Welcome to the Nerd Blast for Some Boys by Patty Blount. I am so excited to participate, I read this book 2 years ago and gave it 4 stars, so I am happy to help out with promoting this book.
For today’s post I will tell you all about the book/author, a book trailer, I got an excerpt, and there is a giveaway. Yep, a filled to the brim post!
Minutes pass, but they feel like centuries. I fumble for my phone—my mom’s phone since she made me switch with her—and call her.
“Grace, what’s wrong?”
“Can’t breathe, Mom. Hurts,” I push out the words on gasps of air. “Okay, honey, I want you to take a breath and hold it. One, two,
three, and let it out.”
I follow her instructions, surprised I have any breath in my lungs to
hold for three seconds. The next breath is easier.
“Keep going. Deep breath, hold it, let it out.”
It takes me a few tries, but finally I can breathe without the barrier. “Oh, God.” “Better?”
“Yeah. It doesn’t hurt now.” “Want me to take you home?”
Oh, home. Where there are no laughing classmates pointing at me, whispering behind their hands. Where there are no ex-friends calling me a bitch or a liar. Where I could curl up, throw a blanket over my head, and pretend nothing happened. Yes, take me home. Take me home right now as fast as you can.
I want to say that. But when I glance in the mirror over the row of sinks, something makes me say, “No. I have to stay.”
“Mom, I have to stay.”
There’s a loud sigh. “Oh, honey. You don’t have to be brave.”Brave.
The word hangs in the air for a moment and then falls away, almost
like even it knows it has no business being used to describe me. I’m not brave. I’m scared. I’m so freakin’ scared. I can’t see straight, and I can’t see straight because I’m too scared to look very far. I’m a train wreck. All I’m doing is trying to hold on to what I have left. Only I’m not sure what that is. When I say nothing, she laughs too loudly. “Well, you’re wearing your father’s favorite outfit, so just pretend it’s a superhero costume.”
That makes me laugh. I glance down at my favorite boots—black leather covered in metal studs. My ass-kicking boots. Ever since Dad married Kristie, Mom lets me get away with anything that pisses him off, and wow does he hate how I dress.
“Why don’t you go to the library until the bell rings? Relax and regroup, you know?”
Regroup. Sure. Okay. “Yeah. I’ll do that.”
“If you need me to get you, I’ll come. Okay?”
I meet my own gaze in the mirror, disgusted to see them fill with tears. Jeez, you’d think I’d be empty by now. “Thanks, Mom.” I end the call, tuck the phone in my pocket, and head for the library.
The library is my favorite spot in the whole school. Two floors of books, rows of computers, soft chairs to slouch in. I head for the nonfiction section and find the 770s. This is where the photography books live—my stack. I run a finger along the spines and find the first book I ever opened on the subject—A History of Photography.
I pull the book off its shelf, curl up with it in a chair near a window, and flip open the back cover. My signature is scrawled on the checkout card so many times now that we’re old friends. I know how this book smells—a little like cut grass. How it feels—the pages are thick and glossy. And even where every one of its scars lives—the coffee ring on page 213 and the dog-eared corner in chapter 11. This is the book that said, “Grace, you are a photographer.”
I flip through the pages, reread the section on high-key tech- nique—I love how that sounds. High-key. So professional. It’s really just great big fields of bright white filled with a splash of color or some- times only shadow. I took hundreds of pictures this way—of Miranda, of Lindsay, of me. I practiced adjusting aperture settings and shutter speeds and overexposing backgrounds. It’s cool how even the simplest subjects look calm and cheerful. It’s like the extra light forces us to see the beauty and the flaws we never noticed.
I unzip my backpack and take out the school’s digital camera. It’s assigned to me—official student newspaper photographer. I scroll through the images stored on the card—selfies I shot over the last few months. Why can’t everybody see what I see? My eyes don’t sparkle. My lips don’t curve anymore. Why don’t they see?
With a sigh, I close the book, and a slip of paper floats to the floor. I pick it up, unfold it, and my stomach twists when I read the words printed on it. A noise startles me, and I look up to see Tyler Embery standing at one of the computers. Did he slip this paper into my favorite book? He’s had a painfully obvious crush on me forever. Every time he gets within five feet of me, his face flushes, and sweat beads at his hairline. Tyler volunteers at the library during his free periods and always flags me over to give me the latest issue of Shutterbug that he sets aside for me as soon as it arrives. He grabs something off the desk and walks over to me. I smile, thankful there’s still one person left in this world that doesn’t think Zac McMahon is the second coming of Christ. But Tyler’s not holding a magazine. He’s holding his phone.
“Six-eighty-three.” There’s no blush, no sweat—only disgust.
I make it to the end of the day. At dismissal I make damn sure I’m early for the bus ride home so I can snag an empty row. I plug in my earbuds to drown out the taunts. It’s not so bad, I tell myself repeat- edly, the taste of tears at the back of my throat familiar now. I don’t believe me.
Once safely back in my house, I let my shoulders sag and take my first easy breath of the day. The house is empty and eerie, and I wonder how to fill the hours until Mom gets home. Thirty-two days ago I’d be hanging out after school with Miranda and Lindsay or shopping at the mall or trying to find the perfect action photo at one of the games. In my room I stare at the mirror over my dresser, where dozens of photos are taped— photos of me with my friends, me with my dad, me at dance class. I’m not welcome at any of these places, by any of these people anymore. I don’t have a damn thing because Zac McMahon took it all. I think about Mom killing all of my online accounts and switching phones just until things settle. But now that the video of me that Zac posted on Facebook has 683 Likes, it’s pretty clear that waiting for things to settle is a fantasy.
I rip all the pictures off the mirror, tear them into tiny pieces, and swipe them into the trash bin next to my desk. Then I pull out the slip of paper I found in the photography book, and after a few minutes of staring at it, I dial the number with shaking hands.
“Rape Crisis Hotline, this is Diane. Let me help you.”