WHEN YOU'VE LOST WHAT MATTERS MOST,
HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR WAY BACK HOME?
Joy Fonseca is dreading her 13th birthday, dreading being reminded again about her best friend Lukas's senseless death on this day, one year ago and dreading the fact he may have heard what she accidentally blurted to him the night before. Or maybe she's more worried he didn't hear.
Either way, she's decided: she's going to finally open the first clue to their annual birthday scavenger hunt Lukas left for her the morning he died, hoping the rest of the clues are still out there. If they are, they might lead Joy to whatever last words Lukas wrote, and toward understanding how to grab onto the future that is meant to be hers.
"I truly loved it! Baskin and Polisner seamlessly unfold one touching relationship after another in this gorgeous story about everlasting friendship. This tender tale is indelibly etched on my heart." Leslie Connor, author of the National Book Award finalist The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
"Polisner and Baskin's brief tale of two quite distant friends magically manages to bridge an uncrossable gap. Seven Clues to Home is both a charming mystery and a real meditation on the complexities of the young heart in love." Tony Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of Firegirl and The Great Jeff
"I read this whole book with a lump in my throat. A perfect gem." Wendy Mass, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Bob
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time, my birthday was fun.
Emphasis on once.
Judging by the sun, I’d guess it’s probably not that early. I can hear Isabel and Davy giggling outside my door, waiting for me to wake up. They’re more excited about my birthday than I am. I have dreaded my birthday for 364 days, and now it’s here.
“Okay, okay,” I call out. “You can come in.”
It doesn’t take but half a second for my bedroom door to fling open and two little bodies to fly through the air and land on my bed.
“Happy birthday, Jolie,” Isabel sings. “Davy says happy birthday, too.”
My little brother doesn’t say much. He’s four and a half, and he should be talking by now. Mom worries. It’s not like I think he has a delay or anything; it’s more like he’s hiding something. I guess everyone has their secrets.
I know I do.
I still talk to you.
That’s my secret.
“I’m still sleeping, you guys,” I say. I pull the covers over my head, but I can hear the anticipation in their rapid breathing and the squeaky mouse sounds that Isabel makes when she’s happy-nervous. I swear I can even hear Davy tightening his belly muscles in preparation for some major tickling.
And for a moment I forget what day this is. I forget how hard this last year has been. This entire last year I dragged myself up and over whatever it was I had to do. The pain got smaller, but the grief did not.
From under my blankets I start counting, very slowly. It’s the slow counting that gets them every time. “One. Two. Three.” I can feel two trembling lumps, bony knees and skinny elbows, trying to hold me down.
“Four. Five . . . I hope you don’t say the magic word,” I call out.
Whatever word comes out of either of their mouths, that will be the magic word. All I have to do is wait. And count. They can’t help themselves. One of them will say something.
“Six. Seven,” I go on.
Isabel tries to clamp her hand over her mouth. I can hear her muffled giggles. We all know she’s going to be the one to blurt something out. It’s always Isabel.
“Nooo!” she screams.
“That’s it!” I yank the covers off my head, and the static electricity makes my hair stick all over my face. I can’t see, but I manage to grab hold of my little sister and start tickling her mercilessly.
“That’s the magic word,” I roar. “The magic word is no. And you said it.”
Davy tries to slide away. He makes a half-hearted run for the door, but I reach out and capture him, too. Now I’ve got them both. We are all screams, shouts, and laughing, a tugging, twisting, twelve-limbed octopus creature. Eventually, all the covers slip off the bed like a waterfall, and we end up on the floor in a big pile of arms and legs, and blankets, sheets, and pillows.
And then, just before my mom walks in to see what all the commotion is, with a big smile on her face, and before my older sister, Natalia, steps up behind her and says, “Happy birthday,” for a split second, I completely forget what day it is.
I forget that a year ago today is the day after the last day I talked to my best friend, Lukas, for the last time.
And sometimes, in rare happy moments like this one, I can even forget that there, in my desk, in the bottom drawer, is the envelope you left for me, the first clue, on my birthday one year ago today.