Teddi Alder is just trying to figure out her life.
When she joins SUMMERTEENS, a library writing group, she’s only looking to keep herself busy, not go digging around in her subconscious. But as she writes, disturbing memories of her lost childhood friend Corey bubble to the surface, and Teddi begins to question everything: her friendship with her BFF Willa, how much her mom really knows, and even her own memories. Teddi fears she’s losing her grip on reality—as evidenced by that mysterious ghost-girl who emerges from the park pool one night, the one who won’t leave Teddi alone. To top it all off, she finds herself juggling two guys with potential, a quirky new boy named Joy and her handsome barista crush Aidan, who has some issues of his own.
As the summer unfolds, Teddi is determined to get to the bottom of everything—her feelings, the mysterious ghost-girl, and the memories of Corey that refuse to be ignored.
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The Precious Dreadful
I don’t know if this is even my story to tell. Corey and I swore all those years ago we wouldn’t ever. But it’s starting to come out on its own now in all sorts of ways. So I’m kind of like, “F promises.”
Besides, it’s not as if we’re friends anymore. I haven’t even seen him since that summer we were seven.
And what’s a childhood vow worth at practically sixteen? Nothing? Everything?
My brain does this warp-speed thing, especially when I think about telling. But I should start at the start. I’m Teddi Alder. Ordinary.
Everything about me is halfway. Five six, I’m stalled between jockey-little and catwalk-tall. Sophomore year ended yesterday, so I’m officially midway through the obstacle course called high school. I’m also half a virgin. So.
About the story, I could say it’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery, some creature lurk-deep in the swamp of memory, but that’s a little too Stephen King. A little too Friday the 13th, and it’s not quite like that. Nope, not a horror story, not exactly. But horrible enough.
Shoot! My alarm’s about to bleat. Not sure why I even bother to set the freaking thing anymore. I haven’t slept a full night since I was about seven.
I slide through the curtains strung up in the doorway of my room. Polyester panels offer zero privacy, but at least they don’t creak the way a door would. Silence helps me slip undetected through my mother’s room to downstairs. No real challenge there. The woman slumbers deep as a dead thing.
I head to the bathroom for a quick whiz and parts-washing, drag a brush through my hair, swipe on deodorant, veto mascara. Snagging clothes draped on the bathroom door hook, I dress.
In the kitchen, Binks eyes me from stoveside. Tail beating half speed, he noses his squeak bone, gears up for a morning howl. Administering a preemptive ear scratch, I select a container from the cabinet. “Why can’t you eat the dry stuff?” Peeling back the lid, I hold my breath, dump moist chunkage into his bowl, and say, “Filet mignon, my ass.”
As he goes to town, I grab an apple from the basket on the counter. Bruised and a little mealy, but it’ll do.
One hand on the broad, metal handle of the front door, I pick with my fingernail for the millionth time at the PLEASE COME AGAIN! sticker, a vestige—like the heavy glass door itself—of our apartment’s former life as Mike’s Mart, the Alder family store. Leaning back against the door, satchel shoulder-slung, I scan the kitchen, extra shabby in the slatted morning light.
“I hate it here.”
Parting the ancient venetians, I peer across the driveway. The pool won’t open for hours, so all’s quiet; just Jimmy the Park Guy, spearing chip bags and assorted crap from the grass.
I step out, relishing the blast-furnace pulse on my face. Summer vacation has begun.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato. Teddi’s summer vacation begins with a few options. She decides to spend time with Summerteens, the local library’s summer writing workshop. Before the workshop kicks off, Teddi has had a spooky encounter, a kiss and an argument with her single, downtrodden mother. I fell in love with The Precious Dreadful, Teddi’s personality and boldness and the variety of characters it holds in its pages! The more I read, the deeper the story took me. Teddi has pretty much raised herself since her mother, Brenda, tends to be drunk and partying with her friends instead of being available and sober for her daughter. Brenda is also keeping secrets from Teddi and has tried to, in her own dysfunctional way, protect her role as a mother. As Teddi’s summer rolls on, relationships become more complicated and drama-ridden and her subconscious is forcing her to remember a traumatic and horrible part of her childhood. The Precious Dreadful bends genres: mystery, horror, supernatural, romance and young adult realistic fiction; this book also pulls at your heartstrings through intense tragedy, awareness of bad choices and the bond of friendship and kindness of others and it’s well deserving of 5 stars! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
THE PRECIOUS DREADFUL could be classified as a paranormal suspense, mystery, social problem novel, and Romance. The mystery pulled me through the most. (This may be a bias on my part. I love mysteries the most of all these genres. It's also hard to find YA mysteries.) The flawed characters are dimensional and larger-than-life. Teddi Alder's story grabbed me from the first page. In my opinion, THE PRECIOUS DREADFUL is a YA-crossover, as adult readers will enjoy it too. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was the perfect blend of dark humor, finding our place within ourselves and the universe around us, and just amazing writing. I cannot wait to see what else this author has in store!