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Likely Story!
Likely Story!
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Likely Story!

Written by David Van EttenAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Van Etten


· Knopf Books for Young Readers
· Trade Paperback · March 9, 2010 · $10.99 · 978-0-375-85966-3 (0-375-85966-7)


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1    

My life has been a soap opera since the day I was born.  

At the time of my arrival, my mother had been an actress (using that term loosely) on Good As Gold for almost ten years. The writers had worked her pregnancy into the story line, and when Mom started going into labor, the director kept the cameras rolling. Mom swears she didn't notice, but if you look at the episode, you can see that she's playing it up, hoping that each contraction will bring her closer to a Daytime Emmy. Luckily, the cameras weren't allowed in the delivery room. But two weeks later, Mom was back at work, on the twelve-by-twelve set that serves as every single hospital room in the fictional town of Shadow Canyon. (If you watch closely, you'll see that only the flowers change.) Immaculately made up, with the whole staff of Shadow Canyon General watching on in admiration, my mother gave birth to me for a second time. And I was there waiting, under the sheet between her legs, for Dr. Lance Singletary to reach in, lift me toward the camera, and utter with complete surprise, "It's a girl, Geneva! It'sa girl!"   This was the first time I ever appeared on TV.  

It was also the last.  

They wanted to keep me. Mom and I were on the cover of Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly. There was a crew from Entertainment Tonight taping the Good As Gold crew as they taped my second birth. Mom's fan clubs sent thousands of daisies, homemade cards (many of them addressed to Geneva), and home-knit pairs of socks. A network press release dubbed me "the Future Queen of Soapland" and said I was a "star of tomorrow." The hype was stupendous, but clearly I didn't believe my own press. On my second day of taping, I refused to stop crying--big, volcanic wails. The noise was unbearable . . . and, even worse, the way I cried made my face scrunch up. If there's one thing a soap opera will never, ever tolerate, it's a scrunched-up, uncute face, even on a sixteen-day-oldbaby.   A supermodel pair of baby twins was brought in, and I was sent home with a nanny. Four months later, Good As Gold viewers would watch as Geneva's infant daughter, Diamond, was abducted by Geneva's escaped-convict ex-lover, a former priest named Rance whohad sixteen personalities (ten of whom were battling sex addiction). When Diamond was found six months later by the lone member of Shadow Canyon's police force, she had miraculously transformed into a breast-budding twelve-year-old starlet--a fact that none of the citizens of Shadow Canyon (not even the clairvoyant ones) ever noticed.  

In the past sixteen years, Diamond has been abducted six times, has died once, has fallen in love twice with people who were later revealed to be her relatives, has had three bouts of amnesia, has been in a coma twice, has eloped once, has broken off twoengagements, has had her debutante debut ruined once by an earthquake and once by a dead best friend, has twice fallen into the hands of a coven of witches, has been locked in the trunk of a car six times, has pulled a gun on someone fourteen times, has hada gun pulled on her twenty-two times, and has had near-death experiences eight times (twice from drowning, twice in a car crash, once in a plane crash, once after being stabbed by her lover-slash-long-lost-stepbrother, once in childbirth, and once--I swea rto god--from slipping on a patch of black ice, which was later revealed to have been put there by her diabolically scheming half sister/stepmother).  

The one thing Diamond and I have in common: Neither of us knows who our father is. Everyone has a theory. Personally, I'd like a name.  

Really, it's only compared to Diamond's life that my own life seems ordinary. By most other standards, it's still pretty messed up.  

In the past sixteen years, my mother has been engaged four times, has been married three times, and has been sued for palimony twice. We have lived in eleven different places--one for each engagement and marriage, one carriage house, one apartment, one extended stay at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, and one extended stay at an "exhaustion clinic" (chosen because it had day care). I have attended six different schools, have faced off against either nineteen or twenty nannies--I've lost count--and have met at least five different men who may or may not be my father.  

It's been a lot to deal with, mostly on my own. Only two things have remained constant. The first is the way I'm treated at school. It doesn't matter which school, whether it's full of stoners or preps or aspiring actresses or nuns. They're pretty much the same once my mom's identity is revealed. I've put up with it all. "Hey, your mom is sleeping with the mayor of Shadow Canyon even though he's married to her sister!" "Hey, how'd your mom like having sex with a guy who ended up being a ghost?" "Hey, isn'tyour mom the one who was abducted by aliens and came back with a pack of dynamite strapped to her bra on a brainwashed mission to blow up the Shadow Canyon Mother-Daughter Fashion Show?"  

Yes, that's my mom.  

Uh-huh.  

You got me.  

Please stop.  

Excerpted from Likely Story! by David Van Etten Copyright © 2010 by David Van Etten. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.