The Poison Apples

The Poison Apples

by Lily Archer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466883628
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 11 - 14 Years

About the Author

Lily Archer lives in New York City, where she reads the dictionary for fun and secretly hankers for a pet penguin. She has known many stepmothers; some kind, others wicked.

Lily Archer lives in New York City, where she reads the dictionary for fun and secretly hankers for a pet penguin. She has known many stepmothers; some kind, others wicked. She is the author of The Poison Apples.

Read an Excerpt

The Poison Apples

By Lily Archer

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2007 Lily Archer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8362-8


Alice Bingley-Beckerman

R. seemed okay at first. She invited me and Dad over for dinner at her apartment on the Upper West Side, and we spent most of the evening just standing around and watching her cook. R. was mesmerizing: she swept around the kitchen in her silk robe and purple eye shadow, stirring bubbling pots of marinara sauce and bending down every few seconds to kiss Godot, her Yorkshire terrier. I could tell Dad was charmed by her. She was beautiful and funny and she kept singing lines from different musicals. Dad would say, "The Pajama Game, right?" and she'd shriek, "YES! EXACTLY!" and then he'd sip his beer in this pleased-with-himself way. And it was nice she'd invited me. I guess it was like their first date, so it was a pretty cool move for her to say, "Why don't you bring your daughter?" It made her seem easygoing, sweet, kid-loving. Not at all like a crazy, jealous psychopath, right?


Dad and I were so innocent and unsuspecting. Probably because it was the first date Dad had been on since Mom died. We had no idea that R. Klausenhook — Tony Award–winning actress and darling of the New York theater scene — would turn out to be a bona fide Evil Person. Actually I think Dad still has no idea that R. is a bona fide Evil Person.

Hence the tragedy of my story.

The whole never-ending suckfest (that's what my friend Reena calls it — you'll hear about her later) started two years before, when I was thirteen and my mom died. She had cancer. It was pretty much the worst year of my life. Afterward I had to deal with all my classmates saying: "Oh my God, I'm so sorry. My great-grandmother died last year and it was really hard for me. I totally know what you're going through." I'd want to scream, Your great-grandmother was ninety-five and living in a nursing home and you saw her three times a year, how could you possibly know what I'm going throughmy MOTHER died, you idiot, but instead I'd smile and nod. Because I make a point of not picking fights with people. I'm Alice. I'm the quiet girl in the funky clothes. Everyone likes me. Kind of. I'm everyone's third-best friend. This is what the entire school wrote in my junior high yearbook: "It was great knowing you! You are the sweetest!" Or: "You seem really really sweet! Have a great summer!" Or: "Thanks for being so sweet! You go, girl!" Eventually I realized that "sweet" meant no one knew me, and that (so far) I hadn't done anything to tick off anybody.

I did have it pretty good for my first thirteen years. I was an only child and I lived in this awesome brownstone in Brooklyn with my mom and dad. They were both writers. Pretty famous writers, actually. My dad is Nelson Bingley and my mom is (was) Susan Beckerman. Maybe you've heard of them. They both wrote novels that got a lot of attention before I was born. Once I tried to read one of my mother's books, but it was way too weird. The first sentence had like three words in it that I didn't even know existed. But having two writers as my parents was really nice. They were at home a lot, typing away in their studies, and they always had these bizarro friends staying with us, like famous painters and musicians and movie directors. I still have this real glass eye that an Italian sculptor gave me as a birthday present. Other kids would come over to my house, shake their heads enviously, and say things like: "Your parents are the coolest." Yup, I was that kid. I had the cool parents.

But then one day I just had one cool parent.

It was rough for a while. Our house felt really big and empty, and there was a lot of me and Dad sitting silently in our dark living room every night and watching stupid TV programs that Mom would have hated. It also took me a whole year to stop myself from thinking, Wait till Mom hears this, whenever something interesting or cool happened. But then the day I stopped thinking, Wait till Mom hears this, was pretty horrible, too. Because there's forgetting your mother is dead, and then there's realizing that you're used to your mother being dead. The second feeling is actually worse.

Things went on like this for about a year and a half, until Dad wrote a play. It was his first play, and it was about a woman dying of cancer. Big surprise, right? But everyone loved it. Dad's agent called in the middle of the night and said she couldn't finish reading it because she was crying so hard. Three weeks later a Broadway theater picked it up and R. Klausenhook — the best actress in the city, the actress who guaranteed sold-out houses and Tony Awards — wanted to star in it. Six weeks after that, it opened and The New York Times gave it a rave review, and Dad was smiling in a way he hadn't smiled since, well, since Mom, and three weeks after that, R. Klausenhook invited us over to her apartment for dinner. And I was happy for Dad. I truly was. I thought that maybe if he stopped being so sad all the time, I would stop being so sad all the time.

Dumb theory.

Anyway, R. really laid on the charm that first night. And the woman was an incredible cook. She made endive salad and garlic-roasted hen and baked eggs with tomato and basil sauce and this amazing raspberry tart sprinkled with fudge. Dad and I totally pigged out.

"Mmrf," Dad said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "This is the best meal I've had in I don't know how long. Alice and I usually just microwave frozen fish sticks for dinner."

Now this is true. Dad and I did eat a lot of fish sticks. But somehow Dad's saying this to R. Klausenhook made me feel just a wee bit defensive. We were trying, you know? We were doing okay for ourselves.

"Oh no," said R. "That's awful. Food is unbelievably important to me. I believe that every meal should be its own sensual experience."

I didn't really know what she was talking about, but Dad listened intently and nodded his head like three times in a row.

R. reached across the table and placed her bejeweled fingers over mine. "What about you, Alice?" she asked. "What are your passions?"

"Um ...," I said. I looked to Dad for help. He just smiled blankly at me.

"You know," said R. "My passions are acting and food. And sex, of course. What are yours?"

I almost choked on my mouthful of baked eggs. "Uh ..."

Dad jumped in. "Alice really loves snowboarding. Don't you, Alice?"

I nodded, relieved. "Yeah. Sure. I like snowboarding."

The truth was, I'd snowboarded about twice in my entire life. But okay. You could call it my passion. Whatever. I would have liked sex to be one of my passions, but I hadn't been given the opportunity to have it yet. I'd made out once with Keaton Church (this jerko senior) at a party on the Lower East Side during my freshman year, but he was just using me to make his ex-girlfriend jealous (they got back together the next day). That was the range of my experience. The only person who seemed interested in me was my second-cousin Joey Wasserman. Joey lived in Philadelphia and had a beard and smoked like six joints a day and tried to mack on me every Thanksgiving.

As Reena would say, my life was a real suckfest. I was fifteen, my mom had been dead for almost two years, and I'd never even had a boyfriend.

But things were about to get a lot worse.

Dad and I took a cab home that night after dinner at R.'s place, and he couldn't stop smiling. We didn't say anything for a while as we cruised down Madison Avenue, past all those fancy stores with their glowing storefronts. I breathed on the cab window and then absentmindedly drew a little R in the fogged-up glass.

"What does R. stand for?" I asked.

"Rachel," Dad said, this moony grin still plastered across his face.

"Then why doesn't she just call herself Rachel?"

He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head. "I really like this woman, Alice. In addition to being wonderfully talented, she's very sweet and giving. She's not crazy like most of the actresses I meet."

I nodded. There was an awkward pause. Dad cleared his throat.

"Did you like her?" he asked.

Looking back on that evening, it probably wouldn't have made any difference if I'd said, "No, Dad, I didn't." Things probably would have turned out the same. But I still think about it a lot. Because back then I just wanted Dad to be happy, and not miserable like he'd been since Mom died, and I wanted to be a good daughter, and R. seemed nice enough, even if she was a little ... eccentric.

So I looked Dad in the eye and said: "She was fantastic."

And, to tell you the truth, he looked so thrilled and relieved that I felt like it would have been cruel to say anything else.

Before long the two of them were Officially Dating. It started with Dad coming home late a couple of times a week with red wine on his breath, humming songs from different musicals. Then one Saturday morning I stumbled out of bed, walked into our kitchen, and there was R. in a purple satin bathrobe, flipping pancakes on the stove.

"Hello, darling!" she sang out, and gave me a perfumed kiss on the cheek.

Let me remind you that the last woman who'd stood at our kitchen stove flipping pancakes was my mother, Susan Beckerman. And Susan Beckerman is — was — not the type of woman who wore satin bathrobes and called people "darling." Mom liked sweatpants and her nickname for me was "Crinkle." Her nickname for Dad was "Gherkin."

Dad walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table in his pajamas, smiling bashfully. All of a sudden it seemed like the three of us were a family. And the truth was, I didn't know R. at all. I just knew that her passions were food, acting, and sex, and that she played a cancer patient in my father's Broadway show. Also she wore a lot of perfume in the morning. But what was I going to do? Things were out of my control.

"Those pancakes smell great," I said, and sat down at the table. Dad reached over and squeezed my hand.

* * *

A couple of months went by. It was the spring of my freshman year. I wanted a boyfriend, and I didn't get one, and I wanted a best friend, and I didn't get one (I only had kind-of best friends, girls who considered me their second- or third-best friend after their real best friend), and I wasn't chosen to sing a solo in our school's April Chorale Concert. Dad and R. kept seeing more of each other, and I was invited along less and less. Sometimes R. would come over and cook us dinner, but more often I'd come home from school and there'd be a note stuck to the microwave saying: "Went to movie with R. Back before 11." Sometimes I heard them giggling in Dad's bedroom at night. Once I even heard bedsprings squeak, at which point I shoved my fingers in my ears, covered my head with five different pillows, and hummed the national anthem. Still, Dad was happy, and I was glad he was happy.

Then came the Announcement.

One afternoon I came home from school and there was a bottle of champagne on the coffee table in the living room. R. danced out of the kitchen and embraced me even more enthusiastically than usual.

"HELLO MY DARLING," she bellowed.

"Hey, R.," I said. "What's the champagne for?"

She widened her eyes, her spiky eyelashes almost reaching her eyebrows, and put a finger to her lips. "Wait until your father comes in," she whispered.

A second later, Dad came in from the kitchen. "Hey, baby," he said.

"Hi," I said. Then I realized he was talking to R.

"Hey, baby," she murmured, and they put their arms around each other and kissed. I didn't even bother to look away. In the beginning I would turn around when they kissed in an attempt to seem respectful (also it was gross to watch), but eventually I realized that they didn't even care. Or notice. Finally Dad broke away from R.'s embrace.

"Hi, Alice," he said. "We have a very exciting announcement."

I tried to smile. This little voice inside my head piped up: What if they get married? but I quickly told it to shut up, that was absurd, they'd only been dating for three months.

Dad and R. sat down on the couch and held hands. "Alice," said Dad, "R. and I are getting married."

I blinked. I swallowed. I pinched the inside of my palm to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

"What do you think?" asked R. "Are you happy?"

That was an interesting question. Am. I. Happy? I didn't even know how to begin to form an answer. No, R., I'm not happy. My mom is dead, and you're sleeping with my father and filling the house with your perfume, and the longer you're around the less interested you seem in me, and you've only been around three months.

"You've only been around three months!" I blurted out.

The smiles on their faces kind of wobbled and disappeared. I could tell they were shocked. Why? Because I'm Alice. I'd been nothing but sweet and nice. I'd been nothing but supportive and wonderful. But no. Not anymore. Marriage? After three months? That was crazy. Mom and Dad had dated for six years before they got married.

"Alice," said Dad, "try to sound at least a little excited."

"I'm not excited," I said. "I'm infuriated and irate." (I'd been studying vocabulary words for the PSATs.)

"Why?" asked R. "It's very hurtful of you to say that, Alice. Your father and I are in love."

"I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU!" I yelled.

Then I burst into tears and ran upstairs.

Okay, I admit it. Not the most mature response. But I'd reached the end of my rope. Where had being nice gotten me? I threw myself onto my bed, sobbed into my pillow, and waited for Dad to come upstairs to talk to me. I would reason with him. I would say: "Dad, I'm not saying break up with her, I'm just saying give it a little more time. What's the rush to get married?" We'd hug and he'd stroke my hair.

I kept crying into my pillow. A few minutes went by. I cried a little louder. More time went by. I wailed. I beat the wall with my fists. I looked at my clock. I tiptoed down the staircase and peeked into the living room.

They were gone. Their coats were missing from the foyer. I couldn't believe it. They hadn't even left a note.

I felt pretty bad for myself that afternoon.

But I didn't even know that things were about to get much, much worse.

Have you ever had a nightmare where someone in your life like turns on you? When I was really little, I had these recurring dreams about my mom and dad turning into evil ogres who wanted to eat me. Whenever I woke up I'd feel this flood of relief, like: Thank God. It was all a dream. My parents are actually not evil ogres who want to eat me.

After I failed to be Ultra-Supportive and Excited about Dad and R.'s upcoming wedding, R. basically turned into an evil ogre who wanted to eat me.

And I never got to wake up.

It's hard to describe. But the woman hated me. Hated me. You could see it in her eyes. Maybe she'd hated me the whole time, but in that case my little tantrum gave her permission to hate me openly. I tried to apologize the next day over breakfast ("Um? You guys? Sorry for freaking out yesterday. ..."), but she totally ignored me and started babbling at Dad about wedding plans. Dad thanked me with his eyes, but the two of them just talked about chocolate versus lemon wedding cakes until they left the table.

I thought maybe R. would only be mad at me for a couple of days, but instead it only seemed to get worse. She'd walk right by me in the living room without saying hello. She refused to make eye contact at meals. Dad would try to initiate conversation between us, but it never really worked. Sometimes it just made things even more horrible.

"I've been thinking about what kind of bridesmaid dress you'd like to wear at the wedding, Alice," Dad said over dinner one night, smiling at me across the table.

Before I could even answer, R. shot Dad a death glare. "Alice isn't going to be a bridesmaid, Nelson," she said sharply.

"She isn't?" Dad asked.

"No. Ruth and Pammy are my bridesmaids. Remember? I want Alice to be the flower girl."

I looked up in shock. "Wait, what? Isn't the flower girl supposed to be, like, a child?" The second after I said it I regretted it.

"You are a child," R. said, looking directly at me for the first time in, like, a week. But this time it was an uncomfortable, creepy, piercing stare.

"I'm fifteen."

"That doesn't sound very old to me. And it's not like you've exhibited the most mature behavior in the world, have you?" She smiled at me triumphantly over her wineglass.

I opened my mouth. I looked to Dad for help. He was staring down at his plate. Coward.

"I just don't know why I can't be a bridesmaid, too," I finally said.

"Because my sister and my best friend are going to be my bridesmaids," R. said calmly, "and I need a flower girl."

I closed my eyes. It wasn't so much the bridesmaid thing as the fact that R. now obviously hated my guts and was totally happy to let me know just how much she hated my guts in whatever way possible. So sitting there at the table, silently, with my eyes closed, I did something I'd never really done before. I prayed.

To whom or what, I'm not sure. My mom? God? I prayed that something would save me from this situation. I prayed that this wasn't actually my life. I prayed the same prayer as that girl at the beginning of Forrest Gump (okay, I didn't have a lot of prayer references to draw from. My parents were never that religious): Let me be a bird and fly far, far away from here.


Excerpted from The Poison Apples by Lily Archer. Copyright © 2007 Lily Archer. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Part One,
One: Alice Bingley-Beckerman,
Two: Reena Paruchuri,
Three: Molly Miller,
Four: Alice,
Five: Reena,
Six: Molly,
Seven: Alice,
Eight: Reena,
Nine: Molly,
Ten: Alice,
Eleven: Reena,
Twelve: Molly,
Thirteen: Alice,
Part Two,
One: Reena,
Two: Molly,
Three: Alice,
Four: Reena,
Five: Molly,
Six: Alice,
Seven: Reena,
Eight: Molly,

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Poison Apples 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
lenoreva on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Raise your hand if you have an evil stepmother. Alice, Reena and Molly all do. For various reasons, each girl finds herself at a posh boarding school in rural Massachusetts and each tries her best to pretend she doesn¿t come from a messed-up, broken family. When they find each other, they discover they no longer have to suffer alone or in silence, and the Poison Apples are born.The book is narrated by all three teens in alternating chapters and divided roughly into three sections: the introduction of the characters and their stepmothers, arrival at boarding school, and the revenge plot over Thanksgiving break.I loved the first section and Alice¿s situation was pretty familiar. Her mother died of cancer and then she spent a couple of years moping around with her father. When her father meets someone new, she sincerely wants him to be happy. But when they announce they are getting married, Alice is shell-shocked. Stepmother-to-be R. convinces Alice¿s father to sell his house and move into their own place ¿ and Alice isn¿t welcome. Instead, her father breaks the news that she¿s to be sent to boarding school:¿Alice,¿ Dad said suddenly. ¿You¿re not going to live with me and R. It doesn¿t make sense.¿I stared into Dad¿s eyes. Dad, I tried to silently implore him. I don¿t want to freak out right now. I don¿t want to give R. another reason to hate me. I don¿t want you to think I¿m a bad daughter. Just. Please. Don¿t. Make. Me. Go.The weird thing was, I could tell Dad was also trying to tell me something with his eyes. He was silently begging me to be okay with this. To not make him guilty. To not make him feel like he was marrying a psychopath who wanted him to send his daughter away¿ (p. 17-18)Reena and Molly¿s evil stepmothers come courtesy of divorce: Reena¿s story is outrageously hilarious (it involves yoga and a penguin) and Molly¿s is unfair and sad (it involves a lot of unpaid babysitting and a mental institution).The boarding school section is peppered with fun wicked stepmother anecdotes and appearances but drags a bit when it veers off to explore other topics such as Reena¿s crush on the English teacher.And the end. Well, the end may surprise you! I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a stepmother or is a stepmother. Or anyone who just likes reading about stepmothers for that matter.
nawapak on LibraryThing 10 months ago
When I saw this book and read the blurb I thought, ¿hmmm this should be exciting.¿ I thought it was going to be an action packed sort of evil step monster V.S. ¿once¿ innocent daughters but I guess I asked for too much.The storyline was about the three main characters: Reena, Alice and Molly who all have ¿evil¿ stepmothers and end up coming to a boarding school in Massachusetts where they plan a way to take revenge on their stepmother but along the way find themselves a secret admirer.I like the fact that this book has cliff hangers along the way to keep us readers flicking the page, but I think the plot could be stronger as we have been reading up to a point and waiting for an explosion but instead of bursting it just gives us a small poof. I would recommend this book to teenager around 12-14 who want to take a break from anything serious and settling down with some light weighted book for a period.
quirkylibrarian on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Light take on fractured fairy tale. Not very well written but has some general appeal.
Mrs.Frizzle on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I really liked this book its actually one of my favorites. I liked how the author used more than one main character. My favorite character in this book Is Reena. This book talks about how the 3 main characters all have evil stepmothers.
TeenBookReviews on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A good book. Archer creates believable characters with real flaws and problems. Reena, Alice and Molly come from totally different backgrounds, yet somehow all end up at the same boarding school. Each character grows and matures in a believable and often humorous fashion. This novel is definitely character driven rather than plot driven, so don¿t look for lots of action. All in all, I would definitely recommend this novel to readers who enjoy quirky, fun characters.
chibimajo on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Three different girls sent to a boarding school to get away from their stepmothers form a club to try to get rid of their evil stepmothers.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alice, Reena, and Molly meet at an elite boarding school in Massachusetts. Though on the surface they don't seem to have anything in common, they eventually discover that they all have evil stepmothers. And when I say evil, I mean Evil with a capital E. The girls bond over their unfortunate family circumstances and form a club called the Poison Apples with the aim to get revenge on their stepmothers.The story is told through the alternating voices of each girl and one of the things I loved best about this novel is how Archer manages to give each girl a totally different voice. And these girls are very different. I liked each of them for different reasons and I was rooting for them to become friends. Boarding school girl cattiness, a dreamy English teacher, a bit of adolescent romance... and you've got a fun chick-lit book perfect for light reading over the winter break.
lunanshee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book. Archer creates believable characters with real flaws and problems. Reena, Alice and Molly come from totally different backgrounds, yet somehow all end up at the same boarding school. Each character grows and matures in a believable and often humorous fashion. This novel is definitely character driven rather than plot driven, so don¿t look for lots of action. All in all, I would definitely recommend this novel to readers who enjoy quirky, fun characters.
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UrbanDecay More than 1 year ago
This book is truly unique in its own way! And as an mixed East Indian..for once I felt as if I could relate to one of the characters..even in the slightest bit! Truly healing for those hurting and going through family troubles and makes you feel grateful for everything you do have going for you in your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the poison apples was a book about 3 girls who end up going to the same boarding school. when they finally meet they bond over their bad luck. i couldnt wait to see what happend next, i couldnt put it down. and yes i recomend this book to teenagers around the ages of 11-17.
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EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
This book was a page turner, I could not wait to read what would happen next. If you have ever had to deal with one or both of your parents re-marrying this book put a hilarious spin to it. The young ladies had me LOL! Their families were a riot. Sometimes the "selfishness" of the parents made me angry. And what we "see" is not always what is there, as you "see" as you read the stories of The Poison Apples. Enjoy! This is a great read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a really good book. i very much enjoyed seeing these three girls bond over their bad luck. it was such a cute book. i recommend it a lot of people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Poison Apples is an AMAZING book!! I just got it for Christmas and I already finished it. If you read this and love it/loved it try reading The Mother-Daughter Book Club..... They are pretty similar :'
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was the best book i have read in forever!!! i was skeptical at first but then i loved it when was finished.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got this for Christmas, and I'm on like the 4th chapter. So far, I would recomend it highly. It's very good so far, but you're just going to have to read it to find out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book I read it a million times! It's extremely funny AND believable. I recommend it to anyone who loves to read!