This Is the Story of You: a scene from my Jersey Shore novel

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In less than five weeks, This Is the Story of You, my Jersey Shore novel, will be released by Chronicle Books. A Junior Library Guild selection that has received two early stars, this is a mystery set in the wake of a monster storm. It's a meditation on our environment and an exploration of friendship, sisterhood, loss, and resilience.

It is, perhaps, the most urgent novel I've yet written, both in terms of themes and pacing.

On March 18, in the New York Public Library, as part of the New York City Teen Author Festival, I'll be reading from the book and talking about the perspective adults bring to the novels they write about teens in a panel gorgeously assembled by David Levithan and featuring Carolyn Mackler, Luanne Rice, and Francisco Stork. On March 20, I'll be signing early copies at New York City's iconic Books of Wonder. And on April 30, at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr, PA, I'll be doing a signing.

This morning I'm sharing this scene.

Here I should probably explain the rules, the lines in the sand, the ins and outs of Haven. We were a people shaped by extremes. Too much and too little were in our genes.

To be specific:

Too little was the size of things—the dimension of our island, the we-fit-inside-it-bank-turned-school, the quality of restaurants, the quantity of bridges.

Too much was The Season—Memorial Day through Labor Day. Vacationeers by the boatload, bikinis by the square inch, coolers by the mile, a puke-able waft of SPFs. The longest lines at night were at Dippy’s Icy Creams.

The longest lines by day circled the lighthouse. During The Season the public trash bins were volcanic eruptions, the songbirds were scarce, the deer hid where you couldn’t find them, the hamburgers were priced like mini filets mignons, and the rentable bikes streamed up, streamed down. At the Mini Amuse the Giant Wheel turned, the Alice in Wonderland teased, the dozen giraffes on the merry-go-round looked demoralized and beat. At Dusker’s Five and Dime the hermit crabs in the painted shells sold for exorbitant fees.

Whoever was up there in the little planes that dragged the advertising banners around would have looked down and seen the flopped hats, crusted towels, tippy shovels, broken castles, and bands of Frisbee fliers—Vacationeers, each one. Whoever was up there looking down would not have seen the bona fides, the Year-Rounders, the us, because we weren’t on the beach. We were too employed renting out the bikes, flipping the burgers, scooping the Dippy’s, cranking up the carousel, veering the Vacationeers out of riptides—to get out and be seen. From the age of very young we had been taught to maximize The Season, which was code for keeping the minimum wage coming, which was another way of saying that we stepped out of the way, we subserved, for the three hot months of summer.

We Year-Rounders had been babies together, toddlers together, kindergartners together, Alabasterans. We had a pact: Let the infiltrators be and watch them leave and don’t divide to conquer. We knew that what mattered most of all was us, and that we’d be there for us, and that we would not allow the outside world to actually dilute us. Like I said,we knew our water.

Six miles long.

One-half mile wide. Haven.

Go forth and conquer together.


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