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  • Very LeFreak
  • Written by Rachel Cohn
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375850967
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  • Very LeFreak
  • Written by Rachel Cohn
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375895524
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Very LeFreak

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Written by Rachel CohnAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rachel Cohn

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: January 12, 2010
Pages: 320 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89552-4
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Very LeFreak has a problem: she's a crazed technology addict. Very can't get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there's an chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her super-secret online crush, she's going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?

From acclaimed author Rachel Cohn comes a funny, touching, and surely recognizable story about a girl and the technology habit that threatens everything.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Happy Birthday to You, Very LeFreak

It wasn’t the fact that Starbucks did not—would not—serve Guinness with a raw egg followed by an espresso chaser that was ruining Very’s hangover. Nor was Very concerned that she had stumbled into her campus Starbucks on the morning after an overnight “study session” with the beautiful engineering major from Ghana whose name eluded her, although Very knew there were many hard consonants involved. Hey, she wasn’t even bothered that yesterday she’d been fired from her work-study “security” job checking student IDs—a feat that, contrary to her university career services advisor, was not, like, impossible to pull off—yet Very probably could be counted on later today to blow the remaining credit on her maxed-out card for primary wants like new headphones rather than for secondary needs such as food and tuition.

The fact was, Very wasn’t even technically hungover, unless a sugar coma from late-night Cap’n Crunch consumption, along with several rounds of Red Bull, qualified. It was the excessive inhale of birthday cake and cereal that had done Very in. Like the mild, fully clothed spooning session—rather, study session—with Ghana that had closed out the birthday party her dorm had thrown her, the sugar infusion had felt so comforting in the moment. It was the after that felt so empty, the Red Bulls ’n’ Cap’n fallout headache, the uncomfortable wake-up with Ghana, two strangers with stale morning breath gazing into one another’s eyes, each silently begging the other: Yo, let’s pretend this never happened?

Ghana had a girlfriend who was away for a semester abroad, and Very had no intention of getting in the way there. Her random act of intimacy hadn’t been quite as dangerous, she assured herself. It wasn’t like she’d cheated on either her real or her imagined boyfriend with Ghana. Bryan had been her best guy friend before becoming her real boyfriend, but, once their relationship had advanced to that level—when Very and Bryan were two of the only holdouts in their dorm not to go away for Spring Break—it had lasted only a day before she’d been forced to dump him. Bryan was just too good to be true: his own fault. El Virus, Very’s imagined boyfriend, he of the passionate e-mails and IMs and text messages, he who taunted her every thought and feeling by existing in the electronic ether yet who refused to appear in live, physical form before her, had suddenly dropped out of the ether; she hadn’t heard from him since what felt like an eternity (but technically, according to his last text message, since the week prior to Spring Break). The problem with an imaginary boyfriend was, if he chose not to answer her electronic missives, Very had no idea where else to find him. She had no way of knowing whether the “facts” he’d given her about himself were, in fact, true. Maybe El Virus was an engineering student at MIT in Boston; maybe he was a CIA spy on a secret mission to ferret out Al Qaeda moles stashed away on whaling ships off the coast of Nova Scotia; maybe he was an insurance appraiser in Des Moines with a wife, two kids, and a kitten afflicted with cerebral palsy and that was why he could never sacrifice his home for his happiness to leave the family for Very; or maybe he was a bored and restless hacker up in Scarsdale, possibly within breathing distance of her. God, what if El Virus turned out to be some punk thirteen-year-old with a hard-on?

“Guinness with a raw egg?” the Starbucks counter person repeated back to Very. “I don’t understand.”

Very didn’t understand, either. The concoction promised to be horrific, but her mother had sworn by this hangover remedy, and while Very had no intention of, like Cat, losing her life to chemical effects, she had to believe that her mother would most reliably have known the best chemistry for curing the after-coma.

“Just please may I have a latte.” Very sighed. “Triple shot. Whole milk.” What could ruin her kind-of hangover, she realized as she pulled her wallet from her jeans pocket, was that . . . fuck, she had no cash, and her credit card and Starbucks birthday gift cards were tucked away in her dorm room.

“Broke again?” a familiar voice from behind her in line piped in.

Very turned around. Lavinia. Very had never been so happy to see her roommate’s disapproving gaze.

“Got a fiver you can loan me, Lavinia?” Very asked Lavinia.

“Jennifer,” Lavinia said. “My name is Jennifer. Here, borrow five dollars. Again. Happy birthday to you, Very LeFreak.”

That was it! Today’s primary playlist, Very decided, would be called, simply, “Happy Birthday to You, Very LeFreak.” Very’s top personal goal, beyond mythic goals like eating more protein and vegetables or volunteering to teach mobile-electronic-communication skills to the elderly, was to make a music mix to commemorate each and every mood that should strike her. To seek spiritual enlightenment and physical well-being in life was challenging enough, but to exist within one’s soul without proper musical inspiration for each day’s quest was just plain pathetic, an existence not worth living. While some chose to write in journals or blogs to record the loves, losses, obsessions, and miscellaneous musings of their daily lives, Very chose to remember hers via music mixes, her form of daily diary.

When she died, the future biographer(s) of her Very Unextraordinary Life would only have to unarchive and research her playlists to unearth the everyday secrets of her heart and mind. Very decided this year’s commemorative b-day list would include “The Ballad of Cap’n’ Crunch” by Pirates R Us, covers of “Happy Birthday” by Loretta Lynn, New Kids on the Block, and “Weird Al” Yankovic, plus an assortment of moody boy-trouble songs TBD some Irish-pub drinking songs, and conclude with Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” (obviously).


 




From the Hardcover edition.
Rachel Cohn

About Rachel Cohn

Rachel Cohn - Very LeFreak
People often ask me why I decided to become a writer, and my answer is simple: I became a writer because I had to do something with all the voices in my head, or I’d go crazy. Fiction writing seemed the most logical—and healthy—outlet for these voices.
 
What happens is this: I’ll be walking along the street in New York City, where I live, and I will see something that piques my interest—for instance, a sign for the annual Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn. All of a sudden, there’s a fourteen-year-old girl inside my head begging, “I wanna go! I wanna go!” She’ll literally shout ideas and thoughts through my brain until not only do I have to go the Mermaid Parade, but I also have to investigate her story. Who is she, exactly? Where does she live? Who are her family? Why does she want to go to the Mermaid Parade so badly? Trying to figure her out can also cause me to almost be hit by the many people and buses whose paths I cross, because I am too busy transcribing her voice from my head into my iPhone to remember when I finally sit down to write her story that I become neglectful about watching where I’m going. Oops. Working on that.
 
A lot of people assume that the writer’s life is very glamorous, and I’m not going to lie to you. It is. I have two cats, named Bunk and McNulty, who wake me up early in the morning to be fed and played with. It turns out they also like their thoughts and feelings to be present in my books, so my working day begins immediately with some cozy fur-rubbing to ignite it. There’s no dress code for my job, so I often spend the whole day wearing jammies. I have no set lunch hour, so if I want to nibble M&Ms at my desk all day, who’s to say I can’t? And hey, if no one’s around my desk, why not blast music loudly while working, too? So there you have it, the essence of my writer’s day: characters’ (human and feline) voices in my head demanding their stories be told, while I wear PJs and eat M&Ms, to the beat of very blasted music.
 
The best part of my job? Readers like you, when I get to meet them and hear how the voices inside my head that got turned into stories that became books that someone actually read . . . and related to! In my opinion, that right there is the real glamour of my job. Though the kitties and pajamas and candy and tunes aren’t so bad, either. Just sayin’.

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