From bestselling author Nancy Rue comes a YA contemporary novel that combines coming-of-age drama with a rom-com series of adventures as one girl deals with her complicated family and first love.
Jesse Hatcher is used to keeping everything together—from trying to manage her thoughts amidst her ADHD to helping her mom through bipolar “phases” and keeping the reality of the highs and lows—and their living situation—a secret. But when her supposedly dead father, Lou, appears and her mother becomes suicidal, her taped-together life comes undone.
Soon Jesse is placed in Lou’s temporary custody, where she has everything but control. As she works her Dad-mandated job learning to make sushi with a chef intent on torturing her, she concocts a plan to get back to her real home. But then a cute boy named Rocky and the thrill of riding his motorcycle complicate things, and the book she found seems to have all the answers she doesn’t want to hear. Torn between what her mom wants and a life she might actually enjoy, Jesse is forced to make a crazy decision.
Motorcycles, Burritos & One Strange Book:
- features a vibrant and witty protagonist dealing with the realities of a divided family and mental illness
- is a Christy award-winning novel that explores the ideas of self-worth and empowerment
- provides an inspirational message for those dealing with tough circumstances
- is the first book in the Real Life series
About the Author
Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband, Jim, have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange BookREAL LIFE
By NANCY RUE
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 Nancy Rue
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI guess my life was crazy even before the day it really lost its mind. I just didn't think it was.
I did think my friend Chelsea's life was a little weird. Her parents had been married to each other for twenty years and her family sat down at the table to eat supper together every night. They always had dishes like broccoli and cheese casserole or green beans à la mode. Or something.
I definitely considered my friend Marcus's life to be strange. His family went on a two-week vacation every single summer to places like Key West and the Grand Canyon. The day my world went insane, he was off with his parents and his little sister in California where they were staying in hotels and eating in restaurants that had tablecloths. Totally off the wall.
Okay, so I need to get to the point, which as you'll see I sometimes have trouble doing. I was like that even before that Saturday morning in late June-or was it early July? Doesn't matter. It was summer, so there was no reason to keep track of what month it was. At least not until August, when it would be time to think about going back to school. I tried not to.
It was going along like any other day in the life of Jessie Hatcher-that would be me. I wascleaning the house, sort of, and watching "I Love Lucy" reruns on TV Land-now there was a wacko, that Lucy woman-and talking to Chelsea on the phone. And she, as usual, was giving me grief.
"I wish you'd get a cell phone," she said.
"What's wrong with a land line?" I said, although I knew. We'd had this conversation before. I always pretended to forget.
"What's wrong with it is that you can't text on it."
"Why do I need to text? We're talking."
"No, you're whispering. I can hardly hear you. It's like you're in a library."
"Or a bank," I said. "Why do people always whisper in banks? Are they afraid somebody will find out how much money they have? Or don't have?"
"I don't know!"
I could imagine Chelsea raking her hand through that ginormous head of butter-blonde hair. She has enough for thirty-seven people. I barely have enough for me, which is probably good because it's bright red. The kind of red that makes people stare at you like you're Raggedy Ann come to life. So the less of it the better.
"Why are you whispering anyway?" Chelsea said.
I shifted the phone to my other shoulder so I could lift the corner of the dining room rug and slide a pile of crumbs under it with my foot. I'd already put the Swiffer away. Not that my mother would have noticed anyway. Those crumbs must have been there awhile, because the last time we ate in the dining room was probably four years ago on my eleventh birthday.
"I'm whispering because my mom's asleep," I said.
"At one in the afternoon? Oh, I forgot she works at night."
That wasn't exactly true. Okay, it wasn't true at all, but I must have led Chelsea to believe it at some point. I tried not to out-and-out lie. Usually.
"See, it would be so much easier to have a conversation if you could text," Chelsea said. "I'm totally getting you a cell phone for your birthday."
"Oh no-the whole thing's overflowing. I knew that was going to happen."
"What's overflowing? What are you doing, anyway?"
"I'm watching Lucy."
I changed which ear was on the phone again and used my forearm to shove all the random stuff on top of the buffet into the drawer and craned my neck again to see the TV in the family room. Lucy and Ethel were knee deep in suds pouring out of an industrial-sized washing machine. Speaking of which ...
I darted for the laundry room.
"Lucy Ricardo," I said.
"Who? Never mind. I need to talk to you about Marcus."
Good. A safe topic. I hated it when Chelsea went off about text messaging. I couldn't have done it if I had an iPhone in my hand at that very moment. Not so anybody could understand it, anyway. Writing of any kind wasn't one of my talents. Actually, I hadn't really discovered any talents-
"Are you serious about him?" she said.
"You know what I mean."
Chelsea's voice dipped into that rich place where only the most delicious news can dwell. I knew her huge brown eyes were bubbling like chocolate fudge. My blue ones were so small compared to hers, I always imagined myself looking cross-eyed when I was around her. I looked in the round glass on the front of the washing machine. Okay, not exactly cross-eyed. But definitely too close together. My nose didn't help.
"Did you hear me?"
"What?" I said.
"I just think that for as long as you and Marcus have been together, it's time to either get serious or move on."
"Uh-hello-you know I don't do 'serious.'" I picked up a hunk of clothes out of the dirty clothes hamper and dumped them into the washer. "I want to be able to flirt with whoever I want. Aw, man, we're out of detergent. Can you use dish soap in a washing machine, I wonder?"
"Huh," Chelsea said.
"Is that 'huh, yes' or 'huh, you're an idiot' or 'huh, I don't know'?"
"Okay, could you focus for like ten seconds?"
That would be about it, yeah.
I heard Chelsea sigh like she was practicing to be a parent. "Before Marcus left for California, he told me he was getting ready to ask you to go out seriously. Would your mom let you?"
I stopped with the thing of dish soap in my hand and considered that. Right now Mom might, since she was going through one of her In-Bed Phases. Actually, she might have let me take her credit cards and go to Acapulco if I'd asked her during an In-Bed Phase. Which I didn't, because I never knew when she'd emerge from her dark-as-a-movie-theatre bedroom and go into one of her No-Bed Phases, where she polished the doorknobs and put the spices in alphabetical order. During her last No-Bed Phase, during which she didn't sleep for seventy-two hours, she "housecleaned" my room and found that letter from the school that said I needed to repeat ninth grade English, and the note from Adam Ackerson telling me he wanted to take me out as soon as he got his license in two years, and that other letter addressed to "Jessica Hatcher" that I got in the mail from somebody in Florida but never opened because it looked official and I was sure I wouldn't be able to figure out what it was talking about anyway.
Fortunately that was all just a few hours before Mom returned to her bedroom. Most of the time I wondered which was better, the In-Bed Phases or the No-Bed Phases-but in situations like that, when she was too busy sleeping to call the school or Adam Ackerson's mother or whoever the stiff-looking letter was from, I had to go with the In-Bed Phase. I might have to clean the house, sort of, and do the laundry when I ran out of underwear, but it was better than having my space invaded and my CD collection arranged by album color.
"So would she?" Chelsea said.
"Would who what?"
"Would your mom let you date Marcus?"
"I don't know!" I said.
"Do you want to get serious with him?"
"Do I have to make a commitment this minute?" I squirted some dish soap into the washer.
"No," Chelsea said. I could picture her folding her arms like the guidance counselor who was constantly calling me into her office. "So what are you gonna tell him when he asks you? He's so going to when he gets back. Tonight."
I heard a door click down the hall, and I shut the door on the washer and tiptoed through the kitchen to peek. Mom was just crossing into the guest room, half-blonde-half-roots hair falling out of that attempt-at-a-bun thing she did when she was about to spend a week with the covers over her head. She squinted as she shuffled through the doorway. The sun was coming down on the west side of the house, which meant cracks of light were breaking in around the edges of the shades in the bedroom she'd just vacated. She was moving to darker territory.
Which put her closer to where I was. I padded to the back door and stepped out onto the porch, immediately scorching my bare feet on the blinding-white decking. It was hotter than the surface of the sun back there, so I slid down into the only corner where there was shade and let my feet stick out into the Alabama sunlight. My legs were as white as the floorboards, and they kind of reminded me of the skin on the chickens Mom had made two gallons of broth from during her last No-Bed Phase. I'd never figured out what she was going to do with all that juice so I'd stuck it, pot and all, into the freezer.
"I wish I could get a tan," I said.
"Could we puh-leeze get back to Marcus?" Chelsea said.
"There's nothing to get back to. He's my best guy friend. Period."
"Then what about Adam Ackerson?"
"Why are you all over my love life today?"
Silence. Which meant she was about to drop some bomb on me. As long as it wasn't, "You're too weird for me to hang out with anymore," I was okay with a bomb. It was better than discussing my mother and why I didn't text message and why I couldn't stick to one topic of conversation. Chelsea was my best girl friend, but I already knew what happened when somebody else figured out that my normal wasn't the same as their normal. "Because why?" I said.
"Okay, I wasn't keeping this from you. I was just trying to figure out the best way to tell you."
Tell me what?" I watched a spider swing on the tiniest thread from one porch rail to the other. I really did try to stay with Chelsea, but-had I taken my medication that morning?
"I'm just going to come out with it," Chelsea said. "Donovan and I are going out."
"Going out where?"
"Going out. He's my boyfriend. It's a serious relationship."
"Aren't you upset?"
"Why would I be? He's an okay guy. I think his teeth are kinda weird, but who am I to talk? Mine are like Bugs Bunny." No, I had definitely not taken my meds. Later. Right now I toughed out the hot decking and stretched so I could prop my feet on the porch railing, just a few inches from the spider web. It would be cool if she would attach her web to my big toe. Not that I could sit still that long ...
"I like his teeth, but that's not the point," Chelsea said. "The point is, now that we're together, I'm going to be spending a lot of time with him."
"And not with me, chasing guys and getting them to chase us," I said. "I get it."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are, I can tell."
"Because you're pretending you're not."
At the risk of waking my mother, I laughed out loud. The spider skittered up the pole and out of sight.
"What's so funny?" Chelsea said.
"Since when did I ever pretend not to be mad?"
Chelsea giggled. "Oh, yeah, huh?"
I didn't add that I pretended a lot of things, but that wasn't one of them. It was one of the curses of being a redhead. So people told me. Mostly the people I went off on.
"So you're really not mad that I won't get to spend as much time with you?" she said. "I know it's bad timing with Marcus being gone too."
The phone beeped its Call Waiting signal, and I could have kissed it. Maybe she'd get off the whole Marcus thing while I found out who it was.
"I'll call you back," I said, and punched the button. "Hello?"
"Is this Jessica?" a man's voice said.
"This is Jessie," I said. I got an automatic burst of bad energy up my back. Nobody ever called me Jessica except substitute teachers when they were taking roll. Or people who were about to tell me I was in trouble. Again.
"I'm sorry." The guy took in such a huge breath I wondered if he was locked in a walk-in refrigerator and was running out of air.
The big inhale turned into an even longer exhale. Okay, so maybe he was trying to sell me a yoga course.
"Well, Jessie," he said. "This is your father."
I froze, there in the cooking heat on the porch, and I forgot about spiders and Chelsea and Marcus and Lucy and Ethel. I tried to funnel what focus I had on that voice on the phone.
Because I didn't have a father.
Okay, so, weird. Very weird. My father died before I was even born. Were we talking psycho here? The man would have to be to want to be my father.
I stood up and shook my feet so the pant legs of my shorts would straighten out. "Sorry," I said. "I think you have the wrong number."
"You're not Jessica-Jessie Hatcher? Brooke Hatcher's daughter?"
"Yeah," I said-and only then remembered that you're not supposed to give out personal information to strangers over the phone. Or was that the Internet?
"Then I have the right number," he said.
It occurred to me that he sounded kind of nervous. Weren't psychos usually pretty jittery? In movies they always showed them sweating and pacing when they were holding people hostage in a bank vault.
"You didn't get a letter from me, Jessie?" he said.
"You sent me a letter?" Did that mean he had my address too? Now I was starting to sweat and pace.
"A couple of weeks ago. From St. Augustine."
"Where's St. Augustine?" I said.
"St. Augustine, Florida."
"Oh," I said. "That St. Augustine."
I could feel the perspiration running down between my shoulder blades, but I couldn't seem to get it together to go back into the air-conditioned house. I just stood there in the middle of the frying porch and saw the letter Mom had confiscated from my room wiggling in my memory the way the hot pavement ahead does when you're going down the road.
"Maybe we should start over," the man who claimed to be my father said. "If you didn't get the letter, I could see how this would catch you off guard."
"Ya think?" I said. "I got a letter but I didn't open it."
"That would make sense then."
Uh, no, none of this made sense.
"I'm Lou Kennesaw. Apparently your mom has never talked to you about me."
I added the psycho-pacing to the psycho-sweating. "No," I said. "I mean, yes, she told me about Lou Kennesaw, but you died before you could marry her. You're dead."
There was a silence so long I thought he'd hung up-which was fine with me because I was ready to unzip my skin and jump out of it. I even had my finger on the End button when he said-in a voice like that spider web I was toeing earlier as if I didn't have a problem in the world-"Jessie, I'm so sorry you were told that, but I am very much alive and I thought it was time I met you. If I'd known you thought I was dead, I never would have called you like this."
"Okay, so let's pretend you never did," I said.
I didn't mean to say it, but like most things I haven't meant to say in my life, it just came out. I called that a Blurt.
"I don't think we can do that," he said.
"Maybe you can't, but me, I'm great at pretending. Lou who? A wrong number, you say?"
"I know this is a lot to take in, so I'm going to let you soak it up a little-but I would like to see you."
He was actually sounding fatherly. Not that I'd had much experience with having a father. Okay, I'd had exactly none. Except my grandfather, who I hadn't seen much since he married that woman Mom didn't like, which was before I even started wearing a bra so he didn't count. But I'd heard Chelsea's dad say stuff like, "I would like for you to clean your room," in a way that sounded like she'd better do it or she was going to be placed under house arrest. This Lou person had that sound down. I always wondered why Chelsea went right up and cleaned her room instead of telling the man how stupid it was to tidy up a space you were only going to trash again an hour later. Until now.
But this dude was not my parent. I only had one parent, and even she-
Might come in handy at that moment.
"I'd have to ask my mom," I said.
"Well, of course. I didn't mean I was going to come by in the next ten minutes."
"Don't come by," I said. "Call. No, I'll call you. After I ask her. Which could be tomorrow, maybe Monday, depending on-"
I chomped down on my lip. When it came to certain subjects I did have some control over my mouth. But it never lasted long, and once again I had my finger on the button that could end this call so I could go back to arguing with Chelsea about Marcus and wondering how I was going to wash clothes without laundry detergent.
Excerpted from Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by NANCY RUE Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Rue. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nancy Rue has started a great new series here. It may be for young adults but not too young. This first book deals with ADHD, bipolar disorder, parental suicide and much, much more. The second book dives into dating abuse (older boyfriend beating up his younger girlfriend) and takes it all the way through the trial. Heavy issues, but very well written. Great characters and realistic scenarios. For young people in high school and college these books are very appropriate, but I think it'll be awhile before my 14 year old, homeschooled daughter will be reading them. I am a huge sushi fan and found the insight into the sushi restaurant fascinating. In the second book Nancy gives us a great insight into surfing - that was also very interesting.
I enjoyed this book alot and it is probably my favorite out of the RL Series. Definitley a must read
Review by Jill Williamson Fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher has a system to deal with her with her mom’s bipolar disorder and her own ADHD—until her father shows up. Her dead father. Apparently, mom told a little lie. And on the day her dad comes to meet her, mom ends up in the hospital. And now Jesse’s only relative is her dad, who lives in Florida, far away from all her friends. So Jesse goes, but she isn’t staying, even when she starts to like her job at the local sushi restaurant, the cute guy who works at the bike shop, and the mysterious book she “stole” from the airport. Loved it! And let me just say, I could relate to Jessie’s randomness and mood swings. This is a really fun story about a girl who is searching. She’s had to depend on herself for so long that it’s hard for her to trust anyone. But her dad isn’t like her mom at all. It’s weird for Jesse to have an adult who cares. The writing is funny and thoughtful. The characters are fabulous, real, and struggling like the rest of us. I flew through the book and hope I’ll be able to read all the books in this series. Highly recommended.
i am going to try to read this book. could u tell me how it is lol
This book I can definitely relate to because I am just like Jessie...except I have not been diagnosed with ADHD. But maybe I should be.lol....nervous laughter.But She is the same as me because we try to get away from people, always trying to just leave the room (without really,physically leaving it).Her friends are always trying to get her to get into a relationship with a guy, but she doesn't want to!!!She just lives with people who don't seem to care.And she thinks it's fine like that until her so-called dead dad comes to meet her.Her mom is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and she has to go to Florida to live with Lou(her "dead" dad.She meets a kid named Rocky and him and Jessie "seem" to be like Fire and Ice towards each other. But they learn to just "be".And soon they start to fall....AWWWW. They are sooooo super cute.I love Rocky!!! I would sooooo date him!!!