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  • The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter
  • Written by Kristen Tracy
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On Sale: January 11, 2011
Pages: 288 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89738-2
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

After an unfortunate incident at the hair salon, Bessica is not allowed to see her best friend, Sylvie. That means she's going to start middle school a-l-o-n-e. Bessica feels like such a loser. She wants friends. She's just not sure how to make them.
It doesn't help that her beloved grandma is off on some crazy road trip and has zero time to listen to Bessica. Or that Bessica has a ton of homework. Or that gorgeous Noll Beck thinks she's just a kid. Or that there are some serious psycho-bullies in her classes. Bessica doesn't care about being popular. She just wants to survive—and look cute. Is that too much to ask when you're eleven?


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

I stared into the dark, cavernous hole with my best friend, Sylvie. I didn't know what had made the hole or how far down it went or if its bottom contained dangerous sludge. To be honest, neither Sylvie nor I cared that much about holes. The less we knew about this one, the better.

"I'm not sure," Sylvie said.

This was the sort of thing Sylvie Potaski always said. She wasn't the kind of person who would go down in history for leading a revolution where people burned flags or bras. She was the kind of person who would check with other people (several times) about what they thought about burning flags or bras. Some people might consider this a shortcoming. But I didn't mind it. Or that she repeatedly licked her fingers after she peeled an orange. Sylvie Potaski was my best friend.

Sylvie stopped looking into the hole and started looking at our diary again. Every page was full. This wasn't because of me. It was Sylvie. She was detail-oriented. She couldn't just write in the diary that she saw a tree. She'd tell you how green the leaves were and how brown the bark was and how much shade the tree gave and if there happened to be a bird in it. I'd read every word she wrote in our diary. And she'd read every word I wrote. Because our diary was collaborative, which meant that we each paid for half of it and we both got to use it.

Writing in it had been a lot of fun. We'd passed the diary back and forth for three years. At one point, we thought about keeping a blog instead, but then we saw a story on the news about two girls in Utah who had one, and they posted lots of pictures of their cats, and they got over one hundred thousand hits a month. Sylvie and I didn't want one hundred thousand hits a month, so we kept writing in our diary.

Except it wasn't fun anymore. Because I didn't want anybody finding what we'd written. Some of it was stupid. Actually, a ton of it was. And I regretted that. Especially the stuff I wrote in third grade about liking Kettle Harris. He turned out to be such a dork. And if I went to middle school and somebody managed to find written proof that I liked a dork, I'd be bummed for the rest of my life. And ostracized. Which was what popular kids did to dorks and people who liked dorks. It basically meant that you lived inside an imaginary trash can and that nobody talked to you.

Sylvie held our diary over the hole, but she didn't drop it. I hadn't expected this event to take all afternoon. I sighed. I wanted to go to the big irrigation canal across from my house and observe the flotsam, and then go inside and watch television, and then beg my grandmother to drive us to the mall.

"What if I lock it inside something in my bedroom?" Sylvie asked.

"That's a terrible idea," I said. "Anytime you lock something up, you're just begging for it to get stolen." That was why criminals robbed bikes from bike racks. Didn't she know that?

"Sylvie, remember the pages where we left our toe prints and then wrote poems to our toes?"

Sylvie blinked. Sylvie was always blinking.

"And remember all those awful pictures we drew of our classmates with fart bubbles near their butts?"

Sylvie nodded. Those particular drawings occurred in fourth grade. The fart bubbles had been my idea. But she was the one who sketched them.

"The diary needs to disappear. When we show up at North Teton Middle School, we can't be haunted by our pasts. We need to walk down those halls like two brand-new people."

Sylvie looked up at me and did more blinking.

"Just toss it," I said.

She hesitated.

"But what if one day when I'm old, like thirty, I want to look back at how I was feeling and thinking when I was in elementary school?"

"That will never happen," I said. "Trust me."

I wanted the diary out of my life. In addition to its being embarrassing, I thought Sylvie had grown too attached to it. Sylvie held the notebook tightly as she stared down into the hole. The ground where we stood was about to have a storage lot built on top of it for farm equipment. And after that happened, after it was covered with a thick coat of cement, after front-end loaders and tractors and hay balers were parked there, our diary would be buried forever.

"Can I keep one part that means a lot to me?" she asked.

And even though I wanted her to throw the whole thing away, I also had a soft heart. And so I said, "Okay. But it has to be ten pages or less."

Sylvie opened the diary and tugged at a group of pages in its center. After she ripped them out, she folded them carefully and put them in her back pocket.

"What did you save?" I asked.

"My drawings of the ocean," Sylvie said.

And that really surprised me. Because those drawings weren't so hot. When Sylvie finally dropped the diary into the hole, the pages fluttered in the breeze like a bird trying to fly. Except it didn't fly. The diary dropped like a rock. Lower and lower. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. It smacked against the side of the hole as it tumbled. And then the sounds ended.

"Kiss it goodbye," I said. "That thing is in China now."

I walked away from that hole in the ground, feeling like I'd solved something important.

"We're about to have the best year of our lives," I said.


From the Hardcover edition.
Kristen Tracy

About Kristen Tracy

Kristen Tracy - The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter
KRISTEN TRACY grew up in a small town in Idaho surrounded by cows. She did not think it was cool. And that's why you won't find any cows in this book. She is the acclaimed author of the middle-grade novels Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter, and Bessica Lefter Bites Back, as well as the young adult novels Lost It, Crimes of the Sarahs, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers, and Sharks & Boys.  She lives with her family in Rhode Island in a tree-lined, cowless city, where she is very happy. Visit her at kristentracy.com.


From the Hardcover edition.
Praise | Awards

Praise

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2011:
"Bessica's voice is funny, goofy, anxious, and absolutely emotionally authentic...Readers negotiating their own middle-school minefields or soaking up all the preparatory information they can find will breathlessly follow Bessica's escapades."




From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

NOMINEE Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award

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