Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spotlight: Life, Love, and Surviving High School by Ann Herrick

Today we're spotlighting Life, Love, and Surviving High School by Ann Herrick! We've got an excerpt from chapter one, so make sure you check that out below! Here;s the synopsis:

Becca secretly lusts after Brent, Claire's boyfriend--and then Claire makes Becca an offer about Brent that she can't resist!

Becca's in high school, but she hasn't been on the same page as her best friends since just before the start of middle school and she doesn't know exactly how things got so different. Not different in some edgy, gritty, she's-a-rebel way. More of a Yes-she's-a-dork way. Which makes it all the more amazing that while other friendships have crashed and burned all around them the four of girls have managed to stay Best Friends Forever. She doesn't need to share in her friends' spotlight. Becca's happy to follow along in the shadows, as long as she's not totally cast aside.

She definitely not ready for guys. In fact, she just wants to skip right over high school and jump straight to twenty-two. By then she figures she will have gotten through her first date, first kiss, passed her driver's test, taken the SATs, filled out all those college applications, somehow survived living in a dorm and gotten her college degree without all the anxiety and drama.

Instead, just after silently deciding to not even think about guys and concentrate on school work for the next four years, she is instantly mesmerized by Brent, a seriously great-looking senior who also happens to have a long-time girlfriend, Claire. Not one to be the "other woman," Becca imagines creative ways for Claire to be out of Brent's life.

Meanwhile, Becca forms a strictly friends-only relationship with Colt, who she first thinks of as "Farmboy." Becca and Colt turn out be good partners when it comes to studying, taking pictures for the school newspaper and working on a term paper together. But when one day Claire makes an offer about Brent that Becca can't resist, that changes everything.

Excerpt from Life, Love, and Surviving High School:

I'm the only one basically ignoring the sailboat stocked with Cute Guys straight out of central casting.

It figures. I haven't been on the same page as my friends since just before the start of middle school. I don't know exactly how things got so different. Not different in some edgy, gritty, I'm-a-rebel way. More of a Yes, I'm a dork way. Which makes it all the more amazing that while other friendships crashed and burned all around us, the four of us have managed to stay Best Friends Forever. Luckily, because in a group I can hide from my own I will never get life figured out fears. 
Thing is, do my Best Friends Forever still really like me? Or is there just some leftover loyalty going on? You know, the way I keep Sammie, my matted, scruffy teddy bear. I guess Sammie "should really be thrown out" (according to Mom), because he is a total mess. But he was always there for me when I was little. I mean, the reason he's so matted and scruffy is because I spent the vast majority of my formative years either drowning him with my tears or practically asphyxiating him with my hugs (not that he actually could breathe, but you know what I mean).

Anyway. My Best Friends Forever and I are all first-borns. We all live on Chittenden Street, which has the most architectural diversity in Franklin, Oregon.

Students from the School of Architecture at the university come to study it, because even though there are different styles of houses from different eras it all works together. Just as Randi, Tanya, Nina and I used to. (Dad calls us the Vowel Sisters, because, you know, our first names all end in vowels.) For a while now I've felt as if maybe I need remodeling, updating, or maybe a bunch of architecture students writing a thesis about me on how to fit in anymore. 
For one thing, Nina, Randi and Tanya love reality shows. I, however, have no patience for the phony drama on those programs. There's more than enough real-life drama. (Okay, so mine is mostly internal and self-inflicted, but still.) 
Then there's the whole Looks thing. I was just as cute as any of them up until, you guessed it, middle school. Then my jaw got a little too square and my nose got a little too pointy and suddenly I was off center from being cute (Tanya Moreau), pretty (Randi Volmer) or beautiful (Nina Olsen). I'm not even interesting-looking enough to qualify as exotic or mysterious. 
I no longer bring up the stuff I still think is fun. Horses or bike riding, for instance. Nina, Randi and Tanya went straight from that sort of thing to hair, makeup, clothes and guys. Not that I'm totally not interested, more that I never seem to get any of the first three right, which leaves me feeling less than comfortable around the opposite gender—as Mom insists on putting it. "Sex is what people do," she says, "gender is who they are". Whatever. Sometimes I still ride my bike. It's not so much fun by myself, though.

Then there's the fact I always think summer's never going to fade. Until, of course, it does.

Like now—Labor Day. Boats, swimmers and splashing kids churn the surface of Pine Crest Lake. People soaking up the last rays of summer litter the grassy area of the park like refuse from the overflowing trashcans. Cute Guys in the sailboat circle like sharks on the trail of hemoglobin. 
Nina, Randi, Tanya and I stretch out on our towels on the thin strip of rough, pebbly grit that doesn't quite make it as a beach, but which I like to pretend is the white sand of Hawaii (not that I've ever been there). Did I mention that given a twelve-week stretch of warm, sunny school-free days I can imagine I live in a tropical dream world?

While I'm pretending summer is going to go on forever, Nina, Randi and Tanya are talking about Wednesday, The First Day of High School, which they've been looking forward to and I've been (silently) dreading all summer. 
"I so can't wait!" Randi reaches up to comb her thick brown hair. She arches her back to stick out her boob region, and watches every guy within a fifty-foot radius check out her B-cups. I mean, guys must think they're holding conversations with boobs, because that's where they focus their attention. 
"Yeah." Nina twists the tiger's-eye ring on her middle finger.

"Ooh, nice ring," Tanya says. "Did you make it?" 
Nina nods. Not only is she beautiful, she's creative. She has a rock-polishing machine she got off the internet for almost nothing, and uses inexpensive semi-precious stones with twisting wire for the settings. She sells some of her jewelry to girls at school and occasionally at the Outdoor Market that's held downtown every Saturday. "I'm ready for some decent art classes."

Note: The closest I come to art is doodling in class. 
In the boob department Nina's not so much, but she's so amazingly beautiful guys actually gaze into her face, or maybe stare at her with longing, as romance novels would put it. Sometimes it's hard to believe someone so beautiful has to work for everything she has, from her clothes to her rock-polishing machine, earning the money by babysitting, dog-walking, jewelry-selling and yard work.

"I'm ready for more guys." Tanya flicks her sleek wealth of black hair off her shoulder as she sits cross-legged, almost finished knitting the sweater that was originally going to be the first of a matching pair for her and Colin, her boyfriend all through eighth grade. While Randi and Nina usually have guys buzzing around them, Tanya is the only one who wore her boyfriend's T-shirt, went to movies with him every week and called him to come over and walk her to wherever she wanted to go all the time. She's totally entertaining when it comes to her endeavors of domination of the male species. 
Colin's dad got transferred to upstate New York in early August, however, and off Colin went, poof, just like that. He and Tanya were going to stay a couple and go to the same college, thus the matching-sweaters plan. But New York turned out to be too far from Oregon for a long-distance relationship for Tanya. Really, another school district would be too far for her. She wants a boyfriend to be elbow-to-elbow at all times. I think she thought she'd have hooked someone new by now, but it didn't happen. Despite being a little on the chunky side, she is cute enough to get most guys to look at her more than once, especially since some of that chunkiness is in the exact right location, if you know what I mean. 
"More guys, for sure." Randi says. She shakes her hair so the sunlight bounces off the shiny chestnut tones, because she sees the Cute Guys in the sailboat sliding slowly by again, ever closer to shore. "But, also, high school is when your parents still take care of you financially, but you don't have to spend that much time with them." 
"I want to skip right over high school and jump straight to twenty-two. By then, I figure, I will have gotten through my first date, first kiss, passed my driver's test, taken the SATs, filled out all those college applications, somehow survived living in a dorm and gotten my college degree," I don't dare say, because I don't want to anyone to know how dorky I am. I mean, I'm a good listener when it comes to others baring their entire inner selves, but I prefer to keep my own feelings bottled up. 
However, even though I don't say it out loud, if I could skip right to my twenties I would, so all the stress of high school and college and all those firsts would be behind me and I'd be ready to cope with life. 
I think. 
I hope.

For more about Life, Love, and Surviving High School check out these sites!


  1. I love the fresh sounding voice in this excerpt. I imagine the story romps along. Best of luck with it Ann!

  2. Hi Ann.
    Sounds like a great read. Loved the excerpt.

    Best wishe


  3. Thanks, Victoria and Margaret! And thanks, Jesse, for featuring my book!

  4. I would have loved to have skipped my teen years and go straight into my twenties, that would have been a dream! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I really enjoyed that excerpt! I like the tone of the narrator. Made me chuckle a few times. Going to have to add this one to my TBR list. :)

  6. What a charmer this excerpt is! Ann writes such compelling YA books--every time.


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