the passenger-side window. Actually, her expression only looks vacant. I know her well enough to know that emptiness is the last thing on her mind. It's that look she gets when she feels like someone has betrayed her. A disconcerting mix of anger, sadness, and "what did I do to deserve this?" It's enough to make you vomit up guilt.
"Who's Bob?" I have the courage to ask. It's the first thing I've said since we left the station. My mom, surprisingly enough, still hasn't uttered a word.
"Our family lawyer," my dad responds.
"Oh," I mumble feebly, feeling dejected and emotionally drained. But what I really want to ask is "We have a family lawyer?" Funny how I never knew that before today. I guess it's because we never really needed him until now. Or I suppose I should say ... until me.
"Hopefully he can fight the arson charge," my dad thinks aloud. "The trespassing is going to be a tough one to deny, though. You were the only one with access to the key to the model. And the underage drinking charge is a wash. Your blood alcohol level was off the chart when they brought you in. We're lucky no one got hurt at this thing. We could have been slapped with a serious lawsuit on top of everything else."
There are a million emotions I'm feeling right now, but "lucky" certainly isn't one of them.
My dad navigates the labyrinth of streets in our subdivision until we're parked in our garage. Before the engine is even turned off, my mom unbuckles her seat belt, opens the door, and stomps into the house. Sometimes I think her silence is worse than her yelling. And right about now, I almost wish she'd go back to screaming at me. At least then I'd know what she's thinking.
My dad, on the other hand, is composed. Collected. His usual balanced self. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him lose his cool in my lifetime. People are always saying that my mom and dad complement each other perfectly. Like a balloon tied to a rock. I never really understood what they meant until now.
"What does arson mean?" I ask my dad, clicking off my seat belt but staying firmly planted in the seat. Despite my previous impatience to get home, right now I'm in no rush to go inside.
My dad takes a deep breath. "It means they think you set the fire on purpose."
I can feel the panic rise up in my throat. "But I didn't!" I screech. "I swear I didn't!"
My dad glances at me in the rearview mirror. Despite the disappointment that's evident on his face, there are small traces of compassion there, too. "I know, Brooks," he says, an unsettling edge to his usually warm tone. "And that's why we need a lawyer."
Technically, it was me who started the fire. But I'm not lying when I say it was an accident. I may be decisionally challenged but I'm no pyro. I just thought the party would be that much better if we had fajitas. Granted, I wasn't exactly in my right mind when I came to this conclusion. And I think I've proved once and for all that drinking spiked punch and cooking fajitas simply don't mix. Especially when the "fresh vegetables" you use to cook them turn out to be made of plastic, like so many things found in a model home. Needless to say, the "green peppers" and "tomatoes" started to burn pretty quickly and the elegant fabric napkins that I used to remove the charred props from the pan turned out to be more flammable than I'd anticipated. The next thing I knew, a hundred drunk teenagers were running around the house screaming "Fire!" and then I ended up in handcuffs.
It wasn't supposed to be like that, though.
It was supposed to be the party of the century ... of the millennium. An event that would guarantee me a place on the map. A spot in the Parker High School hall of fame. At least that's what Shayne had promised me.
Oh God, Shayne. I hope she's not still at the police station. I'm sure her parents would have come to get her hours ago. Wouldn't they?
I trudge into the house, snatch the phone from the cradle in the kitchen, and carry it upstairs with me. I haven't yet informed my parents that I'll be needing a new cell phone because mine is buried under a pile of charred rubble in the middle of an uninhabited multimillion-dollar subdivision. Somehow, it didn't seem like the right moment to start making demands.
I close my bedroom door and dial Shayne's number. It rings twice and then goes to voice mail so I leave a hurried and rather frantic message.
"Shayne," I breathe into the phone, "I didn't see you at the police station. I hope you're okay. I just wanted to let you know that I'm fine. Well, for the most part. I'm home now. But it looks like I have to go to court on Monday morning. Lame, right? I'm so sorry. This whole thing totally sucks. I just hope you're not in too much trouble. Anyway, call me and we can talk about everything. Oh, and I lost my cell phone in the fire so you'll have to call me at home. Okay. Bye."
I hang up and toss the phone onto my desk.
Please let her be okay.
I feel wretched. About everything. About Shayne. About my looming court date tomorrow morning. About the model home — or what used to be a model home. Landing this new subdivision project was supposed to be my mother's big break as a real estate developer. It was supposed to be her company's "golden ticket" to glory.
I guess I'm not the only person who fell off the map tonight.
When I finally collapse onto my bed, I'm tormented by the thoughts and images swirling around in my head. Fire and regret. Sirens and remorse. Uniformed police officers and their disapproving stares. As exhausted as I am, sleep is virtually impossible. And as heavy as my eyelids feel, they stay open for the rest of the morning.
My guilt keeps me awake.CHAPTER 3
Shayne says ponytails are lazy. You can wear them to the gym and you can wear them when you're lounging around your house, but if you show up at school with your hair stuffed in a rubber band all it says to the world is "I was too tired to try this morning."
She's big on appearances. Perceptions are key. Your representation to society dictates what people think of you. And given that everyone thinks the world of Shayne, it's hard not to take notes when she dishes out her valuable nuggets of advice. I mean, if there were ever a representation of perfection and poise, it would be Shayne.
I don't want to get out of bed on Monday morning and face the music, but I can hear Shayne's voice in my head, reminding me that there are no days off in the world of perception. No sick days. No allotted vacation. Keeping up appearances is a full-time job. Because when you're fortunate enough to be welcomed into Shayne's exclusive company, people look at you differently. Or I guess I should say they look at you constantly. For as long as we've been friends, I can't remember ever not having an audience. Shayne is like a local celebrity. People take notice of everything she does. And when you're standing right next to her, they take notice of you, too.
Excerpted from My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody. Copyright © 2011 Jessica Brody. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Charred to a Crisp,
Friends Don't Let Friends Make Fajitas,
The Queen of Charades,
Servicing the Community,
Vive la Democracy!,
To Make Matters Worse,
Buried Beneath the Rubble,
By the Dashboard Lights,
Text Messages and Crabs,
Same Old Brand-New Me,
Every Dog Has His Day,
Dancing in the Dark,
Brooklyn in Wonderland,
Blog Error in Your Favor,
Where There's Smoke ...,
Under the Radar,
Dished and Dissed,
Back on Top,
The Toast of Harvard,
The Price of Perfection,
The Other Side of Moody,
Missing in Action,
The Puppet Show,
From the Ground Up,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hilarious, memorable, and pitch perfect, Jessica has yet another winner with My Life Undecided, her newest YA novel! My Life Undecided starts the same day Brooklyn Pierce ends up in jail. For Brooklyn, this is not a big surprise, as she has always been a bit decisionally challenged when it comes to her life. From her "Baby Brooklyn" days, to the three times she has been rushed to the hospital after bad choices, Brooklyn has always ended up in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. However, this time changes everything, because not only does she have to participate in community service, but also at school she's suddenly a nobody, which makes her think there's only one way she can get her life back: start a blog in which her readers make her choices for her. Therefore, from her after school actives to whom she dates everything is now decided with a yes or no poll. Though can every decision be made this way? In addition, what happens when everything takes a spin for the crazy side once again? Only time and more pages can tell in this fast-paced adventure sure to charm even the most reluctant of readers. Brooklyn Pierce is one of best kinds of characters, because not only is she sweet and likable but she is also flawed, which makes her all the more relatable, in my opinion. I loved the focus on her bad decision making especially because what reader hasn't made a bad decision (or decisions) before? Better yet, I loved how Jessica tied this into Brooklyn's coming of age. I also enjoyed the supporting characters such as Brian, the nerdy yet adorable debate team boy, as well as Hunter, the good at heart popular boy, because both played such an important role in Brooklyn's story. The premise of this was also delightful, and one I had not seen much of before. I really enjoyed the addition of being able to read Brooklyn's blog as well as seeing how it always managed to switch and twist everything around. However, one of my favorite parts of the story had to be Brooklyn's community service, because not only did it introduce a great secondary plot point, but it also played a big role in shaping who Brooklyn became at the end. Lastly, Ms. Brody yet again proves what a great storyteller she is with My Life Undecided. Her writing was great- it moved in a swift pace and perfectly introduced key characters and plot points. Furthermore, I love the comedy that always comes with Jessica's books as well, because no matter how serious it gets, there is always a funny scene to lighten up the mood, and what reader does not what that? Contemporary fiction at its best, My Life Undecided is a book that should be high on your summer reading list; not only for its memorable and relatable characters but also for all the laughter it is sure to spark within you. Grade: A+
This book is truly amazing. Read it. Read it now.
This book was really good. Brooklyn had a funny yet sarcastic yet deeply heartwarming voice. I think anyone debating to read this book most definitely should. Its a great voice and teens anywhere can really relate to this book. A+
If you like drama, this is the book for you!
I agree. In almost every book and movie there is always the popular guy that falls in love with her and then she finds out that the guy who really loves her is her geek guy friend. WAY predictable. But, i love the book!
Wow it was pretty osom. One thing i kinda didnt like was that in the book the love problem is like in every single book the boy u thot u loved is not who u love and the boy who was there all along is really the one. It was predictable but i still enjoyed it and read it under a day!
The beginning did not draw me in that much, but I kept on reading and I could not put the book down. It was an amazing book and I would reccomend it to everyone
This book is awesome! It puts you in the life of Brooklyn Pierce, a girl who cant make her own choices. I thought this book was great and I would definitely recommend it. Please read it!
Im 16 year old girl and i usualy enjoy books like thiss but i found it really hard to focus on it and feel the storyline. Took me a week to finish and i could usualy read a 400+ page book in 2 days.
Trouble follows Brooklyn. It might have something to do with the horrible decisions she makes. After her arrest, her parents pick her up from jail and she has plenty of time to start thinking of how to make her life better. Because she's grounded for eternity. To make matters worse, her BFF pretends the last five years didn't exist. Brooklyn, once a girl in the spotlight, becomes a wallflower. She starts a blog where her readers will make her decisions for her. Should she try out for the rugby team? Should she join the debate club? Should she continue to eat lunch in the library or try the cafeteria? She refuses to make a decision before polling her blog readers. But can she live with the choices her readers make? MY LIFE UNDECIDED is a super-cute read. Brooklyn constantly makes the wrong decisions, but it ultimately leads her to discovering her true self. I loved the blend of technology with modern day. A fun book!
Jessica Brody knows how to bring the fun! I was giggling like crazy throughout this entire book. My Life Undecided was just overall a fun read! Although it was humorous and hit the spot, it was also heart breaking. It just captures everything about a real teen's life and the essence of decision making. Whether the decisions are just everyday ones or huge ones, it doesn't matter. They all play a roll in how things play out and this seemed to be the overall concept here. Brody has a crisp writing style and it plays along with the story so well that I actually got lost in Brooklyn's world! Brooklyn is quite the fun character. She's in style and up to date on the latest trends. She's popular and has a best girlfriend who has all the same interests...boys and fashion. That's all until she makes a very bad decision to throw an awesome party in her mom's model home, which goes awry. Brooklyn ends up getting into major trouble. She up and decides her decisions will be managed by her blog followers. I can't tell you how many times the narration from Brooklyn made me laugh...out loud. By myself. She was full of awesome and spunk. She wasn't afraid to go through with the decisions her blog followers made. Along the way she meets cute boys, Hunter and Brian. Hunter I wasn't really a fan of. He was too bad bad boy for me, as in he didn't make a good bad boy, haha! On the other hand, Brian, was the dorky-friend-type guy I fell for from the start. My Life Undecided is about learning from mistakes and taking all things into consideration. There's consequences and rewards, it comes with the territory of growing up. I loved the overall message here and it was written in such a fun way, there's no way you'd be bored! Romance plays a small role and (even though I love me some romance) I liked it that way. I liked that the focus was on Brooklyn's adventures and mishaps. I suggest this book to anyone who wants a fantastically funny read! I hope you all can get your paws on a copy. Review based on ARC copy