by Catherine Stine
Blurb:Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.
Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop.
When her father is jailed, her mother ships Dorianna to her aunt’s house. Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, tired of being plain and lonely, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and offers her the beauty and fame she's dreamed of—warning her that a pledge has its downsides. Dorianna has no idea of how dire those consequences might be.
14+ due to adult situations
On the way to my new school, I catch a glimpse of my face in a shop mirror. Even though I hate mirrors, I force myself to look. No one needs to remind me I’m plain.
Leaning forward, I examine my pale skin with its tracery of blue underneath. It looks like granny spider veins. And I never smile all the way. That would expose my wonky teeth—one front tooth slightly over the other.
My hair’s limp, but it’s auburn with peachy highlights. I’ve got that going for me, at least. Lifting up a lock, I admire its warm glow in the September sun. And there’s still a hint of eagerness in my eyes––they haven’t knocked that out of me. It’s hope, whispering, “Maybe this place will be different. Maybe they won’t walk past me as if I’m floating dust.”
I’ve been here in Brooklyn for four days, shuffled away from family chaos to my Aunt Carol’s house. She’s nice so far, but I don’t really know her. It’s too bad we could never afford to fly east for family reunions. I do know she’s a fundraiser for a public radio station, and owns one floor in a brownstone. And that she eats vegetarian, and neatly folds the nubbly throws on her earth-tone Pottery Barn couch.
And she’s the sister of my screw-up father.
I’m not sorry I left Wabash. School there was a train wreck. It got so lonely, watching the reigning couples kissing their way down the halls. I wanted someone’s arms around me, too, or at least another good friend after Jen. But it wasn’t meant to be, after gossip spread that my father was sent to jail for committing moral turpitude. My mom took to her bed, and I took over. We were struck with loss and horror and shock all at once. Mom needed me last spring. I tried to help in any way I could, until she insisted that I needed a total break from the family. Or was it Mom who needed the break?
I’m going to suck it up. I am. If she needs the break, she can have it. Maybe I need one, too. I’m determined to pump myself up to face a different army of kids.
Ambling down Montague Street, past the cute boutiques, I soak in the balmy September sun and survey my new stomping grounds. These Brooklyn streets are as delicious as strawberry shortcake. The narrow shops are a wonder of necklaces, handmade with glass bits and bottle tops, and leafy bracelets fashioned from green computer chips.
The caffeine-laced scents wafting from the cyber café draw me in. As I walk by, I sneak looks at the lean, fox-quick boys with scruffy hair, low-slung belts, and tees that read Neon Pandas and Oubliettes of Onyx. Bands I’ve never heard of, since out in Hoosier Land they mostly play country music.
I smile, picturing myself talking to a slinky boy who makes me my very own playlist—he’d call it Songs for a Brooklyn Beauty. A girl can dream, right?
Turning down Court Street, a woman breezes past me in a black jumpsuit. Another dramatic beauty in thigh-high boots floats by, with two dachshunds tugging against their pink leashes. As I glance back at her, I imagine her working as a Broadway actress, dancing across a stage in those fancy boots.
Just then, one of her dogs works free of her grasp, and streaks into the street. “Hey!” I call. “Hey, pup!” I dash after it, grab the pink leather strap, and coax it back toward the curb as a bakery van careens around the corner, the driver pounding on his horn.
The booted lady runs over to me. “Thanks so much!” she says, breathless.
“Happy to help. Couldn’t let your sweet dog be hit.” Our eyes meet as I hand her the leash, and her smile touches me. I watch for another moment as she walks demurely on.
Everything here vibrates with possibility, if I block out my dread of school. It’s my chance to figure out who I want to be, which I couldn’t quite do back home. I can’t wait to let my old, stale-kernel life rot on the vine, and start over.
Reading the sign on a red colonial stone building, I sway with sudden trepidation: School. Ivy sprints up its scholarly walls, and its walkway is marked with marble planters. Each one bursts with purple chrysanthemums, as if this is the cheeriest high school ever. I’m here, no turning back. Look, you’re smart, I tell myself, you tested in and even got a scholarship here. Maybe private school kids are easier on new students. Unlikely, but I’ll give it my best.
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