so not okay

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    Chapter One

    It was a Monday. January 26, to be exact, and I like to be exact.

    I remember the date because it needs to be circled on a calen-

    dar. In red Sharpie.

    Thats because it was the first time since the start of middle

    school that Kylie Steppe actually looked at me and apparently saw

    something besides , well . . . nothing. And it changed, well . . .


    My best friend Ophelia Smith and I were leaning against the

    wall across from the office at Gold Country Middle School wait-

    ing for our other best friend Winnie George to pick up her slip to

    get into classes after being absent. The line snaked out the door

    and down the hall, like half the school had suffered from some

    kind of epidemic , and Kylie was standing in it. I figured shed

    probably been out having her nails done because she had been

    standing there inspecting them for ten minutes like Sherlock

    Holmes on a case.

    But suddenly she looked up and stared right at me. She was so

    still I wondered if she had a pulse.

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  • 2 Nancy Rue

    Ophelia noticed the look too. She hid half her face not hard

    to do when your thick yellow hair is like a curtain all the way to

    your waist and whispered, The Alpha Wolf is looking at you,

    Tori. Thats weird.

    It really was weird because Kylie hadnt shown any signs of

    noticing me since the first day of sixth grade when she started

    deciding who was cool and who wasnt. I wasnt. She couldnt

    prove it. I just wasnt.

    I was okay with that. Ophelia and Winnie and I werent even

    on Kylie and her Packs radar. Okay, I know wolves dont use

    radar. Mrs. Fickus, our English teacher, would say I was mixing

    my metaphors. The point is: we were like Saran Wrap to the Pack

    But Kylie couldnt seem to stop looking at me now. Her nose

    wrinkled like she smelled something bad, which was totally pos-

    sible in our school. Between the stinky sneakers and the kids

    who hadnt been told about deodorant yet, you were better off

    breathing through your mouth when a bunch of us sixth graders

    were crammed together in the halls.

    I was considering telling Kylie that I had looked it up and

    found out the reason boys sweat could now gag you was because

    puberty caused their sweat glands to become more active and

    secrete odor-causing chemicals, when she said, Why dont you

    get your eyebrows waxed?

    I opened my mouth to say, Hello! Because its painful! but

    Ophelia gave me a warning poke in the side. She was right. Kylie

    wasnt going to listen, so I just shrugged. My mom didnt like it

    when I did that but it usually ended conversations I didnt want

    to be in to begin with.

    But that didnt work on Kylie. Clearly, she wasnt done.

    Theyre starting to grow together in the middle. She gave

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  • So Not Okay! 3

    her splashy little dark brown haircut a toss. Youre gonna have a

    unibrow. Thats so gross.

    In front of Kylie in line her friend Heidi laughed out of her

    puggy nose. It was only a matter of time before her other friend

    Riannon would be throwing back her hair-just-like-Kylies-

    except-mouse-coloredand howlingfollowed by Izzy and

    Shelby. That was one of the dozen reasons I thought of them as a

    pack of wolves closing in on their prey.

    I was sure Kylie was going to pull hot wax out of her backpack

    and come after me with it when our principal Mrs. Yeats parted

    the kids in the doorway like she was coming through drapes and

    clapped, so hard it made the skin on her upper arms jiggle inside

    her sleeves. A hush settled over the mob because her chins were

    wobbling too. That meant the detention slips were about to come

    out of the pocket of the gold wool vest she always wore.

    If you are not waiting to get a readmit slip, she said in her

    voice like a French horn, please move out of the hallway.

    What if were waiting for someone? Heidi said.

    Wait for them someplace else.

    Mrs. Yeats jiggled back into her office and Heidi and

    Riannon stepped out of the line. But Kylie said to them, Its

    okay if you stay.

    That was the thing with the Pack. They thought the rules

    didnt apply to them and most of the time they kind of didnt.

    But they applied to us, so I nodded for Ophelia to follow me away

    from the office. Besides, I still wasnt convinced Kylie wasnt at

    least going to break out the tweezers.

    What was that about? Ophelia said as we hurried up the

    steps to our usual before-school meeting place at the end of the

    sixth grade lockers by the window.

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  • 4 Nancy Rue

    What was what about?

    That whole thing about your eyebrows.

    I have no idea, I said. I guess Kylies into eyebrows now.

    Ophelia lifted one of hers, which was so blonde you could

    hardly see it. She waxes so she thinks everybody else has to.

    To be cool. Which Im so not.

    Ophelia dropped her backpack under the window and

    looked over both shoulders. Kids were clanging their lockers and

    yelling stuff at each other so nobody was paying any attention to

    us, but Ophelia still talked with her teeth together. Why did she

    decide to pick on you?

    She wasnt really picking on me, Phee, I said. She was just

    making an observation.

    She said you were gross!

    She said I was going to be gross.

    Ophelia blinked her ginormous brown eyes at me. Id always

    wanted to measure them to see if they really were bigger than

    most peoples, or if they just looked that way because her face

    was tiny.

    She started to braid her hair so it wouldnt get caught in her

    backpack zipper like it did about eighty percent of the time. I

    just dont see why she all of a sudden noticed that about your

    eyebrows. I mean, not that they are like a unibrow . . . Im just

    sayin why you when she hasnt talked to you since

    The last day of school in fifth grade, I said and did my

    lets-change-the-subject shrug. Ophelia always had a new topic

    at the ready.

    You have to help me with that math homework. It was so



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  • So Not Okay! 5

    I tried to call you last night. Where were you?

    I was

    I was like starting to cry because I couldnt get it and you

    know my mom is no help and my dad just gets all yelly with me

    because Im such a loser in math

    Youre not

    I am! You have to help me. Please?



    I will.

    I love you!

    She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed a laugh out

    of me.

    Okay, okayjeepers.

    I love it when you say that. Ophelia pulled her now-braided

    hair up on top of her head and let it bounce down. Where did

    you get that again?

    When I had strep throat and Granna came over to stay with

    me and she had TVLand on the whole day

    And you watched all those episodes of that one show about

    the chipmunk.

    Chipmunk? It was Leave It To Beaver.

    I knew it was some cute animal.

    It was a kid! His nickname was Beaver and he said jeepers

    all the time. I liked it.I love it!

    So wheres your math homework?

    Oh, yeah.

    Ophelia unzipped her backpack, which had so many stick-

    ers on it you could hardly tell it was purple, and pawed through

    what looked like a wastebasket full of papers.

    So_Not_Okay.indd 5 11/18/13 2:56 PM

  • 6 Nancy Rue

    I hope Winnies gonna be okay, she said as she dug. Shes

    having a really hard time at her grandmothers house.

    Winnies dad had lost his job and then her family lost their

    house. After a lot of listening in on grown-ups conversations I

    figured out that losing their house meant they couldnt pay

    for it and now the bank owned it. The Georges had moved in

    with Winnies grandmother and lets just say, she wasnt like my

    Granna, who rocked grandparenthood.

    Her mom told my mom thats why they gave her a couple of

    days off from school, I said. So she could adjust.

    You guys? said a tiny voice.

    I turned in time to see Winnie in a shaft of sunlight, sagging

    against the end of the lockers.

    I dont think it worked, Ophelia said.

    She ran to Winnie and practically knocked her down hug-

    ging her. That wasnt hard to do since Winnies head only came

    up to both Phees and my shoulders and she was always so pale it

    was like you could almost see through her.

    She looked smaller than ever now and her light blue eyes

    were all puffy and red around the rims. Her hair was still wet

    from washing it so it laid against her round head like an almost-

    white cap. The only thing that wasnt pale on Winnie was her

    dark eyebrows.

    Again with the eyebrows.

    Ophelia led her to me at the window. Winnie dropped her

    backpack and burst into tears.

    Its that bad at your grandmothers? I said.

    Winnie shook her head about fifty times. Its those girls.

    What gir

    Kylie and them.

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  • So Not Okay! 7

    What did they do to you? Ophelia said.


    Did they say something evil?


    I shook my head. So youre crying because . . .

    When I came out of the office, they looked at me!

    Winnies little shoulders went up and down the w