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  • Slept Away
  • Written by Julie Kraut
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  • Slept Away
  • Written by Julie Kraut
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Written by Julie KrautAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Julie Kraut


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: May 26, 2009
Pages: 320 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89270-7
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Laney Parker is a city girl through and through. For her, summertime means stepping out of her itchy gray school uniform and into a season of tanning at rooftop swimming pools, brunching at sidewalk cafes, and—as soon as the parents leave for the Hamptons—partying at her classmates’ apartments.
But this summer Laney’s mother has other plans for Laney. It’s called Camp Timber Trails and rustic doesn’t even begin to describe the un-air-conditioned log cabin nightmare. Laney is way out of her element—the in-crowd is anything but cool, popularity seems to be determined by swimming skills, and the activities seem more like boot camp than summer camp.
Splattered with tie dye fall out, stripped of her cell, and going through Diet Coke withdrawal, Laney is barely hanging on. Being declared the biggest loser of the bunk is one thing, but when she realizes her summer crush is untouchably uncrushable in the real world, she starts to wonder, can camp cool possibly translate to cool cool?
Summer camp might just turn this city girl’s world upside down!


“OK, look at that girl over there,” Kennedy directed. She pulled her Diors down her nose a bit so I could see her eyes gesturing over to a girl in a tankini lying out across the pool. “Total brownout.”

I took a peek over at the napping tankini-ed stranger.

“Brownout” is a term we coined for a girl who was totally hot because she was blond, but if you put brown hair on her, she’d just be normal to fugly. And the truth is that you can’t tell someone’s brownout status from far away. You need to get a good look at her face. But Kennedy had just recently decided to go dark and was trying to convince herself that she and Cameron Diaz were the only two women on planet

Earth who look hotter as brunettes. So I nodded, agreeing to the brownout situation across the pool, not sure if by bashing every woman who dared to look good blond in Manhattan I was enabling the rapid growth of a cancerous mega-ego or just easing a friend through a bad hair period.

“Yeah, highlights are definitely God’s gift to some women,” she said with disdain. As if three weeks ago she hadn’t been one of those plebes who enjoyed the exponential hottening factor of professionally applied peroxide.

I sighed, running my hand through my head of what I was trying to sun-bleach into auburn waves, but was really just plain brown and in a sweaty tangle. My mom thought fifteen was too young for highlights and had denied me the parental credit card for a salon trip more times than Nicole Richie has denied anorexia allegations. And after one attempted at-home highlights session left me looking streakier than the love child of Kelly Clarkson and bargain-brand glass cleaner, I realized that I was just going to have to wait for college to fully research the age-old question of whether blondes really do have more fun.

Was I seriously thinking about this? Not even a full two hours ago I was double-checking the sines and cosines on my trig final–which I dominated, thank you very much– and now I’m considering how hair color affects your general sense of amusement? It’s like after a hard-core round of studying and testing, my brain just isn’t capable of real thinking and I sink to the level of a VH1 reality show contestant for a few hours. Whatever. I definitely deserved some chill time after trig. Taking advantage of Ken’s mom’s Soho House membership for the afternoon was the perfect way to do it.

I flipped over to my stomach, smushed my cheek into my towel in a way that I knew was going to give me an acnelooking imprint when I got up, and closed my eyes for an afternoon nap. But just as I was starting to doze, I heard Kennedy yell, “Hey, bitch!” She was completely unaware of how loud she was being, thanks to whatever guyliner band she was iPoding into her ears.

“Your mom’s here?” I swear I didn’t mean for that to come out. It’s just that I was in that halfway-to-sleep level of consciousness where I have absolutely no filter. And as much as I loved Kennedy–we’ve been friends since Baby Gym, where my mom took me and her babysitter took her– her family still scared me after all these years. It’s like the Nanny Diaries family except for there’s no one playing the Laura Linney desperate housewife role. Kennedy’s parents were divorced, and both were these crazy career-driven, emotionless, would-probably-sell-their daughters-for-theirorgans-if-they-could-make-a-nice-profit human ice sculptures with dyed jet black hair in one of those super-blunt bobs with straight-across bangs. OK, that last part was just her mom. But still, her mom hadn’t warmed to me at all in the past fourteen and a half years. And I was seriously cute in grammar school. It was pretty impossible not to fall in love with my fatty cheeks, but Mrs. McEllen managed not to.

“No, my mom’s at work, duh,” Kennedy replied to my half-conscious, all subconscious comment. “Why’d you ask?” For the record, I believe that we all have different gifts. And I also believe that my best friend’s most bountiful gift wasn’t wit. But she was really good at burping the ABCs, so it all evened out. “I’m thinking that I should try and convince Conrad to have a little summer kickoff soiree. What do you think?” she asked. She dove into her bag to pull out her phone before I’d even answered.

Conrad was Kennedy’s loving boyfriend slash total dick ex, depending on the day, or on some days, depending on the hour. This had been going on since the very first weeks of freshman year, and after two years, I was pretty fed up with the Kennedy/Conrad time bomb. But she’s my best friend, so fed up or not, I had to be there with her every time she set the bomb, every time she watched that bomb tick down to zero, and every time it exploded. It’s probably what it would be like to be Britney’s personal assistant. Except I don’t get paid. Or a tell-all book deal.

“Wouldn’t a Conrad bash be awesome this weekend?” she prodded before hitting dial.

“Totally,” I said. And it would. No matter how much I hated the romantic hostage situation he was holding Kennedy in, it’s a fact that Conrad has the best parties in Manhattan. Well, the best parties for the sixteen-and-under crowd in Manhattan.

Kennedy suddenly stopped her chatter with Conrad and turned to me. “He’s totally down to play host this weekend, just needs to know which day. What do you think, Laney P., would more peeps show up tomorrow or Sunday night?”

Even the thought of a party on Sunday night was enough to induce a panic attack for me. Hello! Was I the only person left in the Manhattan private school system who had a mom who wouldn’t let her out on school nights?

My mom would flip before I could even start the curfew negotiation. And she totally wouldn’t care that we were done with finals and that all we’d be doing on Monday was watching Stand and Deliver while the teachers graded, which pretty much took the attention span of a drunk monkey. I could already hear her start in on the “fifteen-year-olds and gallivanting on Sunday nights don’t mix” tirade. To be honest, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what gallivanting was, and to be even more honest, even though I’m technically fifteen, I’m pretty much already sixteen. Everyone else in my class is, and my birthday’s in November, which is practically right around the corner. I definitely act just as mature as my friends. But somehow, bringing up the “sixteen at heart” argument never seemed like a good idea when my mom was in Mominator mode.
Julie Kraut

About Julie Kraut

Julie Kraut - Slept Away
Author Spotlight with the Authors of Hot Mess

Teens @ Random: How did a Maryland chick and an OC babe come together in Manhattan?

Julie: We got our start the same way all great relationships do–the Internet!

Shallon: It’s only slightly less sleazy than it sounds; we were the only girls writing for CollegeHumor.com in 2004. I loved her sense of humor and she admired my use of puns. And the rest is history!

Teens @ Random: What was it like writing together? Any catfights?

Shallon: Aside from one minor blow out over a semicolon, it was easy. We divided duties up like a divorced couple with joint custody. And if I don’t stop dating losers, I’ll probably end up marrying Julie, so I guess it was good practice.

Julie: Now that I’m doing some writing alone, I really miss her. I find myself inserting comments in the margins like, “Shall, how many times can you use an irritable bowel syndrome joke get before it starts triggering gag reflexes?” and then I realize I can’t ask her opinion anymore. It’s kind of sad.

Teens @ Random: How much of this book is based on your real life?

Julie: Basically everything but bagging the hot older guy. Unfortunately, that was totally from my imagination.

Shallon: Hot Mess is a thinly veiled compilation of personal experiences . . . the bad dates, the even worse breakups, and the celebrity smooches–all copy-and-pasted from my diary.

Teens @ Random: What’s your most horrible job experience?

Julie: During a particularly grueling internship, my boss came to my desk and told me she had a huge project. I was super excited until she dropped a huge binder filled with paper in front of me and said, “The paper around some of the holes is wearing thin. I need reinforcement stickers around each hole punch.” Then at lunch, I backed my mother’s Camry into a parked minivan. I’m not sure how, but I think the accident and the reinforcement sticker incident are somehow related and both are my boss’s fault. Geico didn’t seem to agree. Neither did my mother.

Shallon: In high school, I was a waitress at Johnny Rockets. One day my manager decided that the employee purses were cluttering the back room and he confiscated them all. I told him I needed my bag to take care of a certain “monthly issue.” His response? “I’ll meter out tampons to you as I see fit. Now go fry more onion rings.”

Teens @ Random: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Julie: Just put your pen to the paper (or fingers on the keyboard) and write. Starting is the hardest part.

Shallon: Write what feels true to you, not what you think people want to hear. And never wear Crocs.

Julie: Words to live by.

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