Thirteen-year-old Mouse is pretty sure her life is totally over. Now that she's been kicked out of ballet school, she has to go on her new school's ski trip basically knowing no one. Well, except too-cool-for-school Keira and crazy Connie-May.
Meanwhile, Jack's life is just about to begin. He's on the way to the slopes with his school too, and all he can think about is how to successfully get his first kiss.
With new friends by her side, Mouse has more fun skiing and building igloos than she expected. And when Jack catches Mouse's eye at the ski resort, he's smitten. All's well--that is, until mega pop star Roland arrives on the scene and sets his sights on Mouse, too! A week in the snow is about to get complicated. . . .
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||10 - 13 Years|
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“You can’t stay in there forever.”
I rolled my eyes dramatically even though she couldn’t see me and climbed into the tub fully clothed. I lay down and crossed my arms like a snoozing vampire. And then a bottle of Herbal Essences fell on my head.
I did realize that living in the bathroom was not a long-term life plan. It was a last-chance act of desperation. At some point I was going to have to either jump out the window or just unlock the door and skulk back out. Not exactly Braveheart material. I wonder if anyone has ever locked themselves in a bathroom and come out victorious?
I let my head tilt back against the cold tiles. I’d never been in a bathtub fully dressed before. If I hadn’t been having a mental breakdown, it might have been quite relaxing. I turned the tap on with my Converse and a trickle of water came out. I picked up my bright blue Christmas bath bomb and cupped it in my hands under the water. It started to fizz and come alive.
Mum’s voice came gently through the door. “If you really don’t want to go, you don’t have to.” She made it sound like she was the one whose life was over.
“Do you really mean it?” I thought it would sound defiant but it came out jagged and gulpy.
“You’re thirteen, Mouse,” she said. “I can’t exactly pick you up and drag you there.”
An image popped into my head of her hauling me down the road by my ponytail, politely waving to the neighbors. Mums and random pointless comments are like dads and bad jokes. Just why?
“But I do think that going on this trip is the best thing to do,” she added. “In a week you’ll know all the stories and the inside jokes and the gossip, and maybe it won’t feel so strange being back there.”
Back there. Her saying it made my stomach churn.
“I don’t have any friends there anymore. Everyone will be with their groups. I’ll be all alone. You don’t understand.”
I heard Mum sigh and sit down. “I know Connie isn’t your best friend anymore, but she’ll look after you.”
“Everyone thinks Connie is weird. That’ll make it worse.”
And then I felt horrid. I’ve known Connie-May forever. And maybe she’s not weird anymore. A lot can change in two years. A lot can change in five minutes, if you think about it.
“Well, I told you to call Lauren,” Mum sighed. Hearing Lauren’s name out loud made me panic.
I hid the disintegrating bath bomb inside Dad’s nearly empty tub of shaving cream; then I got out and started pacing the tiny bathroom. I was going stir-crazy and I’d only been in here ten minutes. Inside the bathroom cupboard there was just an ancient bottle of lice lotion, some eardrops, Mum’s toiletry bag and the boot piece from Monopoly.
I unzipped the bag and sat on the toilet seat, opening a heavy gold pot of “bronze sculpting cream.” As if cream is the right tool for sculpting; Michelangelo didn’t go around carving the statue of David with Reddi Wip.
I scooped a big dollop of it onto my fingers and rubbed it into my cheeks.
Next, I took out a medical-looking bottle of “Forever Young youth elixir capsules,” squashed one of them open and rubbed the cooking-oil-type liquid onto my nose.
I sprayed myself with the Chanel perfume that Dad got her and put “Monaco Dreams highlighter” over where I’d put the cream.
“I love you,” I heard Mum say softly. “I can’t bear how hard this is for you. But you are stronger than you think you are, Mouse.”
I knew I had to go on the ski trip. It wasn’t her fault.
I unbolted the door.
Mum was sitting on the floor, legs outstretched in front of her, drinking tea out of her dance mom mug. She saw me looking at it and cupped her hands to hide the words. I collapsed down next to her and she handed me a cold-looking toast sandwich.
“Weird or not, Connie will be here in five minutes,” she said, putting her arm around me.
I opened the sandwich and scooped the jam off with my finger. We both sat in silence. Ahead of us near the top of the stairs was a picture of me in a pale-blue leotard, my grand jeté perfect. When I got in, they put that picture of me in the paper with the headline local girl beats 1200 to place at ballet school. We both just stared at it.
The doorbell rang.
Mum kissed me on the head. “Mouse, you look like a Smurf. You’d better wash your face.”
I walked back into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. “Smurf” was an understatement. A compliment, even. Looking back at me was a huge, blue moon-face with two golden-brown stripes down either side. I looked like a cartoon raccoon that had gone wild with Maybelline. I turned the faucet on full and started to scrub, but it just seemed to wipe the mixture around more.
A little round freckly face and a halo of tight brown curls poked around the bathroom door. Connie. She flung her arms around my waist and started screaming, jumping up and down with such force that she carried me with her.
“Mouse, your face is so colorful!” she squealed. “I love it. Can I do it too or is it your thing?”
“It was an accident.” I couldn’t fake being excited. But if she noticed, she didn’t let on.
“The best things are accidents,” she said. “Like me.” And then she picked up my hands and put one on each of her cheeks so she had a blue handprint on either side.
She started singing and dancing wildly around the bathroom: “Everybody look left / Everybody look right / Can’t you see I’m in the spotlight / Oh I just can’t wait to be skiing.” She climbed onto the edge of the bath and jumped off. “Oh, I just can’t wait to be skiing.”
I scrubbed my cheeks with nail polish remover to try to get some of the blue off. It sort of worked, but I still had faint Smurf-raccoon outlines. I unfurled my hair from its tight bun and pulled it forward to try to hide them.
Connie stopped dancing for a second. “Oh my God, Mouse. Your hair’s gotten so long. You could basically walk around naked and wear it as a cloak.”
I’ve been growing my hair since I was three. It’s the one thing everyone notices about me. There’s nothing else to notice, really. I have blue-gray eyes, a ski-jump nose and a little sprinkle of freckles on each cheek. Not as many as Connie, but they are there. I’m tall for ballet school, but average otherwise. Connie looked the same as when I’d last seen her, but different. She had grown really tall. It looked a bit ridiculous. Like she wasn’t supposed to be that tall, somehow. Like she was on stilts.
She stood next to me and draped some of my hair over her head.
I didn’t really talk in the car, just let Connie ramble on to Mum about avalanches and what French people eat for dinner (“Not snails, usually. I Googled it. Phew.”). But as we got closer to school, I felt a knot in my stomach.
“Are you nervous, Mouse?” Connie said out of nowhere.
I was so nervous I couldn’t speak. And then I saw her. Across the road with Scarlett and Melody. Her hair was in fishtail braids that must have taken ages. We spent a whole week once learning how to do them. She was wearing tiny denim shorts over thick gray tights, and a plaid shirt. She looked the same, just more polished somehow. Like a perfectly colored picture, nothing outside the lines. She wasn’t even wearing a coat.
From a distance you could tell that she was still the queen bee. She’s not the prettiest--Scarlett is by far--and she’s not the sportiest or the smartest; she just is that person. The person the other ones follow. The person they want to be. There was a part of me that wanted to be her too. Even though she hated me.
“Ooh, look, there’s Lauren Bradley,” said Mum brightly, and I felt my insides turn to stone.
Excerpted from "Never Evers"
Copyright © 2018 Lucy Ivison.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
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