Thursday, July 19, 2012

Excerpts from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

 Hi everyone. My name is Barbara Ehrentreu and I am the author of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, a young adult book suitable for ages 10 and up. Today I am here to give you a sneak peek with excerpts from my book. 
I chose this first excerpt, because it shows how Carolyn feels about herself at the beginning of the book. Also, you get an idea of who this character is and most people who have read the book tell me they read the first chapter and couldn’t put it down.:)

     I spot him walking toward my locker with a small box in one hand and a plastic fork in the other. My Crush! He hands me the box, and I open it. Inside is a piece of luscious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I look up into his blue eyes and give him the box so I can touch his cheek as I smooth his dark hair.
     “You always know just what I like.”
     He smiles and feeds me a forkful of cake. I don’t have to worry about eating it because I can eat anything I want and not gain weight. He places the cake box in my locker so he can put his arms around me.
     The first bell rings in my ears. I ignore it because I’m thin and blonde and floating in the arms of my dark-haired crush. The other cheerleaders run up to us laughing and kidding around, and I’m about to speak. The ringing gets louder.
      The dream evaporates, and I realize it’s the darn alarm piercing my sleep. Slamming my fist onto the snooze button, I get this nagging feeling. Then I remember. I have something to do. Worse luck, I have to do it, not as the slender blonde beauty in my dream, but as the real Carolyn Samuels with my brown curly hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti, mud brown eyes, and a body too large for fashion.”
The next excerpt I chose to show Carolyn’s interactions with her friends and how she feels about Brad and Jennifer. It shows how she both envies and hates Jennifer.
      “Becky, I almost didn't come to school today.”
      “What a shock, as if you don't have this problem every year?” She gives me a smile as she reminds me and pushes away a stray lock of her long auburn hair she’s twisted in a bun close to her head. Becky is a dancer, so she wears her hair up most of the time. But the thing about her is, she doesn’t care what she wears, even though she could wear almost anything and look terrific.
      “Couldn't face my clothes.” I open my locker door. “Too bad those jeans we tried on in Norman’s made me look like a blimp.” The next words almost make me cry, so I practically whisper them. “I'll never lose weight.”
     “Carolyn, you look great. We all decided not to buy the tighter ones, remember? We wanted to breathe on the first day of school,” Becky reassures me, as she looks me up and down. She has the clearest blue eyes.
     “Guess that's why we're friends. We like the same clothes and other things,” Janie says, tosses her chestnut hair and glances toward the crowd in the hallway near our lockers.
     “By other things do you mean Brad?” Becky winks.
 “Is he here?” I look frantically in my book bag for my locker mirror and when I find it, check to see if Jennifer is there. She used to hang out with him and his crowd all last year. Jennifer Taylor, the only girl in middle school to go out with a high school guy. No Jennifer. I let out my breath.”

I decided to add one more excerpt, because it shows how Carolyn suddenly realizes there is hope her life can get better and she might be able to keep Jennifer from bullying her again.
     We get to the nurse’s office, which is as chaotic as it gets. Kids are everywhere lying on the brown fake leather beds and sitting on plastic chairs. The nurse's outfit is stained and strands of her hair are hanging over her face. There are people in kitchen staff uniforms there, too. Everyone looks kind of pale and miserable. Some are moaning. The nurse tells me to fill out a form, sit down, and wait. Jennifer gets a note back to class from the nurse's assistant. Kids are mumbling about some kind of food poisoning from the cafeteria food. I'm glad I don't eat that garbage. I live on yogurt, but it doesn't do any good. I don't lose a pound.
     “Jennifer,” I shout to stop her from walking out of the nurse's office.
     She turns around and stares at me like I'm an ant crawling on her leg. “What do you want? I have only a few minutes, and then he has to go. The coach gets angry if they're late.”
     “I'll do anything for you if you won't tell anyone about my fainting in gym this afternoon. Didn't you have enough fun with me last year?”
     She starts walking out of the door, but turns and looks at me with her steel blue eyes. “I need you to do me a favor.”
     “What do you want?” I picture eating worms or walking naked in the hallway, something totally unspeakable. I'm not ready for her next words.
     “I have to go to this ridiculous dinner party tonight with my parents, and I won't be able to get my math homework done. If you do it for me, I'll keep this quiet.”
     “You'd trust me to do your homework? Why?”
     “You’ve always done well in math, and you'll do a good job. Remember it must be here tomorrow morning before school. Otherwise I'll accidentally tell every freshman I know about today and maybe even a few juniors, too.”
     “Yes.” I did say I'd do anything.
     “We'll be even then, and I'll let everyone think you tripped. You're so easy to tease. I’ll let you go this time, but that homework is in my hands before class tomorrow or no deal. I'll meet you outside of the school. Gotta go now.”
     I exhale and realize I've been holding my breath again. Jennifer sees my face and says, “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” She laughs and walks out of the door. The nurse is really swamped, so I start helping by getting drinks for people, and then the last bell rings. I am literally saved by the bell. The nurse is too busy to see me, and I slip out of the office, get to my gym locker, and see Becky.
     “Carolyn, are you okay? I can't believe Jennifer took you to the nurse. Did the nurse see you?”
     “No, there were too many people in there. It happened from lunch. I heard someone in the nurse's office say the refrigerator got turned off during the night because of a power failure. Anyone who ate the tuna got food poisoning. Luckily, yogurt doesn't go bad for a while. You’re feeling okay, right? I grab Becky’s hands and squeeze them. Right now she is my rock. “At least it didn't happen to us. Maybe things are looking up this year.” Saying it might make it true.
You can find my book in both ebook and print here:
Also I have a blog, Barbara's Meanderings, where I host other authors and talk about things in my life. You can read the whole first chapter there too.


Rosalie Skinner said...

Hi Barbara, Carolyn's challenge is close to the heart of many kids. She's a great character.
It's good to see an excerpt where things begin to look up. Yoghurt wins over tuna any day. Now I know why!

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Thanks, Rosalie!! I thought it was time to show that things are not going to be all sad for Carolyn. She does have some hope as you know:)

Again, Congratulations on the success of your book!!! Thanks for visiting.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You probably hear this all the time, but I really AM going to buy this book. It sounds heartwrenching and just my type of story.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Thank you, Joylene! I hope you enjoy it:) Thanks for visiting.