For Miriam Fisher, a budding poet who reads the Oxford English Dictionary for fun, seventh grade is a year etched in her memory “clear as pain.” That’s the year her older sister, Deborah, once her best buddy and fellow “alien,” bloomed like a beautiful flower and joined the high school in-crowd. That’s the year high school senior Artie Rosenberg, the “hottest guy in the drama club” and, Miriam thinks, her soul mate, comes to live with Miriam’s family. And that’s the year the popular “watermelon girls” turn up the heat in their cruel harassment of Miriam—ripping her life wide open in shocking, unexpected ways. Teased and taunted in school, Miriam is pushed toward breaking, until, in a gripping climax, she finds the inner strength to prove she’s a force to be reckoned with.This riveting first novel introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine, an outsider who dares to confront the rigid conformity of junior high, and in the process manages not only to save herself but to inspire and transform others.
Excerpt from Freak
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The only place on earth I hate as much as the lockers is the school bus. The school bus is a physical map of who’s cool and who isn’t. No one tells you where to sit. There isn’t any seating chart. But if you know who you are, you know where to go. Here’s how it works: the more popular you are, the closer you sit to the back of the bus; the more of a loser you are, the closer you sit to the front. It’s as easy as that. In the back, the kids vandalize seat covers, make out, pass notes, and throw spit wads at the front of the bus; in the front of the bus, kids read, do homework, look out the window, and try to disappear. Kids at the back of the bus are beautiful. They find each other because being seen together makes them look even better. Kids at the front of the bus know they are defective. They have pimples or glasses or crooked teeth or greasy hair. They are embarrassed to be seen.
The only thing more dangerous than being a loser with a group of popular kids behind you is being part of a group of losers all corralled together, like pathetic lambs waiting to be slaughtered. And here’s the worst part. We hate each other. We hate each other even more than the popular kids hate us. We hate each other because when we look at each other, we can see what they are laughing at.