SynopsisWhen the boy you love asks you to keep his greatest secret, do you? A thought-provoking, achingly complex novel about prejudice and the many meanings of love from Nina de Gramont, author of Meet Me at the River, which Kirkus Reviews called a “must-read.” Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s. Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim...always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love.
The next morning, sure enough, Dad and I took his Jeep down to meet the bus. He let me drive. I kind of hoped he’d let me drive all the way to school. Even though I’d turned sixteen last week, I still only had a learner’s per- mit, so I needed a licensed driver in the car with me. But when I suggested this to Dad, he said, “You made a deal, Wren.”
I tried not to snort at this. The deal: I’d promised that if they let me switch schools, I would take the bus every day. Dad thought it would be good for me to have to get to the end of the road on time, because in his opinion I had problems with punctuality. He also said that even after I got my license, it would be a good while before they would be comfortable with me driving into Williamsport on my own. Overprotective, like I said. Still, even if I did have my license, we didn’t exactly have money lying around for an extra car, so there hardly seemed a point in hurrying down to the DMV.
While we waited for the bus, Dad told me that the biologists and forest service people needed to decide whether they should move the alligator or let the species expand its territory. No matter what they decided, I wasn’t sure if I would ever walk down the road by myself again. And thanks to Mr. Alligator, I knew my days of swimming in the Cutty River were over for good, even if the mercury rose to two hundred degrees.
But guess what? When I got on the bus, it turned out I’d become a celebrity! It seemed everyone on the bus had heard about our alligator. Who knew so many kids watched the news? Even the people who hadn’t seen me on TV knew about it. Practically everyone leaned out the open windows, trying to look down the river and spot the gator. When I sat down and the bus pulled away, about ten kids—most of them juniors and seniors—crowded around, asking me questions. I told them about how that loquat fell off the tree and then I saw the alligator floating in the water. I held my hands out wide to show them how big it was, wiggling my fingers to show it was even longer than my arms would go.
“God,” one girl said. “I would’ve run so fast!”
“That’s what I did,” I told her. “My dad said I looked like the Bionic Woman coming up the driveway.” I didn’t mention that I’d screamed for my mom the whole way.
During this conversation, I noticed one guy hanging over the seat a couple of rows closer to the driver, watching me. It kinda seemed like he was more interested in me than what I said about the alligator. Not knowing I would be getting so much attention today, I hadn’t put much effort into what I was wearing. I had on a sleeveless Fresh Produce sundress that essentially looked like an oversize T-shirt, and my hair was in a sloppy ponytail. It took a full minute for me to realize that it was Tim Greenlaw looking at me. Not only that, but Allie had been right: He was much taller and even cuter than he’d been at the Cutty River School. Tim Greenlaw looked like he’d spent the whole summer surfing at Wilbur Beach, with this super- blond hair that flopped across his forehead, and the perfect number of freckles. And he had a very smiley way about him, even when he wasn’t smiling. That might not make any sense, but I think it had something to do with his eyes. For some reason he always just looked like a happy person, thinking secret happy thoughts.
Tim saw me staring back at him and waved.
“Hey, Wren,” he said.
Because I am an idiot who never thinks before she speaks, I blurted out, “You remember me?” He smiled, a slow and self-aware smile like he was used to turning girls into morons.
“Well, sure,” he said. “I didn’t get amnesia after Cutty River.” I think he felt bad for me when my face turned red, because he added, “Also, I saw you on the news last night.”
It was nice of him to try, but that didn’t help. My cheeks burned all the way into Williamsport.
About the Author
Nina de Gramont is the novel of two previous novels for teens, Every Little Thing in the World and Meet Me at the River, as well as two books for adults, Of Cats and Men and Gossip of the Starlings. She lives with her husband and daughter in coastal North Carolina.