"The Truth About Jack certainly ticked all the boxes for me. It was funny and sweet and romantic and left me with the warm glowies after I’d finished it." -Claire, Book Blog Bird
Dakota McCloud has just been accepted into a prestigious art school. Soon she’ll leave behind the artists’ colony where she grew up—hippie dad, tofu since birth, yurt—and join her boyfriend and best friend on the East Coast. It was the plan…until Dakota finds out her boyfriend and best friend hooked up behind her back.
Hurt and viciously betrayed, Dakota pours out her heart on a piece of paper, places it in a bottle, and hurls it into the ocean. But it doesn’t quite go where she expects…
Jack Sauvage finds the bottle washed up on the shore and responds to Dakota’s letter. Except what if his straight-laced life doesn’t jive with the free-spirited girl he’s only seen from afar? As Jack creates a persona he believes she’ll love, they slowly fall for each other with each new letter. Now Jack is trying to find a way to make this delicate, on-paper romance happen in real life…without revealing his deception.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to missed connections, mistaken identities, and lots of misbehavior. It may give you all the swoony feels.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Jody Gehrman has authored several novels and numerous plays for stage and screen. Her young-adult novel, Babe in Boyland, won the International Reading Association's Teen Choice Award and was optioned by the Disney Channel. Jody’s plays have been produced or had staged readings in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. Her full-length, Tribal Life in America, won the Ebell Playwrights Prize and received a staged reading at the historic Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She holds a Masters Degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a professor of Communications at Mendocino College in Northern California.
Read an Excerpt
The Truth About Jack
By Jody Gehrman, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Jody Gehrman
All rights reserved.
I stand on the porch of the rickety tree house River and I used to play in. The view's pretty stellar from this height, almost forty feet above the ground; sometimes I like to climb up here really early and watch the sunrise. It's dawn on April first, a perfect spring day. The air feels fresh and cool against my face. I can still smell the fog that crept in from the coast last night, but aside from a few wisps clinging here and there, most of it has burned off. The sky is a luminous lavender. Way off in the distance, past the forest and the rolling green hills, I can just make out a wedge of ocean and a golden slice of beach. Luna Cove. That's the name of the protected little beach spot, but it's also what we call this whole hundred acre parcel, the artist colony where I've lived my whole life.
The oak, fir, and apple trees breathe a damp perfume. I listen as the birds begin their morning cacophony, a manic symphony of cheeps and warbles. On the hillside opposite, the French doors of Fran's tree house glow with pale gold light. She's a writer; she usually gets up around five to start working on her latest novel. Dad's converted barn shows no signs of life yet, nor does the funky straw bale house where River's parents and brothers still live. Tomo's yurt, a little round hut shaped like a circus tent, sits on the hillside below me. The circular skylight's not brightened by lamplight, though, so I guess he's still asleep. No surprise; he's hardly ever awake before ten. My yurt's dark as well, sandwiched between the apple orchard and our big communal garden.
I'm sure I'll miss Luna Cove when I go off to college next year—the round, tent-like yurts, the moonlight sculpture garden, the orchards and the tree houses, the creek and the forests and the far off sea. It's all so familiar to me; it's all I've ever known. I'm so ready, though. I want to go far enough away to miss it, to recall my childhood here and feel a dull, gnawing ache of nostalgia. I want to look up at the Rhode Island stars and remember all of this. I grew up in a little artist colony in Northern California, I imagine myself telling a stranger at a party. It's beautiful! Everyone lives in tree houses and yurts and converted barns. We all have our own space, but we're a community, you know? Like a little tribe.
A peacock calls out from our neighbors' farm. I try to imitate his high-pitched, crazy sound, but he doesn't respond. Apparently I'm not a convincing peacock.
My eyes wander to the narrow, winding dirt road that connects Luna Cove to Joy Road. Is it just wishful thinking, or do I feel the stirrings of a premonition? Could there be a surprise waiting for me in the mailbox at the end of that road? The Rhode Island School of Design website said letters would go out at the end of March or early April.
Maybe today's the day.
I climb down the rickety ladder, excitement swelling inside me, even though I tell myself not to get my hopes up. Walking down the dirt road, my old blue Converse make a soft sound in the dust. I move quickly to stay warm. All I have on are flannel pajama pants and a hoodie, so the brisk morning air makes me shiver.
It's like I already know. Like the envelope is a time bomb in the mailbox, and I can hear it ticking.
When I finally reach the end of the road, I just stare at the row of mailboxes, my heart pounding. I painted these mailboxes a few years ago, when I was fourteen. That was before I found my "artistic voice," as Fran calls it. Back then I just smeared everything with bright, primary colors, no sense of depth or mystery. I'd like to think I've grown as an artist since then, that I've figured out a more kinetic, interesting way to express my ideas. I cringe whenever I see the flat, childlike pictures I painted all over the property, embarrassing artifacts of my early attempts at beauty. Our metal mailbox sports a chunky, orange-haired mermaid sitting next to a jellyfish. They both look a little uncertain, almost apologetic, like they never meant to end up here.
I stand there holding my breath. My fingers shake as I reach for the cold metal latch.
And then I see it. There, mixed in with the gardening catalogues and the bills and the credit card offers sits a fat white envelope addressed to me. I snatch it up. It's big and rather thick, not the letter-sized kind they send rejections in. My heart pounds. I feel like I could jump off this dirt road and rocket up into the sky, zoom around like a balloon you blow up all the way and then release. I feel that light, that buoyant, and full of reckless hope.
I tear open the envelope and skim the cover letter. Dear Dakota McCloud: I am delighted to inform you that the Admissions Committee has voted to offer you a place at RISD.
I can't help myself. I tip my head back and scream up at the sky, a wordless, savage thank-you to the gods. This time the peacock calls back, sounding a little miffed. I laugh. I've practically crushed the envelope in my excitement. I stuff the papers back into it and skip crazily up the road, no longer the least bit cold. I'm burning to share my news, but also loving this moment when nobody knows except me.
Finally, after all this waiting, the rest of my life can begin.
Dad's eyes go wide when he sees me. He's in his garden drinking a cappuccino. All around him, hummingbirds swoop and hover. They weave drunkenly from the trumpet vines to the passionflowers to the honeysuckle, their wings a blur.
"Is that what I think it is?" he asks, getting up from his Adirondack chair.
I don't answer, just hand it to him. I can barely contain myself as he pulls the letter from the envelope and reads silently. I put the rest of the mail down on the rickety tiled table. I watch his eyes move back and forth. One hand absently deposits the cappuccino on the table. Then he tosses the letter down onto his chair and swoops me into his arms, swinging me around like he used to when I was little.
"You did it! I knew you would!" he says into my hair.
I feel like I might burst. Literally. My chest physically aches with the effort of holding all this happiness inside.
I've wanted to go to RISD ever since I was little. My mom went there twenty-five years ago, so I grew up hearing about what a great school it is, even though she dropped out after her freshman year. I met Cody, my boyfriend, through Mom. He took Mom's printmaking class at the community center, and we bonded over our mutual obsession with art and design. Mom's dreamy talk about her magical year in Rhode Island must have made a big impression on both of us, because now he's a freshman at RISD and I'm about to join him.
When Dad finally releases me from his hug, he's still smiling. "Who should we tell first?" His eyes shine like we're naughty kids planning something forbidden.
"Fran," I say decisively.
"You're right. She's the only one who's up anyway."
We jangle Fran's wind chimes as we stand below her house, and she dashes out the French doors and onto the deck like she'd been expecting us. "I heard you already!" She glowers, her salt and pepper curls askew, her long purple dress looking wrinkled and slept-in. "What's going on? Why are you two so happy?"
"Dakota got in!" Dad bellows.
She staggers back like he's hit her with a cannonball. When her head reappears above the porch railing, she's laughing and clapping her hands. Dad and Fran homeschooled me my whole life, so this is her victory, too.
"Come up! This calls for a celebratory espresso! Anything you like, Dakota. Anything at all!"
We climb the ladder to Fran's porch and she hustles us inside. The usual Fran smells hit me: incense, baking bread, coffee. Dad and I stand at the counter separating her kitchen from her living room while she rushes about in a whirl of purple.
"What do you want? Americana? Mocha? Caramel and singed marshmallow latte?" Fran's craggy face glows with pleasure as she warms up her gleaming silver espresso machine. She glances at Dad's nearly empty mug and wrinkles her nose in distaste. "Are those the sad dregs of a cappuccino? Honestly, you'll never learn to steam the milk properly."
"I like it wet, that's all." He tries to sound stern.
A couple years ago, a big café in Sebastopol went out of business, so Dad and Fran got two restaurant-grade espresso makers dirt cheap. They installed them in their respective homes and became dueling baristas. I've been the guinea pig for many an experimental concoction. Fran's tofu milk and carob mochaccino was an all-time low, but mostly I've benefited from their competitive coffee-making. Since Luna Cove's twenty minutes from the nearest town—and even that's only Sebastopol, hardly a city—it helps having not one but two in-house Starbucks. Well, the Luna Cove version of Starbucks, anyway.
"Have you called River or Cody yet?" Fran asks, pulling soy milk from her fridge and sniffing it.
I shake my head. "I just found out a few minutes ago."
"They'll be so thrilled!"
"They're not morning people," I say. "I'll wait."
River's my best friend since forever. She grew up here at Luna Cove, and now she goes to Brown, which is really close to RISD. It's just my luck that my best friend and my boyfriend are both slightly older and therefore got to start their college lives a whole year before me. We'll all be in Rhode Island together in a matter of months, though. The three of us will probably get a place together, maybe an old, creaky haunted house with lots of cats and a fireplace and art on every wall.
"So what'll it be?" Fran's looking at me expectantly, soy milk at the ready.
"A soy chai latte sounds good."
"You want a little vanilla syrup in that?" She opens a cupboard filled with every type of coffee and tea imaginable. When Fran gets into something, she totally goes for it. Her eyes gleam with competitive verve as she steals a glance at Dad.
"Maybe just a touch," I concede, knowing she craves a challenge.
"What about you, Ray?" She affects a casual tone. "You want a refill?"
"A cappuccino." He smirks. "Wet."
"Coming right up!"
* * *
Uncle Jack, the guy I'm named after, died in a car accident days before his nineteenth birthday. He'd just bought a convertible Karmann Ghia, drove it too fast one rainy night. It sailed right over a cliff, landed on the jagged rocks below. That was thirty years ago, but my mom's never really gotten over it. I get that. I mean, she really loved him, so obviously his death would leave a scar. All the same—and I don't mean to sound like a callous jerk, but seriously—why do I have to suffer the consequences? I'm eighteen years old, and she still refuses to let me drive. Crazy, right? She says as long as I live under her roof, I've got to follow her rules. She's got plenty of other quirky regulations, but this one's the hardest to accept.
And okay, so she does pay Attila to drive me around in the classic Rolls Royce that's been in our family for ages. Not a bad rig, no doubt. Attila's okay, if a little odd. Odd's cool, though, so I don't really mind having him around. He used to be my tutor; he taught me way more than I'd ever learn in high school. Never mind that English is his second language; he's read more novels than anyone I've ever met, so teaching me about literature was a cinch for him. Now that I've gotten into Juilliard, Attila's more a chauffeur than anything else. It shouldn't be a big deal, since I like him and I like the Rolls, naturally. Still, there's something ... what's the word I'm looking for? ... so emasculating about it. Like I can't be trusted. Like I'm not man enough to get behind the wheel and drive myself down to the mall or the movies or the beach or the corner store, for God's sake.
On April Fool's Day, I wake up craving the unexpected. I'm dying to climb into my own car and go wherever I want. Freedom. Me, steering wheel, road. I imagine myself taking the corners with easy confidence, not even knowing where I'll end up, just turning down any street that calls to me. You can't really do that with a chauffeur.
It's one of those unbelievable spring days with a perfect blue sky and puffy white clouds. It's late morning as I stand on my balcony in cutoff sweats and a torn T-shirt looking out over Alexander Valley. The vineyards of our family winery sweep down the hillside. In the distance, so far away it looks like a toy, I can just make out a red Porsche tearing along Highway 128. Lust for wheels, for freedom, surges inside me all over again.
I find Mother in the breakfast room, staring out the window at the pool with sad, distant eyes. She wears that expression a lot when she thinks nobody's looking. As soon as she notices me, her face lights up with a smile.
"Let me drive to the beach," I blurt. No planning, no finesse, just there it is. I could kick myself.
She sips her tea. "We're not having this discussion."
"It's humiliating! Legally, I'm an adult. I can go to war, get married, buy cigarettes—"
"Cigarettes?" she echoes, alarmed.
"Hypothetically. But I can't drive a car? It's dumb."
"You know the rules."
I cross the room and yank a chair out from the table, straddle it backward. I'm off to a bad start. Jumping right in without even formulating an argument was a total rookie move. I try a different tack. "Do you have any idea how important cars are to the average American male's identity?"
She gives me a suspicious look.
"I mean it! In this country, manhood and motors are inextricably intertwined." How's that for a little pop psychology? I lower my chin and fix her with what I hope is a sufficiently baleful stare. "You're damaging my sense of self. You're hampering my ability to enter adulthood."
She bursts out laughing. "You're incorrigible!"
"I'll be in therapy for years."
"Yes, but you'll be alive." She turns her attention to the New York Times at her elbow.
"Not if I die from a withering lack of machismo."
"You have plenty of machismo."
I can tell by her tone that if I push this further, she'll lose patience. Any chance of success I had minutes ago has now expired, and nothing can revive it. Once again, mission not accomplished. I sigh in frustration and stand, grabbing a muffin from the steaming basket of pastries our cook, Felix, puts out every morning. I tear it in half, then scarf it down. It's delicious—tart raspberries in moist, sweet dough. I want coffee, but I don't want to stick around long enough to drink it. I'll get some on the road, I decide.
"Where's Attila?" I ask, still chewing.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," she scolds. "I believe he's in the library."
I start for the door. These days, when Attila's not driving me, he can usually be found in our library, devouring literature. I think he also secretly scribbles away on some magnum opus, but I've never gotten him to admit it. He's forever quoting Nietzsche or Shakespeare, which can be annoying.
"Where are you going?" Mother calls to my back.
"You need to practice."
"Uh-huh," I say without conviction.
"I mean it, Jack! Juilliard's only five months away."
By then, though, I'm halfway to the stairs, far enough to pretend I haven't heard.
Opening the door to the library, the silence hits me. In every other room, sounds of the winery nestled on the hillside below tend to penetrate: the rumble of machinery, the call of workers. It's a constant reminder of Dad's world. Here, though, everything is insulated. Mom was a lit major at Stanford, and she loves reading more than anything. When they remodeled the chateau, she insisted they make this room soundproof. The silence in here is thick and somber.
The morning sun makes the oak floors glow. The massive bookshelves covering the walls are filled to capacity; Mom has an impressive collection, many of them first editions. I spot Attila in his favorite leather reading chair, lost in some tome. He hunches over it intently, his mouth frozen in a little O of concentration.
"Isn't it a little early to be hitting the junk?"
He lifts his gray eyes from the page, surveys me. "What does this mean, 'hitting the junk'?"
Excerpted from The Truth About Jack by Jody Gehrman, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2015 Jody Gehrman. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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