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  • You Don't Know About Me
  • Written by Brian Meehl
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385739108
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  • You Don't Know About Me
  • Written by Brian Meehl
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375897153
  • Our Price: $9.99
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You Don't Know About Me

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Written by Brian MeehlAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Brian Meehl


List Price: $9.99


On Sale: May 10, 2011
Pages: 416 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89715-3
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Sixteen-year-old Billy Allbright is about to bust out of his sheltered cocoon and go on a gonzo road trip. He just doesn't know it yet. His ticket to freedom? A mysterious Bible containing two resurrection stories. The second is about a man Billy's never met, and who is supposedly dead: his father.
But the road to a risen-from-the-grave dad, and the unusual inheritance he promises, is far from straight. Billy zigzags across the American West in a geocaching treasure hunt. When his journey includes a runaway baseball star, nudists who perform sun dances, a girl with neon green body parts, and con artists who blackmail him into their "anti-action movie," Billy soon realizes that the path to self-discovery is mega off-road.

From the Hardcover edition.



The Facts of Me

At the beginning of last summer I had a grip on the facts of me.

* Born Charles William Allbright * August 29, 1994 * Little Rock, Arkansas * Dream: to be a champion mountain biker

I didn't stay in Little Rock long. I didn't stay anywhere long. In my almost sixteen years of life, me and Mom had moved sixteen times. Some kids get their height penciled on doorframes as they get taller. My height got marked on the old U-Haul trailer that followed us everywhere. On my eleventh birthday I shrank an inch. Then we figured out that the U-Haul tires had been pumped up. Had a laugh over that one.

I never liked moving. I was always the NIT: the Newbie In Town. Whenever I made a friend, I knew he'd never be a best buddy. Best buds are for life. We moved too much to have anything for life. Except the F-word: "faith."

Mom gave me the same pep talk whenever we moved. "Billy, God blessed you with more than the cornerstones of a house. He's given you a compass with four cardinal points." My cardinal points weren't north, south, east, west. They were Mother, Christ, Bible, homeschool. Mom said as long as I followed those points I'd never be lost. I'd walk in His Way. I'd Son-up.

When we hit a new town, the first thing we did was church-shop. It was Mom's version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." This church was too sinful. This church wasn't Spirit-filled enough. This church was juuust righteous. So we'd join it. We'd be dialed into it for a while, but sooner or later she'd find something wonky and wicked about our church. One time she stood up during Sunday service and shouted scripture: "I have hated the congregation of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked!" As she pulled me out of there I asked her what made them "evildoers." She told me I was too young to understand.

Last July, a month before turning sixteen, I totally got why we left the Assembly of Assemblies Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After we joined Assembly of Assemblies, the pastor let a company put a cell tower in the steeple. Mom had no problem with the company paying the church big bucks to have a comm tower in their steeple. But hellfire hit the fan when she found out that some of the stuff zapping through the tower was pornography. I couldn't fault her on that one. When you're in church launching prayers to heaven, you don't want them scummed by a layer of triple-X fornication. Mom calls it the "pornosphere." That's one of the cool things about being homeschooled. You learn things go-to-school kids don't. I learned about the stratosphere, the troposphere, and the pornosphere.

And that's just what happens when you start thinking about the pornosphere. It's like trail biking behind a bike bunny on a bumpy track. Her jiggly parts make you dizzy and you go blind to the real bumps. It's one of the rigid rules of mountain biking: Beware of male blindness; it leads to the kiss of dirt.

Okay, I'm jumping ahead. Back to the facts of me, and the how and why of me bombing into the world.

In the summer of 1993, when Mom was single, and still Tilda Hayes, she belonged to a fundamentalist group called the Jesus Brigade. One weekend, the J-Brigade got on one of those riverboats that go up and down the Mississippi. The boat was filled with sinful gamblers. The J-Brigade was there to witness for Christ, especially to gamblers with empty pockets and empty hearts.

While Mom was witnessing to this one gambler, his heart swung wide open. By the time she turned him from his evil ways he was not only slain by the Lord, he was slain by Tilda Hayes. After that, he joined the J-Brigade and joined Tilda at the altar. His name was Richard Allbright. He was so in love with her, and Jesus, that he quickly became a reverend. Not the kind who goes to school and gets a degree. The kind who gets a tricked-out piece of paper in the mail and starts circuit preaching in one-room churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

After they got married Tilda got pregnant. As she was belly-packing me around she said she had a real good feeling and a real bad feeling. The good feeling came from me pedaling around inside her. The bad feeling came from watching her husband's preaching star rise too fast. One day, when her bad feeling was super bad, she did one of her providence checks. She was going to find out what the Lord had in store. She shut her eyes and prayed till she felt the Spirit. She opened her Bible, finger-planted on a verse, and looked to see what God had to tell her. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Mom's heart trembled.

The next day, my father was driving home after a week on the circuit. He got caught in a hailstorm but kept hammering for Little Rock. Taking a corner, his car left the road and plunged into the Arkansas River. He tried to get out. He didn't. His spirit went to heaven. According to Mom, so much of his body went to the catfish that when they found his car there wasn't enough left of Richard Allbright to bury. He never got a grave we could visit.

I didn't even know what my father looked like. All his pictures were torched in a trailer fire when I was a baby. The fire incinerated the paper that made him a reverend too, and the family Bible recording their marriage and my birth.

But my father wasn't like one of those metal bits that chips off inside your bike frame and you can't get to; my father wasn't unobtanium. The stories Mom told me about meeting him on the riverboat and watching him preach in tiny churches put a movie in my head. She said I even looked like him. Especially my nose, a big beak of a thing. To see him all I had to do was stand in front of the mirror and age-up. I'd slick down my stick-up hair. I'd use a piece of charcoal to smear on a five o'clock shadow. I'd squint till things got blurry. And there he'd be: Reverend Richard Allbright, behind his pulpit. I'd push my voice down and preach a sermon on anything in the Bible. If there was one thing Reverend Allbright and his son knew, it was the Good Book. It was our cardinal point.

From the Hardcover edition.
Brian Meehl

About Brian Meehl

Brian Meehl - You Don't Know About Me

Photo © Bruce Ando

My adventure began in a pushing-and-shoving match with my twin brother to see who would be first in birth. He won. I pouted for six minutes before heading for daylight. Coming in second, and being the youngest of four kids, sealed my fate as a spirited showoff. I soon donned a black cape, hat, and mask and became Zorro. I was hopelessly caught in the cloak of imagination. My father reading us books like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe drew the cloak tighter.

Many writers have a defining moment when they realize they want to be a writer. I’m still waiting for mine. But I do remember a moment when I realized I had a playful expression management problem. One night, when I was six or seven, and my parents were subjecting us to the agony of listening to classical music on the radio, I lay on the floor in the dark and found myself conducting the music with facial expressions. Try it sometime, it’s fun.

The dream of becoming the first face-conductor soon faded in the exhilarating rush of sports and girls. These two pursuits satisfied my creative urges through junior high. Then, in 10th grade, I became a passionate writer. Not by choice. Having moved from Iowa to North Carolina, and having failed to kidnap my girlfriend and bring her along, I had to settle for the next best thing: writing an endless stream of love letters. A pattern was beginning to emerge–express yourself or perish from misery.

Then came the next blow that pivoted into blessing. Attending college back in the Midwest, I was too small to play football or not good enough to play any other sport. Thrashing about for some kind of outlet, who should appear but Zorro, the Ghost of Costumes Past. Raising his sword, he pointed to the theater and the dance studio. Before finishing college, I joined a theater company in Maine, barnstormed around the country for five years, then landed on Broadway in the mime and body-puppeteering show Mummenschanz. The cloak of imagination was now figurative and literal.

Joining Sesame Street as Barkley, the big sheepdog, I was soon doing various Muppet characters, including Telly Monster, the fiend of fretting. As Barkley, I bounded around China and Japan in specials with Big Bird. Work on several Jim Henson films included the chance to express myself and perish as the Dying Master in The Dark Crystal.

The downside of long hours in film and TV studios is all the downtime. Besides growing restless, I had a wife and two young daughters I was seeing too little of. So I traded life in front of the camera for life behind it. I became a children’s television writer. With that change came the writer’s greatest perk: a 20-second commute in your socks. I wrote for Eureka’s Castle, The Magic School Bus, Eyewitness, Prehistoric Planet, Cyberchase, and even went to the Balkans to write a show in Macedonia. After lugging home an Emmy for Between the Lions in 2004, my now teenage daughters said it all: “Cool.”

But every TV writer has a weakness. Mine is writing long (e.g., this bio). The cure arrived in writing my first children’s novel, Out of Patience. It gave me the chance to return to my midwestern roots, and write a story about a boy who feels trapped in his tiny hometown. It also allowed me to have fun with such notions as the first flush toilet west of the Mississippi, and the dreaded Plunger of Destiny. Obviously, such notions were in desperate need of being expressed, of finding a voice. I’m thrilled they found me.


MOST MORTIFYING MOMENT EVER: First day of third grade, teacher’s calling the roll. She calls my name, “Here.” Then she calls my brother’s name, “Here,” and she realizes, “Oh, you’re twins!” Then my brother–who hated being a twin–shouts, “No, Brian flunked a grade!”

WORST THING ABOUT GROWING UP: My family didn’t have a TV.

BEST THING ABOUT GROWING UP: My family didn’t have a TV.

MADDEST I EVER MADE A TEACHER: When I accidentally spelled “as” with two Ss.

COOLEST PLACE I EVER LIVED: In a teepee in the woods of Maine.

WEIRDEST PLACE I EVER LIVED: Where I live now, on the property where Mark Twain died. I’ll let you know if Twain’s ghost ever makes an appearance.

STRANGEST THINGS ABOUT MY NAME: It used to be Muehl (pronounced meal). Before that it was Mühl. But who wants a name with a smile button in the middle of it?

GREATEST FEAR: Getting lost in research.

GREATEST JOY: Getting lost in research.



BEST PIECE OF TOILET TRIVIA I COULDN’T WORK INTO OUT OF PATIENCE: My great-great-grandfather was a justice of the peace in Missouri in the late 1800s. After administering marital vows to a pair of newlyweds, he had a special way of reminding them of the domestic life they were about to share. He asked them to toast their marriage by drinking from a chamber pot filled with beer and a German sausage.

GREATEST AMBITION: To work that into a story someday.


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 14, 2011:
"Meehl doesn't pull any punches as his characters undergo their own journeys to freedom in this powerful, intelligent tale."

From the Hardcover edition.

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