Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 68,000
When sixteen-year-old Elliott punched the mayor’s son, she wasn’t “twitching” — her word for the jerks, grunts, and other fun little compulsions that are part of her Tourette’s syndrome. She wasn’t trying to spark a political scandal, either. She just wanted the guy to quit teasing her.
But in Elliott’s Pacific Northwest beach town during the image-obsessed mayor’s reelection, everything is political. Her parents, big-time donors to the campaign, drag her to rallies to suck up to the mayor’s family. Her only escape is spending nights on the beach with cute gamer Drew, who doesn’t think Tourette’s makes her a freak.
Elliott’s perfectly fine leading the Apathetic party — until vandals strike the homes of the mayor’s opposition. Add the mayor’s plan to revamp Elliott and Drew’s favorite historical site as an outlet mall, and Elliott’s fully on board with a rival candidate who wants to preserve the town’s history. Risking her family’s trust is tricky enough. Getting others to take her protest seriously, twitches and all? That’s a race she can’t stand to lose.
For three seconds after my fist slams into Bryce Skinner’s jaw, I feel like a psycho killer in a cheap horror flick. The kind where the blood is obviously ketchup and the popular jocks are the first to get their heads chainsawed off.
I think I even grin a little.
But once I hear the collective tap-tap-tap of fingers on keyboards — texts zipping from my second period to the rest of school — my adrenaline turns to panic. I can’t get suspended for this again. And Bryce’s blood definitely isn’t ketchup. I freeze, even though every cell in my body screams to scrub my hands a thousand times immediately.
“What the hell, Elliott?” Bryce says, spitting something small and white and blood-covered onto his binder. Oh no. “You knocked out one of my teeth!”
I grip a desk with my non-stinging hand as my stomach fights cereal up-chuck.
“I’m not exactly the tooth fairy,” I say, hoping he won’t notice my voice shaking, “but I might have some quarters in my pocket.”
A few kids hide laughs in their sleeves, but Bryce turns beet. Ms. Lopez hurries down the aisle without pausing the French Revolution documentary no one’s watching anymore.
“Elliott, what on earth made you do that?” she asks.
Bryce’s insult tumbles around in my skull. No way am I repeating it. My cheeks warm, and a familiar sensation builds in my neck. A tightness. Like my insides itch, and there’s only one way to scratch.
No. Not now. Please.