Sunday Street Team is a street team headed by Nori.
To be publish on March 8, 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
In this powerful and buoyant YA novel, a thirteen-year-old girl learns to navigate the shifting loyalities of friendships in middle school and deals with challenges at home.
The beginning of the eighth grade is not what Anna thought it would be. Her lifelong best friend has ditched her for the cool kids, and her mom is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Anna finds herself where she least expects to: living with her dad, his young new wife, and their baby, and starting a new year at school without a best friend. With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna learns that sometimes you find what you need to pull you through in the most unlikely places.
THE NEXT MORNING, Sarabeth Mueller flags me down.
All week she has been doing this, saving a seat for me
on the bus. It is worse than sitting alone, but I don’t
want to hurt her feelings. I take off my backpack, rest
it in my lap.
“Hi,” I say.
Sarabeth Mueller is so pale you can see her veins.
Practically everything about her is see- through. Skin,
hair, fingernails, eyebrows. There is a pink ribbon of
scalp where she parts her hair. Once, when we were
on a class trip to the beach, I saw her squirt sunscreen
“Want to know what I’m doing this weekend?”
I do not want to know what Sarabeth Mueller is doing
this weekend. I am sure it has something to do with
dolls. In sixth grade, she had a birthday party and we
spent the entire time in her bedroom drinking tea and
looking at her dolls. She had about a million of them,
all dressed up and staring down at us from shelves.
Sarabeth adjusts the hem of her skirt. “Ever hear of
Irish step dancing?”
“Um. I don’t think so.”
“Well, it’s a traditional performance dance that originated
in Ireland. I’ve been doing it since I was four. Saturday
I have a competition.”
I am lying so bad. I know exactly what Sarabeth is
talking about because in seventh grade there was this talent
show and she got up onstage and danced for the
whole school. It was the craziest thing. Little Sarabeth
Mueller, all alone with her white toothpick legs and her
big black clogs, going like sixty. The ninth- grade boys
had a field day. Dani and I sat in the back of the auditorium,
the only ones not laughing.
Of course, that was last year. Now if there were a talent
show, Dani would be front and center. She would be up
onstage with Jessa Bell and Whitney Anderson and all
those girls, shimmying around in her tube top and platform
heels, making the ninth- grade boys whistle. And you’d
still fi nd me in the back of the auditorium, not laughing.
“So,” Sarabeth says now, “how long will your mom
be out of town?”
This is what I told her my fi rst day on the bus, and
it’s not exactly a lie. My mo ther is out of town. “Not
long,” I say.
“Do you like staying at your dad’s?”
I shrug. “It’s okay.”
“When did they get divorced?”
“A year ago.” I am chewing on my thumbnail. I am
squinting out the window, hoping we’re close to school,
but we’re not.
“That’s tough,” Sarabeth says. “My grandparents are
divorced. Both sets. If you ever need someone to talk
to . . .”
I don’t know why I’m saying okay. I don’t even know
if Sarabeth means I can talk to her or to her divorced
grandparents. All I know is I need one of those school
bus emergency drills. The driver presses a button and an
escape hatch opens. He doesn’t even have to slow down.
I’ll just jump.
* * *
“The sum of the angles is . . . uh . . . ninety degrees,” I
tell Ms. Baer- Leighton.
Ms. Baer- Leighton is drinking something brown out
of a Poland Spring bottle. She takes a swallow and nods.
I fiddle with my protractor. “So that means they’re . . .
uh . . . complementary angles?”
“Is that your fi nal answer?”
Oh, I hate math so much. No teacher but Ms. Baer-
Leighton makes you stand up in the middle of class like
this, stuttering like an idiot while laser-beam eyes shoot
holes in your back.
“No,” I say. “Supplementary.”
Behind me, someone sniggers.
“The first rule of mathematics”— Ms. Baer- Leighton
swishes her bottle around and around— “as in life, is to
trust your instincts.” She takes a sip. What ever she is
drinking matches her sawed- off haircut. Also her scarf,
dress, and practical pumps. Brown, brown, brown.
Your clothes tell a lot about you, Dani said once. Jean- onjean
is a message you don’t want to send. Try a pop of color.
“Do you understand what I’m saying, Anna?” Ms.
Baer- Leighton is looking at me, forehead shining in
“Yes,” I say.
She raises a fi st in the air. “Confi dence!”
I sit down at my desk, die a little.
* * *
In English Mr. Pfaff gives everyone a sheet of lined paper
and tells us to freewrite for ten minutes. It’s his favorite
thing, freewriting. Every class he makes us freewrite, and
every time my brain freezes and I can barely eke out two
sentences. Sometimes I won der if he is doing it just to torture
Today our prompt is “morning madness.” What I
really want to write is I am mad this morning because
I am being forced to freewrite, but I know this is not what
Mr. Pfaff is looking for. So I stare at my paper and think
of all the other things I could tell him.
1. I am mad this morning because I heard my father
and stepmother doing it last night and was too mortifi
ed to look them in the eye at breakfast.
2. I am mad this morning because I have to ride this
new bus and Dani’s not on it, not that she would be
sitting with me anyway, but now I have to sit with Sarabeth
3. I am mad this morning because my mom is in the
psychiatric ward, also known as the mad house. Get
Of course, there are a lot of reasons why my mo their
ended up in the hospital, most of which have nothing to do
with me. But I am the daughter. I was there and I should
have seen it coming. Because there are always signs. The
way her voice sounds, or little shifts in her behavior, like
forgetting to brush her teeth. Red flags. But in a way, I ignored
them. I’m not good with impending disaster. I’d be
the one in the middle of the tornado saying, “Don’t worry,
Dorothy and Toto. Really. It’s just a breeze.” I am the one
who, instead of writing down all the bad thoughts in my
head, will chew on my pencil and keep my paper clean.
Ten minutes later, Mr. Pfaff is looking over my shoulder,
petting his goatee. When he talks, he lowers his
voice, but it really isn’t low at all. It’s more like an announcement
to the whole class.
“You can’t think of anything to write?”
I shake my head. I can feel Dani looking at me but
stare straight ahead.
“Nothing at all?”
I sink down lower in my seat.
“Why don’t you stop by and see me after school and
we’ll talk about it?”
I nod, as though I am agreeing.
He smiles, as though he believes me.
It’s offi cial. I now hate En glish more than I hate
* * *
Since Keesha moved and Dani ditched me, I have no one
to sit with at lunch. So I have been sitting at this random
table with Sarabeth Mueller. Also Chloe Hartman
and Nicole Dodd, who are obsessed with witches, and
Shawna Wendall, who actually looks like a witch. I think
it has something to do with her eyebrows, which she
plucks bald and then draws over with black pencil
so they’re dagger- like points. Then there’s this girl who
just moved here from Texas. Her name is Reese and she
barely says a word. She has the same three things every
day without fail: sesame bagel, banana, milk. Which
would bore my taste buds practically to death, but she
doesn’t seem to mind.
Across from me, Sarabeth Mueller has a carrot in her
mouth and a pen in her hand and is scribbling away in
a spiral notebook. What ever she is writing she sure looks
jazzed about, ignoring the argument heating up between
Chloe and Nicole. Not that it’s so fascinating. I’ve never
read the Complete Book of Witchcraft, and I really don’t
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About the Author:
Natasha Friend–wearer of silly hats, lover of press-on mustaches, admirer of Gloria Steinem, devotee of well-named nail polish shades–is also an author. When she is not writing books, you will find her playing Wiffle ball, turning cartwheels, making chocolate-chip pancakes, singing, dancing, and wishing she was in a talent show. Natasha lives in Connecticut with her husband, three kids, and dog. Where You’ll Find Me is her sixth novel. Visit her online at natashafriend.com