Happy Halloween! And a happy book birthday to Valerie Thomas and her book The Clique! Check out the excerpt below and make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Clique!
“The Clique is the story of Audrey Hughes, and the attempt of a boy to win her over by bringing her down. Manipulating her friends, poisoning her relationships, and tearing at her family; Devon will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But Audrey isn’t so easily ruined. She fights for her friends, pulling closer even when they would push her away.”
Excerpt from The Clique:
“Speaking of which, where is he?”
Her question is answered when Mr. Silveris kicks the door open. “Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to kick that hard,” he apologizes. Audrey has to take a moment to take him in: scruffy, dark-brown beard, hairy arms, one of those Hawaiian shirts with the orange flowers on it, khaki pants, and hair pulled back with a—well, it looks like a rubber band. She stifles a giggle.
Mr. Silveris sets his coffee mug on the computer table in the corner. He strides to the whiteboard, opens up a dry-erase marker, and writes his own name and “AP Literature”. Then he turns to the class. “I’m Mr. Silveris. Welcome to AP Literature.” He smiles at Audrey, skips back to the door, and pauses as if confused. “Well, come on. You can leave your things here. We’re going on an adventure!”
Audrey, Kate, Hannah, and the other kids follow Mr. Silveris out to what can only be described as George Washington High’s backyard—a hill overlooking the cafeteria, and further on, Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary. He doesn’t stop until he’s reached the apex of the hill, and then he turns to face his class. “Breathe it in. This is the morning. Your first class of the morning. You could be out here, but instead you’re in there—“ he points to the windows and gray concrete of George Washington.
Mr. Silveris assumes a fighting stance, hands up and legs apart. “I know a lot of you probably feel like you dragged yourself out of bed this morning. Like you would rather be anywhere than here, or there. But remember this, my kiddos: this is life, and you live it no matter what you do. Nothing can pull you out of your life, because what you do is life. While you are here, while you are with me, I will teach you how to live. In the morning, we will win.” He turns away from them, toward the lower parking lot.
“Whitman sounded his barbaric yawp over the treetops. Well, my friends, these are our treetops. Now, come on, yawp with me. Yawp!”
Audrey shares a perplexed look with Kate. She can tell her friend’s wondering if the man’s crazy, and Aude doesn’t blame her. Despite the question, she can’t help but admit the speech has her fired up.
“Yawp with me!” Mr. Silveris shouts. “Yawp!” This time, some of the class joins in. He points to Audrey. “What’s your name, kiddo?”
“Odd?” He shakes his head. “Okay, Aude. Yawp with me! And your friend, too. Everyone! Yawp!”
Audrey smiles and yawps. What is a yawp anyway? she wonders. Oh, who cares! “Yawp!”
Mr. Silveris grins broadly. “Great job. Now, we’re going to get really crazy. Who wants to roll down this hill with me? When was the last time any of you actually rolled down a hill, just for the fun of it? Come on, guys!” He does a cartwheel that ends in several somersaults down the hill.
“Oh my god, I think our English teacher’s crazy!” Hannah whispers. But Mr. Silveris is looking at Audrey, and she knows what he expects.
Aude log-rolls down. When she stands up, she feels dizzy and a little sore where she rolled over a rock—but giddy as well. “That was fun!” she exclaims.
Kate gives a what-the-hell shrug and follows Audrey down. She’s followed by nearly the entire rest of the class. Mr. Silveris waits a few minutes, until only Hannah and a few others are left standing at the top.
He brushes a leaf from his hair and parades back to the room. Once the class is reassembled, he resumes his fighting stance, facing them from the front of the room. “In the morning we will win. In here, I won’t teach you how to crunch numbers, or, god forbid, how to figure out the trajectory of a baseball. In here, I’ll teach you the very essence of life. I will teach you how to fly. But you know what Nietzsche said...“ He pauses, apparently waiting for someone to come up with a relevant quote. “No? Well, that’s alright. You, sir, in the back, could you please read what’s on the wall behind you?”
“The wall behind me?” The boy twists in his chair. “Oh, okay. ‘He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.’”
Mr. Silveris smiles and nods his head. “One cannot fly into flying. Exactly. Nietzsche was the man. If you look over at my desk, you’ll see I only have two pictures: one of my lovely daughter, and one of him. One cannot fly into flying. In the morning we will win.” He pauses, looking a little confused.“Now, where was I going with this? Oh, right. I do not expect you to write like Nietzsche on your first attempts. I only care that you reach for the heavens. In this class, we’ll be reading and analyzing some of the greatest works known to man. In the morning, we will win.”
He paces in front of the desks. “We’ll learn how to describe everything from the wonderful to the grotesque. We’ll study the work of the great masters of English, from Dante to Shakespeare. In the morning, we will win. We’ll write poetry, prose, essays, and—sometimes—complete nonsense. In the morning, we will win.”Aude shares another bemused look with Kate.
“This class is more than just a class. This is the class. If you learn one thing from me, I want it to be this: inside each of you, there’s a chaos. And only through the beauty of language can you give birth to a star.”
The bell rings. “Oops, I forgot the time.” Mr. Silveris grabs a pile of packets from his computer table. “Here, take one on your way out.” He stands at the door and pays each of the students a compliment as they exit.
“Well, that was...“ Kate trails off.
“Fun,” Audrey says, as Hannah says, “Strange.” They look at each other and laugh.
“Both,” Kate agrees.
After the exhilarating start to English, Aude feels ready to carpe some freaking diem. Or go to AP Statistics—you know, whatever.
For more about The Clique check out these sites!