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  • Harmless
  • Written by Dana Reinhardt
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780553494976
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  • Harmless
  • Written by Dana Reinhardt
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307485847
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List Price: $7.99


On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-307-48584-7
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books

Audio Editions

Read by Lynde Houck, Donna Rawlins and Staci Snell
On Sale: February 13, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7393-3953-4
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lies (23) high school (13) fiction (12) ya (12) young adult (9) realistic fiction (9) friendship (7) girls (6) teen fiction (5) lying (5) rape (5) family (5) consequences (4) sex (4) honesty (4)
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Best friends Emma, Anna, and Mariah are out doing something they shouldn't. They make up a story so they won't get in trouble at home. It seems like the easy way out. What happens next challenges their friendship, their community, their relationships with their families, and their sense of themselves.
Told in the voices of the three girls who must learn to live with the lies they tell, Harmless is a gripping and provocative novel full of startling turns and surprises.



This is what I know about the truth: the farther you get away from it, or it gets away from you, the harder it is to tell.

If only I had told the truth that night.

Life would have gone on. Life has gone on, but everything is different. I wish more than anything that I could go back to that night, walk in my front door, and undo everything we did.

This is the story of what really happened. This is the truth.

I knew Mariah was hanging out with a guy from the local high school. Everyone knew. That’s what it’s like when you go to a school as small as ours. I wasn’t one of the girls Mariah would peel down her turtleneck and show her hickeys to, but I’d heard about them. I’d heard they were the size of golf balls and as dark as overripe plums. I wished she would show them to me. I wished she would pull me into the bathroom and block the door with her black Converse high-top and say “Check this out” and I’d gasp and then we’d both be late to our next class. But Mariah never gave me the time of day.

It was Emma who first brought me into Mariah’s orbit. They were assigned a scene from Romeo and Juliet. They had to rehearse it and then perform it for their English class. Emma was playing Romeo because there’s a shortage of boys in our school. Maybe that’s why Mariah was hanging out with the guy from the public high school, although really, I think she was just trying to be different. To stand out. To be talked about. And probably to get away from all the boys in gray slacks and navy V-neck sweaters we’re trapped with day after day after day.

I don’t think anybody really knew what “hanging out” meant, but most of us chose to believe it meant “having sex,” and that gave Mariah even more of an edge than she already had. It’s hard to stand out in a school where everyone wears the same uniform and everyone lives in the same community and everyone’s parents work either at the college or for CompuCorp. But Mariah managed to stand out. She was pretty, but not girly. Smart, but not a teacher’s pet. Boys liked her. Girls wanted to be like her. There is no other way to say it: she was the coolest person in school, or at the very least, she was the coolest person in the freshman class.

So when Emma was assigned to be her Romeo she couldn’t stop talking about Mariah this and Mariah that. Finally she invited me to her house one afternoon when Mariah was coming over to work on their scene.

Emma’s been my best friend since third grade, when she moved here from the city. Her parents are literature professors at the college. They live only two blocks away and her older brother, Silas, was a senior who somehow managed not to look dorky in our school uniform. He wanted to go to Columbia next year and even though I knew Columbia was only an hour and fifteen minutes away by train, I still secretly hoped he wouldn’t get in.

When I got to Emma’s house, they were down in the basement, drinking lemonade and eating Oreos. They’d both changed into jeans and Mariah was wearing a tank top and right away I could see the hickeys. They looked like they ached, like if I reached my hand over and touched one, she’d wince.

I sat down in a beanbag chair and threw my backpack on the floor. My plaid skirt felt itchier than usual. Why didn’t I think to change my clothes?

“Hey, Anna Banana,” Mariah said, and she dipped her Oreo into her lemonade.

Anna Banana. It’s what my dad used to call me when I was a little kid and no matter how hard I try I can’t get him to break the habit. But for some reason, coming from Mariah, I kind of liked the way it sounded.

“What’re you doing here?” she asked.

I looked over at Emma, but she just sat there, twirling her finger in her hair and staring at her lines. “I’m always over here,” I said. The beanbag chair was disappearing beneath me. I readjusted the stuffing. “I practically live over here.”

“That’s cool. Wanna be our audience?”

“Sure,” I said.

She smiled at me. “Feel free to applaud wildly when we’re done.”

They stood up and I stayed in the beanbag. Emma was pretty good, but she seemed a little uncomfortable and stiff, and Mariah was amazing and beautiful. I could see why a guy like Romeo might kill himself over her.

After that we just sat around and talked and I got to hear firsthand about DJ and his car and his favorite leather jacket that he gave her and even about the hickeys. She said he had some really cool friends and we should all hang out sometime and I probably should have just said “No thanks” but I didn’t because she’s Mariah and I’m just plain old ordinary Anna with nothing at all to show for it.

From the Hardcover edition.
Dana Reinhardt

About Dana Reinhardt

Dana Reinhardt - Harmless

Photo © Chelsea Hadley

A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life is my first novel.

There’s nothing like the first time something wonderful happens to you, like, for example, when you sit down to write your first novel and it actually gets published.
I guess there’s nothing quite like the first time something just awful happens to you either. Those are moments you aren’t likely to forget.

So by way of introducing myself to you, let me share with you a list of my firsts:

My first love was a boy named Matthew in my pre-school class. He was very funny looking with a huge head of unruly curls, crooked teeth and rather prominent nostrils, but I loved him nonetheless. My best friend married us underneath a tree in the play yard and we used rubber bands as our wedding rings. Years later, when I arrived at college 3,000 miles away from that preschool play yard, I found him again. He had absolutely no idea who I was. That really pissed me off.

My first pet was a dog named Smokey. When he was two, he died after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

My first heartbreak was: see above.

My first earthquake was the big earthquake of 1971, or so I thought until today. I’ve carried around this story all my life about how I was such a sweet and mellow baby that I slept right through the big earthquake of 1971. But just now, when I went on the Internet to get the exact date of the big earthquake of 1971 I learned that it occurred on February 9th. I was born on March 11th. Hmmm….
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone to whom I’ve told that story about sleeping through the earthquake.

My first time crying so hard in a movie that my Dad had to carry me out of the theater was when I saw Pete’s Dragon. I cried on and off for days. It’ s happened since. Well, not the part about having to be carried out of the theater by my father. I’m too big and he’s too old and his back is too weak. But I mean the part about crying for days. (Okay so I’m a big cryer in movies. I even cried in The Nutty Professor.)

And while we’re on the subject of crying, of really, really crying…

My first big cry over a book was Bridge to Terabithia. It made me want to be a writer.

My first big cry over a play was Death of a Salesman. It made me want to be anything but a salesman.

My first time on a moped lasted about 10 seconds. I drove it right into a brick wall and broke my wrist. I was fifteen. That was also my first time on Morphine and I asked the doctor to marry me.

My first concert was The Who’s final tour in 1983. I think they’ve had at least four more final tours since then.

My first job was working as a waitress at a dive where celebrities used to come and eat breakfast in their sweatpants. Eventually, the fact that celebrities came to eat breakfast in their sweatpants caught on, and there would be a line up the block. Pretty soon the celebrities stopped wearing sweatpants to breakfast.

My first husband is Daniel Sokatch. He’s cute. And funny. And really nice. He’ll always be my first husband no matter what, but I’m counting on there not being a second. Or a third…

My first child is my daughter Noa. Sometimes after spending the day with her my face hurts from smiling so much. (My second child is my daughter Zoe and she’s every bit as wonderful as my first.)

My first time writing my own biography for Random House’s “Author Spotlight” was today.

Thanks for reading.
Praise | Awards


“Unpredictability and suspense will keep readers turning the pages. . . . They will appreciate how well the characters are developed and how . . . lies can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.”—School Library Journal


WINNER 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers

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