Jan 21, 2013

Watch Me Disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Diane Vanaskie Mulligan


from Chapter 1:

I swear, every time we move to another town and I have to start over at another school, my mother looks at me and thinks, “Maybe this time she’ll make some friends.” She’s a realist. She never advises me to go out there and be myself. Instead she tells me to use this fresh start to reinvent myself, which means to fix whatever is wrong with me.
All I want is to be invisible. My plan for senior year at my new school: Get straight A’s and get into a top-tier college. But this move is different from all the others. This time, my dad keeps reminding me, we’re moving home, to the town where he grew up. This isn’t Texas (which is like another planet) or California (which is like another universe). My entire life, this has been the one place we’ve always returned to, but up until now, only for short visits. There’s the park where I learned to ride a bike, the ice cream shop that makes the world’s best mint chocolate chip, the hill behind my grandmother’s house where my brother and I used to go sledding on snowy Christmases. Maybe this time I can let my guard down a little and not just be the quiet new girl. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

from Chapter 4

“He’s won the high average award the past three years, so unless someone can knock him down this year, he’ll be valedictorian.”
“Him?” I ask. The kid in question looks like some kind of wide-eyed farm boy, not like a valedictorian. He is tan and athletic-looking, but there is nothing cocky in his walk or his expression. If I had to guess just based on appearances, I would say he is probably of average intelligence at best but great with big animals like cows and horses. It is hard to picture him acing a calculus exam.
“Yep. His name is Hunter Groves. Valedictorian and star of the soccer team.”
“No kidding,” I say.
“He’s a nice kid,” Wes adds. “Usually the number one guy is a serious geek, but Hunter’s ok.”
I either hate Hunter Groves or love him. Maybe I am even madly in love with him. It may be shallow, but the guy of my dreams is both hot and smart, and he’s genuine enough to fall for me despite my mere average appearance. I know it’s a double standard to want a guy with looks and brains and maybe even athletic talent, and simultaneously to want people not to judge me by my looks and lack of athletic talent, but there it is. I guess I’m not a good person. And anyway, whatever dream guy I have in my mind, real boys intimidate me completely, and I steer clear of them. The good-looking jocks use their arrogance to compensate for their dull minds, and the really smart guys usually have the people skills of lab rats. There I go again, proving myself to be superficial and judgmental, but I’m just calling it like I see it. The point is, if Hunter Groves is the smart, athletic, nice guy Wes says he is, maybe dreams do come true.

From Chapter 6

I like the makeup better when I put it on myself. I apply it more lightly than they had, so it looks more natural. Try as I might, I’m not very handy at hairstyling, though. I can’t seem to tease the roots as Katherine instructed, and I have no luck with the up-dos they showed me. In the end, Katherine produces a small set of scissors and, while I hold my breath, trims some fringy bangs and layers, which we iron flat into a funky style. When we’re done, I don’t look like me, but I look sort of good. And good thing, too, because all the little pieces she cut are never going to fit into a ponytail.
“See,” Maura says. “That wasn’t so hard.”
“Maybe we should come raid your closet and see what we can do with that,” Katherine says, laughing smugly. She has gotten a little friendlier as the day has gone on. When I let her cut my hair, I think that sealed the deal. She is willing to at least consider extending friendship to me.
“You won’t find much interesting in my closet,” I say.
“What, no secrets?” Maura asks, suddenly turning our conversation away from the safe realm of appearances. My heart pounds. I’m not ready for this kind of conversation. Is this where they turn on me?
“No,” I say. “No cute clothes or skeletons.”
“How disappointing,” Maura says. “I thought there was a wild child in you that we had yet to uncover.”
“You’ve met my parents. They don’t allow much for wildness.”
“Exactly. Kids with strict parents are usually the ones who let it all out when they step outside their parents’ grasp.”
“I guess I’m still pretty much within their grasp,” I say.
Maura makes a tsk sound. “I thought for sure there was more to you, Lizzie,” she says.
I shrug. I wish there was more to me, too.

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