Friday, October 9, 2015


In honor of the paperback release of Tracy Manaster's amazing book You Could Be Home By Now, the wonderful people at F+W Media have allowed me to give away TWO copies of this book! 

You can read my review of You Could Be Home By Now here!


Excerpted from You Could Be Home By Now Copyright © by Tracy Manaster and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Down below, the runner veered off the path and ran through the sprinkler. She stopped, resecured her ponytail, then made for a prickly clump of succulents. She’d probably appreciate the Fixit. Everyone did (well, everyone minus one). They were funny, yeah, but they were meant to help. Look better, feel better, be better. It was as simple as that. Like Sierra said: the most noble and magnanimous Headmistress Brecken should have given her community service credit instead of summoning her parents. But no one would listen that day in la Brecken’s office. Lily wasn’t picking on anyone. She didn’t go around looking for Fixits. Girls sent in their own pictures. And she was careful. She’d listened to the bajillion assemblies on Internet predators. The policy was right there on her blog. She’d only consider photos with the heads cropped off.

Another Visiting Grandchild, a little-kid version, had appeared in the hot tub courtyard. They should exchange cards. He walked robot style, knees locked. Between the goosesteps and his bowl cut he kind of looked like a mini Hitler. He found a stick and brandished it at his reflection in the sliding glass door. He poked it at something on the ground. He tapped it against the hot tub.

Lily reached for her bag. She still had one airport magazine left. Down in his courtyard, Der Führer stood on a picnic bench and jumped.

Lily flipped through a couple of pages then tossed the stupid thing. It skidded across the roof. Mom had given her a fat stack of magazines when they’d said goodbye at airport security, like what was eating Lily alive was a dearth of articles on how to perfect your cat-eye liner. The beauty tips weren’t the point. Her blog could be about the mating cycles of fruit bats. The point was, Lily had friends. Saintblonde lived all the way in Tampa and wanted Lily’s opinion on what haircut to get. Fizzimiss was from somewhere in Arizona and if Lily didn’t ping her to let her know that she was nearby and eminently visit-worthy then she really would be as snotty and shallow as all of a sudden everyone was convinced she was.

Dad had said they weren’t real people. He’d joked about outgrowing imaginary friends.

No. The person who wasn’t a real person was her mystery classmate, Anonymous Crybaby VonFragilekins.

This time, Der Führer climbed onto the table to jump. He stuck the landing.

Lily hadn’t even had the chance to face her accuser.

Headmistress Brecken identified her as a classmate-whose-image-you-appropriated-without-her -knowledge-or-consent.

A classmate-who-you-then-held-up-for-public-ridicule. As I’m sure you’re aware, Miss Birnam, we expect better of our student citizens.

Lily hadn’t even known the girl went to Day.

She hadn’t been wearing her uniform or anything, and the image arrived in her inbox pre-cropped.

Der Führer was back on the picnic table. He made a running start.

Lily shifted, chin in her hands.

Three stupid paragraphs and boom. Goodbye, two years of work. Auf wiedersehen, au revoir, and sayonara, international following. Not to mention two weeks’ grounding and total technological confiscation.

She wasn’t mean. Ever. She had a rule. Only criticize what a girl can actually change.

And there’d been compliments in the Fixit in question.

First things first, chickie-dee: can the lace collar and the cutesy little cap sleeves. You’re not ten. Obviously. We can all see the Boob Fairy thought you were a very good girl. If you weren’t wearing a blouse like a first grader in the Thanksgiving pageant, everyone here would be dead of envy.

Second, the Boob Fairy was generous but she forgot to leave an instruction manual. Your bra strap is showing. Bonus points for purple though. Is that satin? I wish more readers had your guts.

Third, I’m worried about your necklace. Points for taking on that whole charm and bauble boho thing, but between you and me and the Internet it looks a little bit Etsy.

Lily frowned and watched Der Führer jump again, his thin arms flapping. He landed on the hot tub cover, but only barely. He toppled off, stood, wiped his palms on his shorts, and climbed right back up to try again. Talk about easily amused.

She took another swig of water.

Sierra said she was lucky. Anyone else would be suspended for sure, but nothing’s going to stick to you for long. Nothing scares the trustees like the prospect of a big fat lesbian lawsuit. Be all angel food cake and they’ll let you up again in no time. That sounded a bit optimistic to Lily, but she didn’t say so. Sierra probably felt guilty.

The Boob Fairy had been her invention. Lily’d balked about posting it but Sierra said no, it was hilarious. She even drew a cartoon Boob Fairy for Lily’s locker.

Down in the courtyard, Der Führer missed the hot tub. He landed square on his butt. A shocked, solid breath escaped.

Lily stood and checked the back of her legs for color, pressing a finger to the flesh of her calf. The white mark flared then faded. It was a hundred and eighty degrees today and, in the absence of her iPhone, terminally boring to lie out. She’d stay for ten more little Hitler jumps and then head in. The kid positioned himself and ran. He cleared the space between table and hot tub, landed, and let out a small cheer.

The ponytailed runner circled by once more.

Der Führer made another headlong start. Another perfect landing, maybe half a foot beyond the lip of the hot tub cover. She should start holding up cards, awarding points out of ten.

Or not, bearing in mind what happened the last time she made any kind of critique.

Der Führer scrambled back into position. His feet pounded down the length of the table and he hurled himself into the air. His landing was a bit off. He wobbled backward and then overcorrected.

He staggered toward the tub’s center.

Then he was gone.

The hot tub cover collapsed in a brutal V.

Every hair on Lily’s body stood straight. “Hey, kid,” she called down. Her hand went by instinct to her hip, but she didn’t have pants and didn’t have a pocket and she didn’t have a goddamn phone. The day went wonky. All the colors crisped. She’d taken the Red Cross babysitting class. A little card in her wallet said she knew CPR, but all she could recall was the dummy’s plastic lips, their red worn away in patches.

“Kid!” she called again.

She saw a small sneakered foot and pulsed with bright relief.

Then the foot twitched and she worked out the physics. If it was above water then the rest of him was under.

Her bones went hollow. She made it off the roof, and then into her grandmother’s kitchen. There was no phone anywhere. She checked the living room. The bedroom. The weird little desk alcove where she spied one beneath a sheaf of papers. That kid. That poor kid. The time she had cost him. She should have had her cell. The landline buttons sank in when she pushed them, nine then one then one. The phone was blue, with a blue tangle of cord. There was an impossible amount of wire involved in getting the signal out.

All you have to do in order to win is leave a comment below telling me why YOU should be the winner! I'll choose two people at random and announce the winner next Friday! 

**Must live in US or Canada in order to win**

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