Queen of Mean Amanda Beeson, 13, gets the shock of her life when she wakes up one morning to find herself in the body of one of her victims, Tracey Devon. Amanda discovers that Tracey, ignored at home and school, has the ability to become invisible. When Amanda finds herself in a special class that Tracey usually attends, it becomes clear that at Meadowbrook Middle School the definition of “gifted” has a whole other meaning. Can Amanda rescue her one-time target from obscurity and get her own life back on track? In order to do so, she will have to reveal her own startling gift and take her rightful place among Meadowbrook’s very secret clique.
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Marilyn Kaye is a former associate professor of library sciences and the best-selling author of numerous books and series, including Replica. Her book, Penelope, was recently made into a feature film starring Christina Ricci.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
First Chapter ExcerptTHERE WERE 342 STUDENTS at Meadowbrook Middle School and three lunch periods each day. This meant that during any one lunch period there could be no more than 114 students in the cafeteria the noise and commotion, however, suggested that half the population of mainland China was eating lunch together.
Students roamed the cavernous space, shouting, racing from one end to the other, knocking over chairs, banging trays own on tables. There were a couple of teachers who were supposed to be supervising the scene and maintaining order, but they couldn't stop the occasional flying meatball from that day's Spaghetti Special or the far-reaching spray from a soda bottle that had been intentionally shaken before being opened.
From her prime seat at the table, Amanda Beeson surveyed the chaotic scene with a sense of well-being. The cafeteria was noisy and messy and not very attractive, but it was part of her little kingdom-or queendom, if such a word existed. She wasn't wearing any kind of crown, of course, but she felt secure in the knowledge that in this particular hive, she was generally acknowledged as the queen bee.
On either side of her sat two princesses-Sophie Greene and Britney Teller. The three of them were about to begin their daily assessment of classmates. As always, Amanda kicked off the conversation.
“Ohmigod, check out Caroline's sweater! It's way too tight.”
“No kidding,” Sophie said. “It's like she's begging for the boys to look at her.”
“And it's not like she's got anything on top to look at,” Britney added.
Amanda looked around for more victims. “Someone should tell Shannon Fields that girls with fat knees shouldn't wear short skirts.”
“Terri Boyd has a new bad,” Britney pointed out.
“Is it a Coach?”
Amanda shook her head. “No way. It's a fake.”
“How can you tell from this far away?” Sophie wanted to know.
Amanda gave her a withering look. “Oh, puhleeze! Coach doesn't make hobo bags in that shade of green.” Spotting imitation designer good was a favorite game, and Amanda surveyed the crowd for another example. “Look at Cara Winters's sweater.”
“Juicy Couture?” Sophie wondered.
“Not. You can tell by the buttons.”
Sophie gazed at her with admiration. Amanda responded by looking pointedly at the item in Sophie's hand. “Sophie, are you actually going to eat that cupcake? I though you were on a diet.”
Sophie sighed and pushed the cupcake to the edge of her tray. Amanda turned to her other side.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” Britney asked.
“You've got a major zit coming out on your chin.”
Britney whipped a mirror out of her bag.
“It's not that big,” Sophie assured her. “No one can see it.”
“I can,” Amanda declared.
“Really?” Britney stared harder into the mirror.
Amanda thought she saw her lower lip tremble, and for a moment she almost felt sorry for her. Everyone knew that Britney was obsessed with her complexion. She was constantly searching her reflection for any evidence of an imminent breakout, she spent half her allowance on face creams, and she even saw a dermatologist once a month. Not that she really needed to give her skin all that attention. If Britney's face had been half as bad as she thought it was, she wouldn't be sitting at Amanda's table. But she was still staring into her little mirror, and now Amanda could see her eyes getting watery.
Oh, no, don't let her cry, she thought. Amanda didn't like public displays of emotion. She was always afraid that she'd get caught up in them herself.
Three more of their friends-Emma, Katie, and Nina-joined them at the table, and Britney got more reassurance on the state of her skin. Finally, Amanda gave in. “You know, I think there's a smudge on one of my contact lenses. Everybody look like they've got zits.”
Britney looked relieved, and Amanda made a mental note not to waste insults on friends. She didn't want to have to feel bad about anything she said. Feelings could be so dangerous.
Luckily, Emma brought up a new subject. “Heather Todd got a haircut.”
“From Budge Scissors,” Amanda declared, referring to a chain of cheap hair whackers.
“That's what it looks like.”
Katie giggled. “Amanda, you're terrible!”
Amanda knew this was intended as a compliment, and she accepted it by smiling graciously. Katie beamed in the aura of the smile, and Amanda decided not to mention the fact that Katie's tinted lip-gloss had smeared.
Besides, there were so many others who were more deserving of her critical attention. Like the girl who was walking toward their table right now: Tracey Devon, the dreariest girl in the eighth grade, the most pathetic creature in the entire class-maybe even in the whole school.
In Amanda's experience, in all honesty, she knew that even the most deeply flawed individuals had something of value about them. A complete social nerd might be a brain, an ugly guy could be a great athlete, and an enormously fat girl might have a nice singing voice. But Tracey Devon had absolutely nothing going for her.
She was thin-not in a top-model way, but so scrawny and bony that her elbows and knees looked abnormally large. No hips and, worse, no boobs.
She didn't shave her legs. The fact that she was blond and the hairs barely showed was beside the point. Every girl Amanda knew had started shaving her legs at the age of 11. Then there was the hair on her head-flat, stringy, and always looking in need of a wash. Her face was bland and colorless, she had no eyebrows to speak of, and her lips were so think that she looked like she didn't have a mouth either. The best anyone could say about her face was that she didn't have zits-but she had enough freckles to make up for that.
As for her clothes, forget designer stuff-Tracey's outfits went beyond terrible. Mismatched tops and bottoms, puffed-sleeve dresses that looked like they were made for five-year-olds, shoes with laces, and ankle socks. Socks!
And that wasn't all. Tracey's special and unique ickiness went way beyond the surface. She walked around with her shoulders hunched and her head bowed. She talked in whispers-people could barely hear her, and when they did, she never seemed to say anything worth hearing. It was as if she wasn't even there, wherever she was.
But as that very moment she was definitely at their table, and Amanda stiffened. “What do you want?” she demanded.
Tracey mumbled something, but the only word Amanda caught was Katie. She called to the other end of the table. “Katie, your new best friend, Tracey Devon, needs to talk to you.”
Katie's brow furrowed. “Who?”
“Tracey Devon! Are you blind? She's standing right here.”
Katie glanced vaguely at the unwelcome visitor. “Oh right. What do you want?”
Somehow, Tracey managed to make her request audible. “Could I borrow your notes from yesterday?”
Katie still looked puzzled. “Notes for what? Are you in one of my classes?”
“History,” Tracey said in a whisper.
“Oh yeah, right. Why do you need my notes?”
“I wasn't in class. I was sick.”
“Sick,” Amanda repeated. “That's interesting. I didn't know ugliness was a disease.”
It wasn't one of her best wisecracks, but it got a response from Tracey. She raised her head just high enough for Amanda and the others to see the flush that crossed her face and the tears welling up in her eyes. Then she turned and scurried away.
“I just remembered-she's borrowed my notes before,” Katie remarked.
A flicker of concern crossed Britney's face. “Is she sick a lot?”
Katie shrugged. “Who knows? I never notice if she's there or not. It's like she's one of those people you don't see.” She took a bite of her sandwich, and the others followed.
But Amanda couldn't eat. She was too-too something. Angry? Maybe. Because it was so infuriating, the way Tracey was. It was her own fault that Amanda could mock her so easily. It was as though she wanted to be picked on. She didn't make the slightest effort to improve herself, and she just took Amanda's insults without making any attempts at retaliation. There were plenty of other creepy types at Meadowbrook, but at least they stood up for themselves. Like Jenna Kelley, the girl who dressed in black and had a terrible reputation. If you accused her of being a vampire, she'd tell you where to go. Why didn't Tracey ever fight back?
Amanda's friends had gone back to eating and chatting by now. Clearly, they'd forgotten all about Tracey's interruption. They probably considered Tracey beneath their contempt, not even worth an insult. Only Amanda was still seething.
She clenched her fists. Uh-oh! This wasn't good. She could feel her face getting warm and her heartbeat quickening. Too much feeling.
“I've got to get something from my locker,” she muttered to the others. Before anyone could respond, she turned and hurried to the exit. She didn't have a hall pass, and if a monitor spotted her, she could be hauled to the principal's office, but she had to risk it.
Luckily, she was able to make it to the end of the hall and down two flights of stairs to the school basement without being caught. There was a rarely used restroom there, and she ducked into it. Splashing some water onto her face, she gripped the sides of the sink, stared into the mirror, and concentrated on pushing any sympathy, any anger-any feelings at all for Tracey Devon-out of her mind.
Do not feel sorry for her, she ordered herself. She doesn't deserve any sympathy.
Actually, Amanda wouldn't have minded if someone wanted to take pit...
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Descripción MACMILLAN CHILDRENS BOOKS, 2009. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110330510363
Descripción MACMILLAN CHILDRENS BOOKS, 2009. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0330510363