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Sixteen-year-old girl seeks advice on how to reach out to a sister who has become distant; how to make up with my best friend, who spends every moment with her new boyfriend;how to avoid losing my job over working on Sundays; and how to figure out who has been putting love notes in my locker.
Applicants are also required to provide advice on how to handle being head-over-heels for my prom date's best friend—who happens to be the hottest guy in school.
Math tutoring a plus.
Interested persons may contact Eliza Moore.
Sound like a tall order? Well, that is what Eliza Moore is up against during her sophomore year of high school. But when her great-grandmother begins visiting Eliza in her dreams, everything starts to change. These dreams take Eliza back in time to see extraordinary women who help teach her about eight important values. As Eliza learns more about these women and the values they lived by, she discovers the courage and confidence she needs to face her challenges—and her secret admirer.
- Size: 5x8
- Pages: 350
- Published: 12/2011
About the Author
Holly J. Wood is an avid reader. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University where she pursued a degree in health science. Holly has a passion for travel and has lived briefly in Israel and Mexico. True to her name, she enjoys watching classic movies and musicals. She currently lives in Mountain Green, Utah, with her husband and two young children. Invaluable is her debut novel.
A few hours later, I walked out of my math class feeling like my head was going to explode. I did relatively well in all my classes—except math. Why did we need to take math, anyway? I couldn’t imagine myself wanting to be in any profession that would require using a calculator with mysterious functions, so what was the point?
I walked through the halls toward my locker, surrounded by bright posters on the walls announcing prom: “This Year’s Prom Theme Is ‘One Last Dance.’ Buy Your Tickets Today!” Although I thought the theme wasn’t very original, I had to admit I was excited to be going to my first prom.
Jason Sorensen had asked me to prom on the very day they announced the date for the dance. He was a junior, and we’d met in a health class last semester. He was really nice, and I was flattered that he’d asked me.
What worried me was that I suspected he might want to be more than just friends. He was always searching me out at school, and lately I’d been getting secret notes in my locker that I was pretty sure came from him. But I wasn’t sure if I liked him in that way, so I tried to keep all of our conversations casual and off the topic of dating. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, after all.
I reached my locker, and as I opened the door, a piece of paper fell on the ground. “Oh no,” I mumbled under my breath as I picked up the note and slowly unfolded it.
I just wanted to tell you that you look beautiful today. I always look forward to seeing your amazing smile.
Your Secret Admirer
I swallowed hard and shoved the note into my bag just before I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey, gorgeous, what’s up?”
I turned around to see Jason’s smiling face. “Um . . . not much. I was just on my way to lunch,” I replied, trying my best to remain composed. I wondered if he was looking for a reaction to the note.
“Cool. I was headed to the cafeteria too. Mind if I walk with you?” His green eyes looked so hopeful that I couldn’t say no.
“Not at all. How was your last class?” School was always a good, safe subject.
“Ugh, choir. Ms. Steele is really on one today. She made us sing the same line over and over until the tune was drilled into our brains. I’m gonna be humming ‘All That Jazz’ in my sleep tonight!” he moaned.
I laughed. “Yeah, that’s pretty brutal. Hopefully she’ll be in a better mood after lunch, because I have choir next.”
“Oh, you’ve got nothing to worry about. You’re one of her ‘star students,’” he said with air quotes. “You could never be on her bad side.” Jason smiled at me with an unmistakable hint of admiration in his eyes.
I felt myself start to blush, so I changed the subject.
“Thanks. So what are you gonna get for lunch today?” I attempted lamely.
Just then I caught sight of Jill and Nick waiting for me by the cafeteria doors. Nick had his arm around Jill and was whispering something in her ear while she giggled.
After taking one look at them I felt nauseated. In a moment of sheer desperation, I turned to Jason and blurted out, “Do you want to eat lunch with us?” I hadn’t even given him time to answer my first question, but I knew I couldn’t stand being the third wheel in the lovebirds’ lunch party.
Jason’s eyes lit up, and with unmasked enthusiasm he said, “Sure! I was just about to ask you the same thing.”
I smiled at him. He had no idea what a favor he was doing me. “I usually meet up with Jill and Nick too. . . . Is that cool?”
Jason glanced toward where they were standing and in his usual congenial manner he replied, “Sure.”
Jill and Nick looked up as we walked toward them, and Nick said, “Hey, Liza Lou, what took you so long today?”
I hated when he called me that.
“Sorry, Nich-o-las,” I emphasized his full name, knowing that it bothered him. “I had to drop off some books at my locker. If I’d known you were waiting, I would have walked a little slower,” I said with a smirk.
Jill glared at us. It frustrated her that her boyfriend and best friend didn’t get along. “Okay, children, that’s enough. Let’s go get in line; I’m starving!”
“Jason’s going to eat with us today,” I said as nonchalantly as possible.
Nick was already pulling Jill by the hand toward the lunch line, but she flashed a smile over her shoulder. “Cool. How’s it going, Jason?”
He smiled back. “Good, thanks!” He waved his hand in front of him, gesturing for me to go first.
He really is a nice guy. I bet he’d treat his girlfriend like a princess, I thought to myself.
I considered the sweet notes he’d left for me and how nice it felt to have someone act like you really mattered—not to mention the bonus of having a buffer between Romeo and Juliet. Maybe I’d been too hasty in deciding I didn’t want to date him.
“So have you decided what you and Eliza are going to do for a day activity for prom?” Jill’s voice snapped me out of my musings.
“Yeah, but it’s sort of a surprise.” Jason winked conspiratorially at her.
“Oh, I see.” Jill smiled at me, raising her eyebrows and signaling that she wanted to talk more about this later. She knew all too well about Jason’s interest in me and my lack of interest in him.
I pretended not to see the look and continued loading my salad bowl with everything that looked edible and—more important—low-fat. Jill followed suit and began constructing her own salad masterpiece.
Nick looked at our trays in disgust. “Come on, Jason, let’s go get some real food. These girls eat like rabbits.” Jason laughed, and they both headed for the pizza and breadsticks I’d been trying hard not to smell.
“Eliza, what is going on? Did he invite himself to eat with you or something?” Jill whispered as we left the salad bar and headed toward the cashier. We each grabbed a chocolate milk carton (our single indulgence), and I handed my cash to the old lady behind the register.
“No, actually I invited him. He wanted to walk me to the cafeteria and . . . I don’t know. . . . He’s such a sweet guy.” I felt like I was on trial.
“He is nice, and it’s obvious that he completely adores you, but I guess I’m a little surprised. You’ve never been that into redheads, and you told me that you’re not attracted to him. Did something change?” Jill stared at me quizzically, and then we both looked over to where Nick and Jason were standing.
Jason was average height, and he did have red hair, but not flaming red. Suddenly I felt a little defensive of him and tried to see him in a new light—he wasn’t that bad looking! Granted, standing next to Nick didn’t do him much justice, but I was willing to bet lots of girls thought he was cute.
I heard Jill sigh and looked over to see her gazing all dreamy-eyed at Nick.
“Oh, Jill, look at you! It’s pathetic!”
She sighed again and shrugged. “I know. I just can’t seem to help myself. He’s so perfect! I can’t believe I got so lucky.”
“No way, he’s the lucky one. You could have any guy you wanted.” I looked at Nick, and from a physical standpoint I could see why Jill was so attracted to him. He was probably about five foot ten with blond hair (which was usually half-hidden by a baseball cap), hazel eyes, and tan skin, which I knew for a fact was compliments of the local tanning salon. He was constantly working out, and consequently he was fairly muscular, which he liked to flaunt by wearing muscle shirts. So, physically, yes, I could understand why she liked him, but personality-wise, I was still mystified by her choice.
The boys finished filling their trays and made their way toward us.
“I want to eat outside today. It’s been ages since I’ve sat in the sun,” Jill said.
We all agreed and made our way through the hall to the outdoor courtyard. As we reached the door and stepped outside, I stopped short, and Jason bumped into me.
“Oh, whoops, sorry!” I apologized and immediately began blushing.
“No problem, nothing spilled. Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, um, it’s just so crowded I wasn’t sure where to sit,” I said, trying desperately to cover up the real reason I’d stopped in my tracks. Luke Matthews was sitting just two tables away from where we were standing.
No matter where I was when I saw Luke, my body always had the same reaction: I would sort of freeze and start blushing. My heart would beat wildly, and I’d have to remind myself to breathe. It was almost as if time stood still. I’d had a crush on him since the first day I’d seen him, and I could still recall that moment with perfect clarity.
It had been my first day of high school and I was a total mess of emotions: nervousness, anxiety, and, most of all, excitement. I’d planned weeks in advance what I was going to wear. Ours was a three-year high school, but despite the sophomore orientation, I still had no clue where half of my classes were.
I was walking down the hall through a sea of students looking for room 213 when I accidentally tripped on someone’s foot and landed flat on my face in the hallway.
“Oh, man, are you okay?” The words were said with sincerity by a voice so charming I had to see who’d spoken them. I looked up into a face so handsome my jaw dropped open.
A boy stood above me with his hand outstretched, and without hesitation I reached up and took it. As soon as I touched him, I felt an electric shock through my body. He pulled me up effortlessly, and I had to crane my neck to look up at him. He was at least six feet tall.
“I’m so sorry. That was totally my fault.” He was looking at me intently, and as I looked into his eyes, I felt like I was in a trance. They were a beautiful shade of deep brown with specks of gold in them. They were, without a doubt, the most incredible eyes I’d ever seen, and in that moment I felt like I could almost see into his soul. It was like an out-of-body experience, and I wanted the moment to last forever.
“Are you okay?” the boy had asked again.
“Yeah, I-I’m fine. Thanks for helping me up. I guess I wasn’t watching where I was going.” I couldn’t stop myself from staring at him as I took in every feature: the dark, wavy hair, broad shoulders, and a dimple in his left cheek when he smiled. He was smiling! At me!
“You must be a sophomore. Do you need help finding a class?” he asked kindly.
I felt relief surge through me. He was obviously not a sophomore—more likely a senior—but perhaps he wouldn’t be opposed to dating one?
“Um, yeah. I’m looking for room 213. Do you know where that is?”
“Yep, it’s up on the second floor, almost directly above where we’re standing. My class is in the opposite direction, otherwise I’d walk you there.” He gave me an apologetic smile that reached up to his eyes.
I felt like I was going to melt. “No problem, thanks for your help, uh . . .” I realized I didn’t even know his name.
“Luke. And you are?”
“Eliza Moore.” Why am I telling him my full name? What is this, some kind of business meeting? He must think I’m such a dork!
“Nice to meet you, Eliza Moore,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “I hope you have a good first day.” And then he was gone, leaving me to relive that moment over and over in my dreams from that time forward.
“Where do you guys want to sit?” Jill’s voice brought me back to reality, and I quickly started scanning the courtyard for an empty table. It seemed like everyone had had the same idea about basking in the sun.
I was about to suggest we go sit on the bleachers by the football field when Jason said, “Oh, look, there are four empty chairs over by Luke.”
He was already walking toward the table and hadn’t noticed the uncomfortable expressions on the rest of our faces. For Jason it wasn’t so bad; he was a junior and on the soccer team with Luke. The three of us, however, were just puny sophomores who would be totally out of place at a table full of seniors . . . well, almost full of seniors.
Chelsea Andrews had parked herself next to Luke and was flirting her little heart out. Everyone knew she had her sights set on Luke as her prom date, and she was pulling out all the stops. I felt a jealous rage as I watched her lean toward him using what I knew she considered to be her sexiest, most serious expression while he was talking. She would laugh at various intervals.
Chelsea had flirting down to an art. How could anyone compete with that? My heart sank, and the hurt combined with the humiliation of being forced to sit by them was almost unbearable.
“Hey, Luke, what’s up?” Jason said as he sat down at the table.
Chelsea threw Jason a smile but her eyes were full of venom. It was painfully obvious that she didn’t like us encroaching on her space.
“Hey, man, are you ready for the game today?” Luke asked. I thought I detected a hint of relief in his eyes at Jason’s interruption. Maybe Chelsea’s tactics weren’t as powerful as I imagined.
The rest of the table quieted down as everyone looked up at our arrival. I noticed a few raised eyebrows, but after it appeared that Luke approved of our presence, the conversations resumed, and Nick, Jill, and I all breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. If only I could somehow manage to tune out Chelsea’s incessant giggling.
Jason and Luke talked about soccer for a few minutes while I pretended to focus on eating. I loved listening to Luke talk. Everything about him seemed to have some magical quality. He seemed not to have even noticed me, and I wondered if he remembered my name or that day in the hall so many months ago.
By a stroke of amazing good fortune, I’d ended up having seminary with him this semester. It was my last class of the day and the one I looked forward to the most. Although Luke sat in a corner desk toward the back of the class and I sat toward the front, I still managed to glance back at him occasionally. Just being in the same room with him was special.
“So, Eliza, what are you doing tomorrow?”
I looked up at Jason from the cherry tomato I’d skewered with my fork. “Um, not much. I have to work in the afternoon. How about you? Do you have any fun weekend plans?” I was a little nervous about where this was heading.
“Well, actually, I was hoping maybe you could go out tomorrow night.” Jason was looking at me, but Luke had turned away and was pretending not to listen, and I sensed that Jill and Nick were putting on the same act. Chelsea, on the other hand, was staring at me with a smug expression and even leaned forward, waiting for my answer.
Suddenly, the area around me was very quiet. In our school, asking someone out on a date was a subject everyone was interested in.
I hated being the center of attention. I could feel my face start to get hot as I blushed. I couldn’t think clearly enough—or fast enough—to come up with an excuse, and the silence was getting a bit awkward, so finally I said, “Sure, what do you want to do?”
I could almost sense a collective sigh pass around the table. Apparently nobody wanted an uncomfortable date rejection to spoil their lunch.
“Well, a group of us were thinking about going bowling and then out for ice cream. Right, Luke?” He turned to Luke, and I felt my eyes widen in surprise. I had no idea they were that good of friends.
“Yeah, we’re getting together around seven at my place.” Luke kept his eyes on his tray and his tone was less than enthusiastic. Was he bothered that Jason had invited a sophomore?
“Oh, how fun! I love bowling!” Chelsea cooed as she batted her big blue eyes and gave Luke a stunning smile.
Jill’s snort turned into a cough. I struggled not to laugh either because I knew we were both thinking the same thing: Chelsea, bowling? I was willing to bet she’d never set foot in a bowling alley before, much less put her perfectly pedicured toes into stinky bowling shoes.
“Who are you going with, Luke?” Chelsea looked at him with feigned innocence, as though it didn’t matter one way or the other, but the hint was obvious.
Luke cleared his throat and now it was his turn to be in the spotlight. “Well, actually, I asked Whitney Dawson. Do you know her?”
“Oh, yeah, she’s really . . . nice.” Chelsea’s face fell and there was an uncomfortable shift around the table. Apparently we were going to have an uncomfortable date rejection after all.
Jill whispered in my ear, “Maybe the princess doesn’t get everything she wants after all, boo-hoo.”
I smiled and nodded, but inside I felt crushed. Luke was definitely bothered about something, and I was afraid it was me. He’d been so nice to me that day in the hall, but obviously he didn’t want to date sophomores. He was the only guy I’d ever heard of who had turned down Chelsea Andrews; most guys would give their front teeth to go on a date with her. I looked down the table at Chelsea and for a brief moment felt sorry for her; it would be so embarrassing to be rejected like that in front of everyone. She was daintily picking away at her piece of pizza and in between bites was chattering away to Luke as if the previous conversation had never happened.
Why doesn’t she just wolf down a few slices? I’m sure her perfect size two figure never changes no matter what she eats, I thought bitterly. Just then she laughed at something Luke said and tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder. Whatever pity I felt for her vanished.
I had to get out of there. I stood up and pushed my chair back with a bit more force than I meant to.
“Eliza, where are you going? The bell hasn’t even rung yet,” Jill asked. She, Nick, and Jason all looked up at me in surprise.
“I know. I just need to use the bathroom before my next class.”
“Do you want me to come with you?” Jill probed. She knew something was up, and she probably thought it was about my date with Jason. I hadn’t told anyone about my secret crush on Luke, not even Jill. I knew he was way out of my league; I didn’t need Jill to rub it in.
“No, it’s fine. I’ll see you after school.” I turned to Jason. “Thanks for eating lunch with me. I hope you have a good day.” I reached for my tray, but he grabbed it first.
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll take it back.”
“Thanks,” I said, giving him a smile. I really appreciated all the little things he did for me.
He beamed. “No problem. I’ll pick you up tomorrow around six forty-five?”
“Oh, um . . . sure.” I realized how unenthusiastic I sounded, so I tried to brighten my tone. “Sounds great. See you then!”
I started walking toward the door when I heard Nick call out, “Bye, Liza Lou!”
I froze in horror, hoping Luke hadn’t heard my nickname, but Nick was so loud I knew everyone had heard. Without turning around I said, “See ya, Nicholas,” and escaped to the hall and headed toward the solitude of the girls’ room.
My name had always been a sore spot for me. There just weren’t that many Elizas running around these days, even in Utah.
There had been a particularly bad day when I was in the third grade and some kids at school teased me, saying I had an “old lady name.” I had run home and thrown myself on my bed, crying. My mom came in and asked what happened. I sobbed to her that I hated my name. She stroked my hair and told me that I was named after my great-grandma Eliza Porter, who was one of her favorite people. Mom said she’d always hoped to have a little girl so she could name her Eliza. I could tell I had hurt her when I said I hated my name, so I’d never brought it up again, but secretly, I wished I’d been the second-born daughter so Courtney would have been stuck with the name instead of me.
I was almost to the bathroom when I noticed Keira Davis sitting on the floor with her lunch tray balanced on her lap. She had just moved here from New Jersey, and even though our school was pretty big, she definitely stood out. Her clothes might have been in style on the East Coast but here they made her look out of place. She had short, spiky blonde hair and a nose ring, which gave her an overall “stay away” vibe.
Some of the girls in my seminary class had befriended Keira when she first came to school. But after Keira expressed zero interest in going to seminary or reading the Book of Mormon, they’d dropped her like a hot tamale. Apparently, she hadn’t been the “golden investigator” they’d been hoping for.
Keira looked up at me as if sensing my thoughts, and feeling embarrassed, I quickly glanced away and made a beeline for the bathroom door.
• • •
I leaned against my car and gloried in the delicious heat radiating off it. Finally, I’d made it to the weekend! I looked at my watch again and sighed in exasperation. Why did I feel like I spent half of my life waiting for Jill? I searched in my bag for my pink flip phone, pulled it out, and sent her a text: “Where R U??” I closed my eyes as I tried to let the stresses of the day melt away.
“Taking a nap?”
I opened my eyes and frowned at Jill. “Took you long enough that I could have. Why don’t you ever reply to my texts?” I picked up my bag and walked around the car to unlock the driver’s side door.
“Sorry, it’s just so hard to say good-bye to Nick sometimes. I’ve been dying to talk to you!” She looked at me with a face full of excitement, and I smiled. It was hard to stay mad at Jill for long.
“Soooo, spill it, girl! Do you like Jason? He was so sweet to get your tray at lunch. And I bet he left you another note today, am I right?” I nodded, and she squealed in delight as she grabbed my bag and searched for the note. She unfolded it and read the words aloud, then sighed, “Oh my goodness, that is so romantic! You have to like him, Liza! If you two started dating then the four of us could double.” She was bouncing with enthusiasm, and I had to remind her to buckle up before she got us both killed.
I shrugged. “I feel like I should like him because he’s such a sweet guy, but . . . I don’t know, I just don’t feel any spark. Is that how it started with Nick?”
My borrowed shirt reappeared from the depths of Jill’s bag and she buttoned it over her tank top.
“Not really. There were definitely sparks between us right from the start. But I’ve heard a lot of people start off by just being friends. Maybe that’s the case with you two. Maybe you just need to give him a chance.”
I thought about that for a minute. I knew Jill really wanted me to have a boyfriend because she knew I felt left out, but maybe she had a point.
I sighed. “Okay, I’ll start thinking of him as boyfriend potential and see what happens.”
“Awesome! You have to call me and give me all the details after your date tomorrow—” Her phone buzzed and, as usual, she stopped midsentence to read her text. I hated when she did that; it made me feel like our conversation wasn’t as important as her ever-buzzing cell phone.
She smiled and giggled as she typed a response, and seemingly before she’d stopped typing, her phone buzzed again and the whole process started over. Some days I could ignore it and pretend like I didn’t care, but today I really wanted to talk, and I knew she would text forever if I didn’t do something.
I cleared my throat loudly and said, “Ahem . . . you were saying?”
She looked at me blankly, and then reality dawned and she said, “Oh, sorry. I was saying you have to give me all the details after your date with Jason tomorrow night. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.” Although she was talking to me, she was still texting, and I knew she was only putting half of her thought process into the conversation, so I tried for a subject that I knew would get her full attention.
“So, prom is only a few weeks away, you know. When are we going shopping for our dresses? I think I’ve finally saved enough to get a nice one.”
That did the trick. Jill put down her cell and said, “Really? That’s great! How much have you saved?”
“Exactly two hundred and forty seven dollars, and after my next paycheck I’ll have almost three hundred.”
“Eliza, that’s incredible! Your dad is gonna flip! I bet he’ll wish he never made you that promise.”
My parents insisted that I buy my own clothes, but they were a bit more understanding when it came to special occasions. Dad had promised that he would match however much money I saved for my prom dress. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when I revealed how much money I’d saved. Suddenly, I felt excited to get out there and find my dress.
“Why don’t we go tonight?” I suggested. “We could go to the mall and then see a movie or something.” I looked over at Jill hopefully, but as soon as I saw her expression, I knew she already had plans.
“Sorry, Liza, but Nick and I are going to a movie tonight.” Her face was pained. “You could totally come with us. It would be fun.” Even after all these months, she still insisted on offering me the pity invite. I wished she would stop doing that—for both our sakes.
“I thought your parents didn’t want you to go on single dates with him yet. What are you going to tell them?” I tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice, but it was hard because I knew what she was about to say.
“Oh, I’m just going to say that we’re going in a group. I’m sure my mom won’t ask you about it—but you don’t mind covering for me if she does, do you?”
Actually I do mind, I felt like snapping. Jill was fifteen and her birthday wasn’t until July, so her parents didn’t want her dating yet. They had made an exception for prom (which my parents would never have done), but I think they were a little more lenient with her because they worried that if they were too strict she would rebel.
I pulled into Jill’s driveway and struggled with the clutch before putting the car in park. She grabbed her bag and looked at me, “So, do you want to come with us tonight?” Her phone buzzed in her hand.
“No, thanks. I think I’ll just hang out at home.” I felt my stomach twist at the thought. What was worse than spending a Friday night at home alone? I missed my best friend.
“Okay, well maybe I’ll stop by and see you at work tomorrow or something. See you later!” She waved, but she was already looking down at her cell phone and typing with her free hand. I backed out of the driveway and cranked up the radio to drown out my thoughts.
• • •
As I walked through the front door, I could hear the TV blasting in the other room. Courtney must be home. It was so unfair that she left for school after I did and she still got home before me! I peeked in the family room and saw her and her friend Alexis sprawled out on the sectional, watching a music video of a girl who looked around their age wearing a miniskirt and crooning about love as she stared seductively into the camera.
I tried not to laugh. What could a girl that age possibly know about love? I glanced at Courtney and wondered for a moment if she’d ever kissed a boy. It would be so embarrassing if my little sister kissed someone before I did. She was way too young to be kissing, but she was a cute girl, and I knew at least a few of the boys in the ward had crushes on her.
I envied her blonde hair and pretty brown eyes. When we were growing up, people commented on how adorable she was, and now that she was maturing, the compliment had changed from “adorable” to “beautiful.” It was hard for me not to feel like the ugly sister sometimes, but I liked having a little sister, and for the most part, we got along pretty well despite the three years between us. With a pang of guilt, I realized I didn’t talk to her as much as I should.
When she was younger, she used to drive me crazy with wanting to talk all the time and be involved in whatever I was doing, but lately she hung out with Alexis and didn’t seem to notice me. I reasoned this probably meant she was getting older and didn’t need me like she used to. She was probably doing just fine.
I headed to the kitchen to find a low-calorie snack. With effort, I bypassed the plate of freshly baked snickerdoodles Mom had left on the counter (man, she was not making things easy for me) and settled for some saltine crackers and a glass of water. Not wanting Mom to interrogate me about my eating habits, I took my snack and trudged upstairs to my bedroom.
I grabbed the MP3 player off my nightstand, put in the earbuds, and hit “love songs” on the playlist menu. I flung myself onto my bed and absently chewed at a dry cracker while I tried to think of Jason in a romantic way. But somehow my thoughts kept straying to someone else, someone with dark hair and amazing eyes . . .
I felt a tap on my leg and looked up to see Mom mouthing words, but all I could hear was, “mm es ol ooo aa?” I pulled an earbud from my ear and said, “What did you say?”
“I said, how was school today?” She smiled and sat down on the bed next to me.
“Oh. It was okay.”
“How was choir? Did you get to practice your solo?”
“No, we practiced a different song today.” Over and over and over.
“I went to the school today and bought our tickets for the concert. Dad and I can’t wait!”
The choir concert was next Friday and Saturday night, and I was nervous about it. I had tried out for one of the few solos and had been ecstatic when I’d gotten the part, but after the initial excitement I had been filled with anxiety and wondered what I’d gotten myself into. There were few things I dreaded more than being the center of attention. What if I messed up? What if my voice cracked right into the microphone? I wished Mom hadn’t brought it up; my stomach tied itself in knots just thinking about the possibilities for humiliation.
Mom saw the expression on my face and said, “Don’t worry, Liza. You have such a beautiful voice. It’s a gift you’ve been given, and you’ll do great.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Her words actually did make me feel better.
“So, what are your plans for this evening? Jill usually comes home with you after school. Are you heading over to her house later?”
I frowned. “No, she has other plans tonight.”
Mom’s face brightened, and she said cheerfully, “Great! We don’t get to see you much on the weekends. Courtney and Alexis wanted me to take them to a movie tonight. Why don’t you come with us?”
Yeah, that’s just what I wanted to do: go to a movie with my mom and little sister on a Friday night. But what were my other options? Sit at home moping with my crackers and love songs?
“Which movie are you going to?” I asked in a noncommittal tone.
“It’s an animated film, but it’s supposed to be really good.” I shot her a disbelieving look. “Okay, it’s the only one in the theater rated PG, but it does look cute.” I knew she added this last part to head off any protests I might make. I actually liked a lot of animated movies, but to be caught going to one with your family when you were in high school was social suicide.
At the moment, though, that was a risk I was willing to take. It hadn’t been the greatest day of my life, and the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck at home, alone and bored. I sighed and said, “Okay, what time are we going?”
Mom beamed as she got up and walked to the door. “The movie starts at seven thirty, but I thought we might get something to eat beforehand. Where do you want to go eat? Piccolo’s?”
Oh, no! She’d suggested my favorite restaurant nonchalantly, but she knew it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
“Sounds great,” I said. I was defeated. When it came to those breadsticks, I was completely powerless. Mom’s face was triumphant as she waltzed out my bedroom door. I could hear her humming all the way down the hall. I had to admit it, the woman was good!
Recommended for Young Women
by Heather - reviewed on April 25, 2012
I met author Holly J Black at the Deseret Book Flagship store a couple of weeks ago and right away was impressed without even having read her book. Now having read it, I can say Invaluable is perfect for Young Women in our generation who are fighting to stay true to their values. Eliza Moore, the main heroine is a sophomore in High School who is going through the transitions many her age do- a strained relationship with her sister, balancing work and a job, figuring out just who she is and getting attention from older boys... but not the one she is hoping for. Mysterious notes start showing up in her locker from a secret admirer during the day, and at night Eliza is being visited by her grandmother in her dreams. Life is all about to change. Taking the reader through time to meet influential women in history, Invaluable teaches us that there is more to life than texting, gossip, crushes and trying to get to the top of the class the wrong way. Eliza learns to choose a better destiny than the one she is carving out by every day choices, and a long the way an unexpected surprise lands her right where she longs to be. I loved Invaluable! The plot was a little slow in some places but it progresses the characters well as they mature over the course of the school year. It's a book I would gladly pass on and wholeheartedly recommend to tweens and teens, as well as adult women. Content: Clean. Mention of the dangers of underage drinking and the consequences of teenage sexuality.
by Monica - reviewed on February 18, 2012
I loved the presentation of the Young Women Values. It reminded me of a value walk activity where the examples of others protray the values in action. I think this book is great because it brings today's situations and challenges into prospective and how it fits together with living the gospel and values.
Great book by a talented new author!
by Dana - reviewed on December 19, 2011
My teenage daughter absolutely loved this book. She said it made her want to be a better person! Just what a mom wants to hear!
by kera - reviewed on January 02, 2012
I am a mother of 5 and this book took my back to my young women days. I loved it. It has humor, it's easy to read, it has romance, it made me cry a few times, but best of all it taught Values! The main character is amazing and it's hard not to love her. I felt good when reading it, and that is hard to come by these days. =) I hope to read more from Holly J. Wood!
by Customer - reviewed on May 19, 2012
I really enjoyed this book! It was very inspiring and has helped me strive to become a better person. Thank you Holly J. Wood for writing this. :)
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