The Inside of Out

The Inside of Out

by Jenn Marie Thorne


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803740587
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 05/31/2016
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 677,088
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jenn Marie Thorne graduated from NYU-Tisch with a BFA in drama and quickly realized she was having more fun writing plays, short films, and superhero webisodes than actually performing in them. She lives and writes in beautiful Gulfport, Florida, alongside her husband, two sons, and hound dog Molly.

Read an Excerpt

Adam slammed his finger down on one last key and pulled the computer lid shut. I was about to remark that he'd probably caused the screen damage himself with his virtuoso typing style, but then he grinned, and I found myself incapable of doing anything but grinning stupidly back. He had a startling smile, sudden and breathless, like a little kid who's been handed a bunny. His glasses slipped a little, and I had to remind myself that it would be inappropriate to reach across the table and slide them back into place. 
     "Okay, hi," he said.
     "Hi yourself."
     "You sure you don't want anything?"
     "Nah." I hadn't brought a wallet.
     "My treat."
     I spun so fast the booth squeaked. "Actually, Becky, some coconut cream pie and a ginger ale, thanks!"
     The waitress sighed a yes.
     "And I'll take some more . . . um . . . coffee." Adam stared at his empty mug as if unsure of what he'd just consumed. 
     "Is this another school assignment?" I asked. "Am I the follow-up to your award-winning cat boutique exposé?"
     "Something like that."
     Adam fussed with his phone, then slid it away. There was a red dot flashing. Was he already recording? I smoothed my skirt in readiness.
     "My assignment this week was to report on a routine government meeting," he said, his pen tapping against the table in a syncopated rhythm, making him sound like a beat poet. "You had to come back with a story, no matter how boring the context. When I drew 'School Board Meeting,' I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stay awake long enough to find anything worth writing about. But then . . . you showed up, thank you."
     I wasn't sure if that last bit was to me or to Becky, who was filling his mug, because his eyes were locked on mine. Hot glued.
     "You saved the day," he said, setting down the pen. "For me, anyway. I was sitting there mentally outlining a story of the death of high school wood shop, tying it into faltering American exceptionalism and the decline of the working class."
     "Yeah. But then you stood on a chair. And there was my story."
     "Glad I could help." I would have kept staring at those eyes of his—rich brown framed in black—but my pie had arrived, and man it looked good.
     "So. Daisy." Adam knocked back his coffee, then recoiled with a grimace. I handed him my water and he downed it in three sips. He shook his head, recovering. "Wow."
     "The coffee's not good here."
     "I'm realizing that."
     "I was surprised you asked for more."
     He sniffed his cup as if actually considering another sip. "Caffeine's more of a need than a want at this point. And . . ." He tilted the mug to display the branded logo: Moonlight Coffee Shop. "You'd think?"
     I nodded in sympathy. "They should call it the Moonlight Mozzarella Stick Shop. Not that catchy, though."
     It took me a second to realize that this was Adam's laugh—a single "Ha," as if he were imitating the sound of someone laughing. This was a thing with him, then. I had to take another bite to keep from giggling.
     "Are they good here?" he asked, head craned like he was dubious.
     "Um . . . incredible. And I'm picky." I put down my fork and leaned closer. "I can always tell when a mozzarella stick is going to be a disappointment. There's something a little sad and soggy about it. Not quite golden enough. Not enough steam. Or too much, so the inside is runny and bubbling over and the outside is, like, null. These are always—always—perfect."
     The diner was unnaturally silent when I finished my testimonial. I turned to see Becky watching me with wariness bordering on fear.
     Adam looked unfazed.
     "Okay!" he said, picking up his pen and click-click-clicking the end of it. "So you have strong feelings about mozzarella sticks."
     "All fried foods, really." I needed to stop talking, or all of this was going to go in the article.
     "What else can you tell me about yourself? Hopes, dreams, favorite band?"
     He was probably kidding about that last one, but it was the easiest to answer. "Kudzu Giants."
     His face dropped. "You like them?"
     "Uh, yeah, who doesn't?"
     "They're all right. I guess."
     How had I gotten that question wrong?
     "Hopes and dreams, then," Adam went on, pulling out a notepad. "Career goals? College plans?"
     "Hannah and I are going to apply to a bunch of schools in major cities and pick one to go to together . . ."
     Adam looked confused. "Hannah?"
     "My best friend."
     He'd started writing, so I added, "Hannah von Linden. Lowercase v. She came out a few weeks ago, actually. If you wanted to interview her too, I could set that up?"
     His mouth twitched. "That's okay. You were saying?"
     "Right. So we'll room together in LA or London or New York . . . maybe San Francisco, although I've heard it's weirdly cold there. And then, after graduation, I'll probably try out a bunch of different professions to see which one calls to me. Right now, I'm thinking I'll start with architecture."
     Adam opened his mouth but no reply came out.
     "As an intern," I clarified. "You need an advanced degree to actually design buildings, I assume. So I'll just learn the ropes at some firm and then maybe try out zoology? Or costume design. I'll have to see what I'm really passionate about."
     "Makes . . . sense?" He cleared his throat. "Obviously gay rights is an issue you feel passionately about."
     Adam's voice had abruptly deepened, like he'd prepared that segue in advance. Was this his Reporter Voice? Like Batman Growl?
     "Yes," I answered, setting down my fork, and damn if my voice didn't just get deeper too. "But it's about more than gay rights. It's about the basics of how we treat each other. If you're telling a group of students that they don't have the same rights as all the other students, then you're creating an unlevel playing field, and that's not what America is all about!"
     That was loud. Adam pretended not to notice.
     "Was this something you decided to tackle on your own?"
     "No, I'm speaking out on behalf of my school's LGBTQIA Alliance. We're pretty active—"
     "How many members?" he interrupted.
     "Six," I calculated. Then added Hannah. "Seven." And Natalie, I supposed. Blah. "Eight."
     He blinked, pen hovering.
     "Eight," I repeated firmly. "And we've got a lot of supportive friends and family behind us." I didn't want it to sound like we were powerless. "Like hundreds. Of supporters."
     "But the idea? To fight the rule . . . ?"
     I smiled. "Yeah, that was me."
     Scribble scribble. This was fun.
     "Can you share any details about your plans for the alternative homecoming event?"
     "As a matter of fact, I can!" I stole a bite of pie, a mini-celebration of what I was about to reveal. "We've found a local nonprofit that's eager to help. They've got a venue for us to use, free of cost." I leaned in to whisper. "It's hush-hush at this point. As you saw at that meeting, there are a lot of people in the community who would love to shut us down, so I really shouldn't talk specifics."
     "Got it." Adam's eyes narrowed playfully. "So what's the name of the nonprofit?"
     Mine narrowed back. "Nice try."
     He laughed again, that single, sudden, "Ha!"
     I giggled involuntarily, then took a bite of pie to stop. What was going on with me? If this was the start of a crush, it needed to stop, posthaste. Whatever Adam's type was, it certainly wasn't an average-except-for-her-odd-hair high school junior of middling intelligence, no discernible talents, and questionable charm. I could see him going for a goth feminist-theory goddess. Or a world-weary singer in a smoky, run-down lounge. Or even a perky blond cheerleader—although he'd hate himself a little.
     Adam flipped his notepad over and started filling another page. His fingers were ink-stained and restless. I pictured pressing my own hands against them so they would settle down.
     Adam stopped scribbling and peered up at me. "I want to ask . . . and please forgive me if I'm prying."
     My heart thudded for no particular reason. I nodded for him to ask.
     "How long have you been out of the closet?"
     Oh, right. That. "I'm straight."
     "You're . . ." His eyebrows shot up. Then he sank against the banquette, scratching his cheek. "Okay."
     "Is that bad?" I forced a smile.
     He took his sweet time answering.
     "Huh." He squinted at his notepad as if deciphering a code on it.
     "If you want, you can put that I'm asexual." I peered around to see what he was writing, but he angled the page away from me. "It's part of the QUILTBAG spectrum?"
     He blinked in confusion. "So you're really straight?"
     "Last I checked."
     "Do you have a boyfriend?"
     "Not for the article. I'm just . . . yeah. Curious."
     For somebody curious, he sure was avoiding eye contact.
     "Why?" I leaned over the table, putting on a fake-sultry drawl. "You interested?"
     He went beet red. Jeez, was it that embarrassing a prospect?
     "Yeah, no, I, uh." He swiped his hand through his hair. "I was just wondering how he felt about all of this."
     "My boyfriend doesn't feel anything."
     Adam started to write that down, his shoulders sinking.
     I squinted at him. "Because he doesn't exist."
     Adam's lips parted like he was about to say something else. He didn't. A few seconds passed, and I realized if I didn't do something, we could be stuck in this freeze frame forever, so I glanced at my wrist as if there were a watch there.
     "Is this enough for an article?" I grabbed my bag, pulled out a random receipt, and scribbled on the back of it. "I actually have to run. But here's my email. And my number. If you need me, for whatever reason."
     I felt instantly stupid for offering it. Should I have waited till he asked?
     "Thanks." He rose when I did. "You off to a planning meeting?"
     "No," I said. "Well, sort of. A football game. I need to . . . um . . . research homecoming conventions? I've managed to avoid going to any school sporting events my entire life, so, yeah."
     "Research." His mouth teetered on the edge of a smile.

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