Living in the White House is like being permanently grounded. Only with better security.
First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can't wait for the party she has planned. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute, squashing Audrey's chances for making any new friends. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don't have anyone to play with?
Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless—until she discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary. The former First Daughter's outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun...and get her into more trouble than she can handle.
"The combination of humor, history, light romance and social consciousness make Rebecca Behrens' debut novel a winner." —BookPage
"Rebecca Behrens combines charming and quirky characters from two different centuries, creating a believable, engaging story that tugs at the heart and tickles the funny bone." —Nikki Loftin, award-winning author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy
"Outrageous and riveting. …this book aims to inspire and stir young girls to unearth their inner Alice Roosevelt and to 'eat up the world.'" —School Library Journal
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|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It is ridiculously difficult to get a pizza delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I raced down the hallway connecting the Residence to the East Wing, on my way to make sure that one of the staffers was ready to run out to the Northwest Gate and guide the delivery guy through visitor security, where the pizzas would be inspected and metal-detected. I passed the Family Theater on my way and poked my head inside. "Is the movie set up?"
My Uncle Harrison appeared from the projection booth in back. He'd flown out from the Midwest to help me throw my party. "Yup! We're just about to test it out."
"Awesome!" I did a little happy dance and then dashed out of the theater, back to searching for a pizza wrangler.
I don't exactly order a lot of pizzas around here-why would I, when I can wander down to the kitchen and get basically whatever food my heart desires? A mint-chocolate-chip sundae with a fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie? Sure! Vegetarian sushi rolls? Coming right up! French fries shaped like zoo animals? No problem!
But at every party I've attended since I started at Friends Academy, we've feasted on delivery pizza. Thanks to security and scheduling, I don't get to many parties these days. So once I finally had a chance to invite people over-the whole eighth-grade class of Friends-I wanted my party to be like all the others I'd missed. Well, as close as a party in the White House can be.
Last week, the studio making the Aquatica cyborg-mermaid trilogy into movies sent me an advance copy of the first film. (Getting advance copies of books and movies is one of the perks of being First Kid.) I had an amazing idea: What if I hold a screening for my class, before the movie is even in theaters?
The people in the East Wing office put in a few calls with the studio heads, and they agreed that I could screen the movie on the Tuesday before it opened. I couldn't send out my invite fast enough. "Movie Screening Party! Come over to my place and watch the Aquatica movie-before anyone but the stars themselves!" I wrote. Within an hour, everyone in my class replied yes. People were writing stuff like, "OMG! You're the best, Audrey" and "Coolest party ever." Even Madeline Horn was excited, and she has hated me ever since the election, because her grandfather was running for veep-and lost. This screening party wouldn't make up for the many, many social events I'd missed in the past year, but it would help.
I rounded a corner and almost collided with one of the staffers. My ballet flats squeaked as I skidded to a stop. My heart kept racing. "Do you know if the pizza is here?" My party's start time ticked closer.
The staffer said, "Not yet. But don't worry, Audrey-we're on it." I don't know what all it entails in terms of food security. I know if my parents and I go out to eat, we have to bring along our own bottled water and condiments, and someone from the Secret Service monitors our food as it's being made in the kitchen. An agent also washes our plates and cutlery before the food is put on them and watches the dishes like a hawk as they are brought out to the table. When we are at 1600 (I still can't call it "my house"), my mom doesn't have a taster-someone to take a bite of her food before she starts eating to make sure it won't make her sick. But other food-security specifics are a mystery, even to me. For all I know, pizza that I'm going to eat has to be supervised too. Maybe one of my agents spent the afternoon at Pizzeria Paradiso, wearing a floppy chef's hat (with the radio earpiece sticking out) and helping spin the pie dough in the air. Maybe I should check their suits for telltale flour smudges.
The staffer smiled and put her hand on my shoulder reassuringly. "Why don't you head back to the Visitors Foyer and supervise decorations?" I guess she picked up on my nervousness. As excited as I was to see the new movie with all my classmates, I worried about everything going smoothly. When it came to socializing outside school, I was rusty.
I skipped back to the foyer and rearranged the cardboard cutouts of the movie's stars that the studio had sent along with the film. My guests could pose for pictures with them. I bet by tomorrow these cutouts will be in 50 percent of my class's profile pics. I straightened the napkins on the table and took a few test sips of the special blue Aquatica punch the chefs had created for the screening. It tasted like fizzy lemonade, and it was delicious. A row of clamshells made out of oranges decorated the rim of the bowl. I admired the tiny marzipan mermaids on the dessert table. The clock showed it was 6:15 p.m. People would start arriving any minute. I sat down in an armchair and surveyed the room, grinning. Everything is perfect. It was one of those moments in which I couldn't believe that this was my life now, throwing movie-screening parties for my friends in the White House. Now my racing heart wasn't from nervousness, but excitement.
"Audrey! Audrey!" My uncle's voice, tinged with panic, came from the direction of the Family Theater. My first thought was, The projector broke the movie. As I started to stand up from my seat, I saw Harrison running down the hall, flanked by my agents, Hendrix and Simpkins. Harrison's face was white as a sheet, and both agents wore grim frowns. Hendrix swept over and put her arm around my shoulders, pulling me with her as she hustled us out of the foyer and back into the Residence.
"What's happening? Where are we going?" At that point I felt more confused than scared.
Simpkins piped up from behind me. "Security breach. We'll explain in a minute, but first we need to get you guys downstairs."
"But my party! People are going to start showing up any minute!" Simpkins and Hendrix exchanged a look but didn't say anything. I turned to look at Harrison and tried to hold my ground, but Hendrix kept pulling me forward. Harrison wasn't any help; he looked like he was going to barf, which in turn made my stomach drop. Harrison's the opposite of my mom, and whenever possible he refuses to take anything seriously. I've never seen him worried, not even the time we set a tablecloth on fire making crème brûlée. To see him rattled was creepy.
"Is this for a fence jumper?" I asked. We get those a lot, actually. The agents on the grounds and the infrared sensors pick them up right away, and the people are usually confused or crazy but harmless. The Secret Service doesn't bother to bring me and my parents into secure areas when that happens.
All Simpkins said was, "No." My stomach dropped to the sub-basements.
The ground floor of the Residence bustled with staff on walkie-talkies and guards running around, and suddenly I was terrified. "Where's my mom? Where's my dad?"
Hendrix squeezed my shoulder in a running hug. "They're still on their way home, but they're fine, sweetie."
Once we were in the basement, Harrison and I got someone to tell us what was going on: a small plane was in the no-fly zone, and it wasn't responding to air-traffic control. When the situation unfolded, the Secret Service decided to keep my dad at his lab at Johns Hopkins University, and my mom stayed somewhere secure in the Capitol building. Harrison and I sat in stony silence as I compulsively twirled my hair. I get so worried about something happening to my mom or dad, and I wished they were here with us. My stomach clenched, and I felt like I was going to be sick. I squeezed my eyes shut and pictured my parents safe at home. Our Minnesota home.
We waited in the basement for what felt like forever until some military-looking guy declared the situation all clear. Turns out the plane, an itty-bitty Cessna, was being flown by a student pilot. The poor guy got lost, didn't know about the no-fly zone, and couldn't figure out how to work the radio to explain what was going on. It had been worrisome enough that the fighter planes went up, but thankfully nobody got hurt. Color returned to Harrison's face immediately upon hearing all that.
He coughed and smiled sheepishly. "That'll get your heart rate going. Right, Audi?" The fact that he was back to using his nickname for me meant he'd fully recovered. I still felt like a wrung-out dishrag.
"Sure." My legs were shaky from the running and the stress, but I stood up anyway. "We need to get back to the party, Harrison." I wondered which early birds were standing around in the foyer, waiting for their host to show. I stretched and headed for the stairs.
"Audrey," Simpkins said, stopping me from heading up. "I have bad news. We're following protocol. The security level has been elevated for the rest of the day. I'm afraid you know what that means." Simpkins's face crumpled into a frown. "No nonessential guests. You can't have the screening anymore."
"No!" I shouted. A few staffers glanced over at us. "They can't do that!" I shook my head. "No way." I could feel hot tears forming, but I fought them back. They can't do this to me. Not today. Not for my party.
"I'm sorry, Audrey. They have to. No visitors at level red. Your guests were already turned away at the gate."
I covered my face with my hands. "I'm going to die. I'm going to die of embarrassment. I am letting the entire eighth grade down." More than that, I'd been trying to have people over for months. I was so disappointed and dejected that I wanted to sink to the bottom of the White House swimming pool and stay there forever.
"There's no way an exception can be made?" Harrison crossed his arms over his chest. "This party means a great deal to Audrey." I think he also didn't want to miss a chance to watch the movie. Harrison loves the trilogy as much as I do-maybe more. He was even wearing a Team Mermaid T-shirt under his pullover.
Simpkins shook his head. "I'm sorry, but no." I ran up the stairs, those tears now streaming down my face.
An hour later, Harrison and I sat in the front row of the Family Theater, watching the movie before anyone else in the country. Just the two of us. On a table next to Harrison was a carafe of beautiful blue punch and a plate of those marzipan mermaids, and next to still-sniffling me was a box of tissues. Oh, and a dozen pizza boxes were stacked at our feet. At least the pizza guy made it before the lockdown.