Playing the role of a knight in shining armor is more complicated than it seems in the storybooks, as sixteen-year-old Joy discovers when she repeatedly comes to the rescue of a fifteen-year-old human. But when she meddles in the girl’s social life, Starra sends her packing. Starra is determined to completely dissociate herself from the subterranean creature that has manipulated her life and cast her into the limelight. However, her resolve is soon tested when she becomes involved in a critical situation where supernatural assistance can enable her to carry out a daring plot. Eventually, Starra’s involvement with her new other-wordly friends extracts a heavy price when she is beset by challenges that range from the down- to-earth struggles of a typical teenage student, to the realm of the fantastic. Nothing prepares her, however, for the ultimate challenge.
Last night, in Senior Elder’s weekly address, he said it had come to his attention that many of our teens were planning to pop in to the fivetoe gala event. While he admitted there was nothing wrong, per se, in hanging around, he advised staying away from the action, as we might be tempted to join in.
He reminded us that ever since a deviant group of our ancestors wreaked too much mischief two thousand years ago, we’ve been banned from communicating or associating with fivetoes.
Tag kicked me under the table. But I don’t carry a speck of guilt. If I hadn’t sidestepped some bans, my sister would be lonesome, and a fivetoe girl would have been shamed on the playing field, knocked senseless by an attacker, and fallen off a cliff.
The same fivetoe high school freshman wouldn’t have landed the lead role in our island’s biggest production of the decade if not for my intervention.
In approximately ninety minutes I know Starra will receive a standing ovation from the audience now filling every available seat. The bleachers are packed, and latecomers are taking the seats set up on the high school’s athletics' field. It looks like the majority of the islanders are here, and then there all the hundreds of mainlanders who came in to support this fundraising event tonight. Starra’s talent will be publicly acknowledged at last. I see fame in her future. All thanks to me.
Not that I expect any thanks from her.
No, the star of the show wouldn’t even want me here tonight, but tough luck. I’m not about to miss out on the vicarious pleasure of basking in her spotlight.
I’ve squeezed myself into a spot suited for a VIP. I’ll be almost right under Starra’s nose — whoops, that’s a problem; she’ll pick up my scent and know I’m here. The girl is a bloodhound. She’s the only fivetoe that can sense my presence. What the faulty
fivetoe sense of sight can’t do, her uncanny sense of smell makes up for.
Okay, the trick is to get a seat close enough to the stage to sense the emotions of those on stage, but not close enough for her to smell me. That spot a couple rows down will do it. As I settle in between two fighting brothers, I catch sight of some of my schoolmates hanging around. It’s already dark out, but still it’s early for our community to be up and around. Looks like the island’s teenagers from down below are willing to forego some snooze time just to see for themselves what the big fuss above us these past few months has been all about.
There’s still time till the curtain goes up. Meanwhile, the school band entertains the audience as they get settled. I catch some of the girls in my high school clamping their hands to their ears. Yeah, I get it. Even our kindergarteners banging on rocks produce finer music than fivetoe amateur musicians. But it doesn’t bother me as much as them since lately I’ve spent so much time hanging around fivetoe teens.
Two seniors to my far left are communicating in sign language, which is the safest way to talk around fivetoes. I’m eavesdropping on their gossip, and they’ve just reached a juicy climax, when out of nowhere a particularly tall fivetoe blocks my view. He turns around and takes his seat. My view is not obstructed anymore, but I lose interest in the gossip as soon as I catch sight of the intruder’s face. What’s Luc doing here? True, he’s a native islander, but he hardly has shown his face around here since he started college. And the last time we saw him, he was trouble. Then again, I have him to thank for getting me addicted to playing fairy godmother. His face is a trigger to my memory, and my mind replays my history with Starra.
Yeah, we’ve had our rough spots, but tonight makes up for it all. I’m positive in a few minutes she’s going to knock the socks off her fellow islanders fivetoed feet.
The curtains are going up.
This is it, people. Meet the real Starra Hart.
Loren Secretts was raised in a book-filled home, in a sleepy east coast suburb of the US. These factors are undoubtedly responsible for her early design of a number of exciting imaginary worlds that she could escape to from time to time during her childhood. In her teen years, between schoolwork and lending an ear to her friends, Loren had less opportunity to go AWOL. Instead, her experience as a confidant to others inspired her to major in psychology in college and earn her M.A. in the field on the west coast. As an adult, Loren has found fulfillment in her work with children and families for more than a decade. Her passion for writing was revived when she discovered that she enjoyed delving into the human psyche to write psychological reports. But clients' reports are safe with Loren, who guards secrets fastidiously. Indeed, one of her aspirations is to work as a psychotherapist for the CIA, but since she now lives with her family in Canada, that dream will have to await its turn…
PLEASE WELCOME LOREN TO BOOKHOUNDS YA
1. What is the first book you remember reading by yourself as a child?
Funny that you ask. Whenever I’m requested to name the title of my favorite book (it's unfair to expect a bibliophile to answer that one), I say Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. I have a vivid memory of my elated state when I finished reading it. My mother was on the phone with my father, and I was so excited to share the news that I was now a reader!
2. What are you reading right now?
I’m not reading at the moment, but I did stay up until this morning reading two books in a YA dystopian trilogy that I wouldn’t recommend.
3. How does your garden grow?
With no thanks to me. I kill it all off, but at least I attempt to minimize the damage I wreck on the world's foliage by refusing to let others buy me flowers.
4. What is the last thing you Googled?
I have a policy against googling people, but I broke it to research William Goldman. I was reading The Princess Bride and after that introduction, I had to discover what was really up with the guy.
The sound of bananas squishing in people’s mouths. I promise, my fingers were cramping as I typed that line. Ugh.
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