The new JUNIOR LIFEGUARDS series is wholesome summer fun for young YA readers!
Join the brave and strong girls of the Junior Lifeguards on their summery adventures in Cape Cod, where ice cream, mini-golf, and sand-between-your-toes combine with crushes and life skills for fun beachfront escapades!
Dive right into tryouts with Jenna, Piper, Selena, and Ziggy four diverse girls entering their first season as lifeguards-in-training on Cape Cod’s iconic Atlantic coast. Romance and rivalries abound in this beachside town, where swanky seasonal homeowners and hard-working locals clash and unite in age-old patterns. In this first book of the JUNIOR LIFEGUARDS series, the girls are vying for spots on the summer squad, with ocean legend Bud Slater hand-picking a team of winners. Will they or won’t they make the cut?
About the Author
Elizabeth Doyle Carey is a former book editor and bookseller. She is the author of 33 books for young readers including 15 titles in the Cupcake Diaries series and 4 titles in The Callahan Cousins series. She lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
A Bright Idea
All I ever wanted was to be an Olympic swimmer. Glory, honor, excellence, patriotism: it all appealed to me. I always pictured myself up there on the top step of the podium in my Ralph Lauren-designed team warm-up suit — red, white and blue, of course — waving at the crowd, bowing my head for the gold medal, receiving my flowers, and wiping away a modest tear as the Star Spangled Banner played over the airwaves for all to hear. And the cheering, for me: responsible, reliable, hard-working Jenna Bowers, from Westham, Massachusetts, as I win the world's highest athletic honor.
More than anything, more even than winning though, I love to swim. The relaxation of the pace and rhythm, the feeling of power as I slice through the water. It's hypnotizing and it takes me outside myself for a while, and then brings me back to earth with a post-workout feeling of calm euphoria. It's what I'm good at, and that skill defines me.
But over the years my joy in swimming has been replaced by times and stats and schedules, endless meets and practices, unglamorous travel and early mornings, jockeying for position on my own team and monitoring my standing in my league. If this is all there is, then my Olympic dreams are wavering.
I swim at the Y here in Westham, on Cape Cod, where I've been on the team for the past five years. I'd like to say I'm the star of the team, 'cause I was for a really long time. But about six months ago some new girls joined up and either they were better or I got worse, and now I'm number three, or maybe two on a really good day.
At first, this stunk. I hated being seeded third and watching my coach fall all over these two girls the way she'd once fallen all over me. (I think once my coach realized she wasn't going to be an Olympic swimmer herself, she decided the next best thing would be to "discover" and coach an Olympic swimmer.) It had been fun being the star. But then it started to bother me that when I'd lose, which was rare, everyone would want to pick apart why I'd lost: my coach, my teammates, my parents, even my brothers! They'd say my breathing was off or my flip turn was too open or I'd been slow off the block. I wanted to say to them all: Fine! Then you get in the pool and let's see how you do it!
And when I started losing more (not badly, by the way — just not winning all the time, like usual), there was more criticism and more hard training, and right then the new girls showed up and ... well ... after a while, it was kind of fun watching someone else get ripped to shreds after a bad race, and seeing someone else do twenty extra laps for a change. The heat was off and I felt a lot cooler.
Right about then, maybe a month ago, I saw the first flyer.
It said: "Be a hero! Learn to save lives! Westham Junior Lifeguards tryout info coming soon!" and it gave the web address for the town lifeguarding program so you could learn more.
But, most importantly, it was being tacked up on the bulletin board at the Y by a really handsome high school guy named Luke Slater (not that I actually knew him; I just knew who he was). Physically, he wasn't my type (he was kind of short, and I am tall; he was a little too old for me; and he had white blond hair while I like darker guys) but his big green eyes were friendly, as he called out, "Come on out for tryouts! We're going to post the official date in the next couple of weeks, okay?" And then he grinned at me, so I had to smile back.
"Okay!" I replied, because what else could I say?
I'd heard about kids at school who trained to be Junior Lifeguards; they were always kids I admired but didn't really have time to hang out with because of swimming. When I was younger, we had a babysitter named Molly who did the training every summer and then became an ocean guard. She was so nice and pretty and cool, and on the rare summer weekends when I didn't have a swim meet, I'd head to Lookout Beach for an afternoon where I'd see her at work. She'd sit up high on the lifeguard stand in her red Speedo one-piece and tight ponytail, a whistle around her neck and zinc on her nose, and it was like she was the boss of the beach. She'd tell kids what they were and weren't allowed to do and she'd blow her whistle and everyone would obey her. But she'd always wave at me and ask about swim team and how my brothers were. It was like being friends with a celebrity; I was psyched when people would see her talking to me from way up high on her lifeguard throne.
At the end of her shift, the boy lifeguards would often tease her and throw her in the water, four of them carrying her to the water when her shift was over, everyone laughing and shrieking. It looked like so much fun! Like a movie of what being a teenager should be like. Handsome boys joking around with pretty girls in the sunshine, at the water's edge, and getting paid for it, too! I hadn't seen her much since she'd left for college three years ago, but whenever I thought of lifeguards, I thought of Molly Cruise.
I'd forgotten about Junior Lifeguards though, for a while. Then today, a Monday, everything changed. Today's swim practice at the Y started off like any other: I biked over from school, changed into my suit in the locker room, stashed my stuff, and grabbed my goggles and towel. But on my way out to the pool room, I saw a new flyer — a big poster, really. It said, "Junior Lifeguard Tryouts this Saturday 10:00 AM at the Westham YMCA pool. Visit our website for forms and details! www.juniorguards.com. Daily practices M-F, 1:00-5:00 PM. Weekend tournaments." I felt a little butterfly in my stomach flutter around, but I pushed it away. I had a swim meet up the Cape this weekend, so there was no way I could attend the tryout. Too bad.
In the pool room that day, we had our team meeting on the bleachers, then everyone warmed up and jumped in the water. We worked on our weakest stroke first, and I couldn't stop thinking of the lifeguard tryout as I did the breaststroke up and down the pool. I wondered whether the test would be on certain strokes, or if it would be more about endurance. I'm in really good shape (not to brag), so I knew I could ace an endurance test. If I had to pick a stroke, I'd probably pick butterfly. I bet that would stand out, since most people can't do it.
"Let's go, Bowers! Head out of the clouds, please!" Coach Randall called as she strolled past my lane. How could she tell what I was thinking about? I tried harder for a few laps, my head empty of everything but the rhythm: pull, pull, kick, breathe; pull, pull, kick, breathe; pull, pull, kick, breathe. I usually sing a song in my head to keep my rhythm going, but today I had been distracted, so there was no musical accompaniment. Quickly, I started singing the newest Taylor Swift song in my head and it got me back on track. But then, during a water break, I heard two of the new girls discussing the lifeguard tryouts poster and I got all distracted again.
"It would be hilarious to watch all those kids splashing around in here, wouldn't it?" said one of them.
The other laughed, not unkindly. "Crazy. I've heard a couple have to be saved themselves every year!"
"Amateurs!" the first girl laughed.
They were nice girls but smug, and overly secure in their little swim team world. For some reason it rubbed me the wrong way today. I thought of Molly and those handsome boy lifeguards. There was nothing amateur about them. If anything, they seemed like professionals, almost adults, to me. Being a lifeguard took nerve! If someone was in trouble in the water, you had to go in and save him or her, no matter what! Bad weather, sharks, huge waves ... anything! It was hard core, like the Marines.
Practice was almost over and it was time for a final time trial, all in, best strokes all around.
Coach Randall blew her whistle and we were off! I dove in with hardly a splash, then cut through the water and porpoised as far as I could before surfacing for a stroke and a breath. As I said, butterfly is my best stroke, and I've been working for months to shave a few seconds off my time. Every second counted these days.
My wet hand slapped the concrete end of the pool and Coach Randall was there, as always. She clicked her stopwatch and nodded. "Thirty-two seconds. Not your best, Bowers," and then she moved down the lanes. I could see that the two other girls in my heat had beaten me, the ones who'd been talking about the Junior Lifeguard tryouts.
I sighed heavily and snapped my goggles off my eyes so I could massage the dents they'd left in my skin. Slowly, I hoisted myself up and out to change. As I walked to the locker room, I passed the tryouts poster again and felt the butterflies, though this time there were more of them.
After I showered, changed, pinned up my shoulder-length hair (which used to be blond but is currently light greenish from chlorine), dropped some eyedrops into my dark brown eyes, put on my hoodie, flip flops and a layer of bubblegum lip gloss, I slammed my locker, grabbed my knapsack and went to claim my bike and ride home. But just as I cut across the lobby of the Y, I heard Coach Randall calling me from her office.
I turned and saw her at her desk, waving me in.
"Hey, Coach," I called. I suddenly felt nervous, but I wasn't sure why.
"Jenna, come on in and take a seat."
Uh-oh, I thought. Coach Randall never calls me by my first name.
"Is something wrong?" I asked, lowering myself into the side chair next to the desk in her cramped office. My mouth was dry and my heart was thudding. Could she know that I had been fantasizing about Junior Lifeguards?
Coach Randall looked at me kindly. "You seemed a little distracted in there today. Are you okay?" she asked.
Her kindness caught me off guard. We don't really talk about feelings on swim team.
"Oh ... I ..." I could feel a blush blooming on my cheeks.
"I know things have gotten more competitive around here, but you've always been my star! I just haven't seen your usual effort lately. We have a lot of big meets coming up and I just wanted to make sure your heart is in it and that nothing's bothering you, on swim team or otherwise." She studied me with her head tipped to the side.
I sighed. It was weird but it was like something inside me just broke open. I felt my eyes welling up with tears. Coach Randall reached out and put her hand on mine.
"Oh, Jenna! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to make you cry!" With her other hand, she reached for some Kleenex and handed it to me as I snuffled awkwardly.
"Thanks. I just ... I was thinking ... it's not about swim team. I do enjoy swim team. I just, I thought it might be fun to ... I don't know. This is going to sound really bad ... "
"Go ahead. It's okay," encouraged Coach Randall.
I took a deep breath and dashed the tears from my eyes. I smiled shakily. "I thought it would be fun to try out for Junior Lifeguards. Crazy. I know! I really don't have time for that. It was just a thought. I'm over it already."
Coach Randall smiled gently and sat back in her seat, folding her arms across her chest. "Is this a sudden thought or something that's been on your mind for a while?"
I sighed. "Ever since I saw the first poster. I guess a few weeks. It just looked like fun, you know?"
Coach Randall sighed, too. "I know. It is fun. I did it when I was your age."
"Really?" I asked. I was surprised. It was hard to picture Coach Randall on the beach.
She nodded and swiveled her chair, looking up at the ceiling thoughtfully. "You know, I think a lot about how hard we push you kids these days. Things have become so professional, so competitive. You don't have any free time like we used to when I was your age. It's always on to the next meet, or practice, or test."
I nodded. "I'm used to it, though. I can handle it." I sat up straight. Brilliant, Bowers, I scolded myself. Crying in front of your coach about how swim team is no fun! That's a great way to keep a top spot on the team.
Coach Randall leaned forward again and looked at me carefully. "How about if we make a deal?" she said, squinting.
"What?" I could just imagine where this was heading: extra practices, weight training, more meets ...
"How would you like to take the summer off and train with the Junior Lifeguards instead of the swim team? I'll save your spot for you and you can join back up in the fall. What would you think about that?" She folded her arms again and watched me.
I couldn't help it. A huge smile bloomed on my face. "Wait, really? Are you joking?" I looked around the room. "Am I being punked? Is this a trick?"
Coach Randall laughed. "No. It's not a trick. Think of it as cross training. I think it might renew your interest in swim team if you can get out in the world and see how good your skills are compared to everyone else's. I had the chance to do it when I was a kid, so why shouldn't you?"
"But losing three months of training ... and competition. I'll fall so far behind ..."
"Tell you what. You can come to practice whenever you like, but we'll say at least once a week. That way you can keep a hand in and you won't fall out of touch with what's going on. I just ... I see your interest level wobbling a bit and I'd hate to lose you from the team. You've got a ton of talent and both of us have put a lot of work into your skill development, not to mention your parents and all their time and energy. It would be a shame for all of us if you quit and it would be a waste for you to stay here when you heart's not in it. If you go on a break starting today, I'll just bet you that you'll come back refreshed and raring to go in September. What do you say?"
I couldn't help myself. I laughed and jumped up and hugged Coach Randall. "Thank you so much!" I cried. "This is awesome! I can't wait to tell my parents!"
She laughed, too, and hugged me back. "I'd maybe pose it as a question to them first, if I were you. See what they say and have them give me a call so we can discuss it. I think ... I think it's the right thing to do, Jenna. You'll see."
"You'll make a great lifeguard, kid!" she said.
"I bet you were great at it, too!" I said, generously.
Coach Randall laughed. "Nah. I was terrible. I only wanted to watch the gorgeous guys!"
"Well, sometimes they need saving, too!" I joked.
I stood in her doorway as I was leaving. "Thanks, Coach. This is just ... like a gift. I really appreciate it."
She nodded. "I'm glad we could work something out. Go get 'em!"
I practically skipped to my bike, I was so happy. I couldn't believe how things had turned around in such a short amount of time. I'd gone from a normal day of school and swim team, to suddenly heading into a new adventure, with a summer doing just what I wanted to do! How lucky was I?
All I knew was that I needed to talk to my best friend, Piper, as soon as humanly possible. And I knew just what I needed to talk to her about: Junior Lifeguards. The nervous butterflies flapped wildly around in my stomach as I raced to her farm on my bike. And this time, I didn't push them away. I was getting used to them. They felt kind of good, actually. They'd feel even better if Piper agreed to do Junior Lifeguards with me. But that was going to be a challenge.
Piper's family, the Janssens, and my family, the Bowers, go way back in Westham. Like, generations and generations. Westham and the surrounding area used to be populated by just farmers and fishermen in the olden days, and we always had "summer people," but they were low-key. However, in recent years it has become popular with much wealthier summer people than we were used to, which has changed things. Farms have been gobbled up into luxury golf courses, formerly public things (like beach access and fishing ponds) have become private — with signs and fences to keep out strangers, and things are a lot more crowded.
The crowds are great for local-business owning families like mine (fishing boat captains, farm stand operators, painting contractors) and Piper's (they own a riding stable), but not so great for traffic, house prices, mom & pop stores in town, and stuff like that. It's also not great for kids who don't have rich parents, like us, because things like the movies and bowling are so expensive. Plus, Piper's parents are divorced and they both had to move far away for their jobs, at least for a while. Piper didn't want to move to Ohio or Pennsylvania, so her grandmother, Bett, offered to keep her here, which worked out great for everyone. But Piper doesn't like asking Bett flat-out for pocket money, and her parents aren't able to send her much.
Piper and I know that when summer comes, it's time to make money. Our families in Westham work like crazy from Memorial Day to Labor Day to make every penny they can, because things really drop off after that. If they don't kill it in the summer, things get pretty lean in Cape Cod by February or March. Piper and I are used to it, and we pitch in and work hard too; I work at my mom's family's farm stand, and Piper, at her grandma Bett's barn. These jobs pay decently (the tips are what really count) so it's worth it, and it would be hard to give up. Unless something really great came along.
Excerpted from "Junior Lifeguards, Book 1: The Test"
Copyright © 2017 Elizabeth Doyle Carey.
Excerpted by permission of Dunemere Books.
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
Chapter One A Bright Idea,
Chapter Two Unemployed,
Chapter Three All In,
Chapter Four Boys,
Chapter Five The Residents of Brookfield Lane,
Chapter Six Background Check,
Chapter Seven Poolies,
Chapter Eight Quitter,
Chapter Nine The Ocean Test,
Chapter Ten Flailing,
Chapter Eleven Testing,
Chapter Twelve Lessons,
Chapter Thirteen Lifeguards,
About the Author,