Authors: Andrea Portes
In many ways
Anatomy of a Misfit
is a promise kept.
It's based on something that happened in my real life. When I was in 9th grade, I dated a boy named Dylan. He was smart and quirky and kind. But he wasn't cool. My girlfriends made sure I knew that. They pestered me to break up with him. They called him a loser.
As pathetic as this is, at that time, in that high school... somehow I cared more about what they thought than I cared about anything.
So I broke up with him.
After the break-up, Dylan wrote me haikus and notes and poems. He would leave them in my locker. I ignored them. I felt like a horrible person but I just pretended it wasn't happening somehow.
There were a lot of things, a lot of ways people behaved during that time in my life that made me feel horrible. About which I thought
this doesn't seem right
. But those thoughts led me to wonder if I was a weirdoâa
âbecause no one else seemed particularly bothered by them or, bothered enough by them to do anything about them.
I'm ashamed to admit itâbut I stuffed those feelings down. I went along with the crowd. Not a big deal.
Until, one morning, something happened. Something so unfathomable, so random it tore open my heart.
, I thought.
everything will change.
But it didn'tâbecause like I had done before, everyone just swept the whole thing under the rug. There were no candlelight vigils, no flags flying at half-mast. Nothing. It was as if the whole town just wanted to pretend this thing never happened. They could keep it at bay, somehow. Keep it away by ignoring it.
I remember saying to myself that one day, I would make up for that. This book is my chance.
I would be lying if I didn't say that there is a huge part of me that hopes somehow Dylan will see this. That somehow he will know I told his story and mine. I had my say. I made a stand. But that kind of stuff is like bottling rainbows or seeing love. Impossible to know. But I can keep hope. I can hold it.
It means so much to me to be able to share this story through the OverDrive Big Library Read program, and I hope this story moves you in the way I intended. This is envisioned to be like a global book club, with opportunity to share what resonated with you when reading
Anatomy of a Misfit
. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #BigLibraryRead.
This is a novel based on my ninth-grade year of junior high. I wrote this story because I wish I could go back in time and give this message to myself.
edaling fast fast fast, this is the moment. One of those movie moments you never think is gonna happen to you, but then it happens to you, and now it's here.
Pedaling fast fast fast, this is my only chance to stop it. This is the place where it looks like everything is gonna go horribly wrong and there's no hope, but then because it's a movie there is hope after all and there is a surprise that changes everything and everyone breathes a sigh of relief and everybody gets to go home and feel good about themselves and maybe fall asleep in the car.
Pedaling fast fast fast, this is the moment, this is the moment I get to remember for the rest of my nights and my days and my looking at the ceiling. Over that hill and down the next, through those trees and past the school.
Pedaling fast fast fast, this is the moment, by the time I get there you can see the lights going blue, red, white, blue, red, white, blue, red, white, little circles diced up in sirens and you think you can stop it but of course you can't, how could you ever think you could?
Pedaling fast fast fast, this is the moment.
This is the moment, and it's too late.
ou're never gonna believe what happened. Okay. Let's just start from the beginning.
Logan McDonough's dad bought him a moped. That was the first thing.
Let's say Logan had showed up first thing, first day of school, tenth grade, at Pound High School, Lincoln, Nebraska, having never ever set foot here before, on his black moped, in his black mod outfit, with his black mod haircut. He woulda been a hit. Even Becky Vilhauer, aka number one most popular girl in the school, aka Darth Vader, woulda swooned.
But he had been here before, in ninth grade. When he was a nerd.
So you can see how his actions were totally illegal.
You can't just decide somewhere between May and August that you are going to change your whole identity, jump from geek to cool kid, get a jet-black haircut, peg your jet-black jeans, lose twenty pounds, and drive a Vespa. No way. That is totally against the rules and everybody knows it.
The audacity! Becky Vilhauer was not having it. I know, because she was right there next to me when he pulled up to school and you shoulda seen her jaw drop. She was
If you're wondering what I was doing standing right there next to Becky, aka the dark side of the force, it's because I am number three in the pecking order around here. I have no hope for rising above my station and I will explain why later. But number three is where I will always be and, as I am constantly reminded, I am lucky to be here.
Between number one and number three is Shelli Schroeder. Number two. She's my best friend even though she's kind of a slut. She told me something I immediately wanted to unhear and now I'm gonna tell you and you too will immediately want to unhear it. She makes out and even does the old in-and-out with the high school rockers. Like a lot. One time she told me Rusty Beck told her she has “the biggest pussy he's ever fucked.” Yup. Try to unhear that. Nosiree, you cannot. By the way, she told me this like it was a compliment. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'm pretty sure that wasn't going to get her a date to the prom.
I like Shelli but it's kinda weird how she draws on her eyeliner. She kind of just circles both her eyes so you just get these two black almonds staring at you all the time. Imploringly. There's definitely something about Shelli's look that makes you feel like you're always supposed to help her out in some way. I guess that's why those rocker guys are always helping her out of her clothes.
Okay, so the reason why I'm number three and can never even hope to dream of being number two or number one is because my dad is Romanian and looks like Count Chocula. Seriously. He looks like a vampire. Never mind that we never see him and that he lives half the time in Princeton and half the time in Romania. That doesn't matter. All that matters is that he left me with a weird last name: Dragomir. And, to seal the deal, an even weirder first name: Anika.
So, you see, there is no hope.
You try going to a school of Jennys and Sherris and Julies with a name like Anika Dragomir.
Go ahead. I dare you.
But right now, that's not the story. Right now, no one can believe how Logan drives up to the front school steps.
Like a total. Baller.
And even better, he doesn't even acknowledge Becky Vilhauer when she scoffs at him on his new moped.
“So, what? Now he's a nerd on wheels?”
And this is what's so weird about the whole thing: Even Shelli notices, which she tells me later on our endless, seriously endless, like we-should-be-put-in-child-protective-services endless, walk home from school. Logan doesn't notice what Becky says because he's not even looking at Becky. And he's not looking at Shelli, either. No, no.
Logan McDonoughânerd-ball turned goth-romance heroâis looking directly, and only, at
y the time I get home my stupid sisters are already locked in their room listening to the Stones and talking on the phone to more boys who don't like them. My brothers are in the back, probably setting fire to themselves or killing something.
In case you're wondering about the pecking order around here, it goes like this: My oldest sister, Lizzie, the leader of the pack, is the one who looks, dresses, and acts like Joan Jett and teases me endlessly for having boobs 'cause she is flat as a board, so fuck her. The second oldest is Neener, she kinda looks like Bambi and as far as I can tell her only distinguishing quality is she likes strawberries. Next up is Robby, he's the happy-go-lucky one everybody likes and never has any problems and looks all bright eyed and cute, like the Gerber baby. Then there's my other brother, Henry, who looks like Peter Brady and has been brooding ever since he was three. And then, last but not least, there's me. I'm the youngest and the one that everyone has decided is mentally deranged.
They're wrong, of course, but I don't mind letting them think that, because everyone lives in constant fear I'm going to kill myself and that's alright with me.
I bet you think I have dark hair and dark eyes and look like I listen to the Cure but you're wrong. On the outside I look like vanilla pudding so nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.
Unless they look closer.
For instanceÂ .Â .Â . Yes, there is blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin. That is true. But, you seeÂ .Â .Â . everybody around here has a button nose and I have more of a nose that looks like it got lopped off by a meat cleaver. There's another thing, tooâI have a boy jaw, like a square jaw, and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. Also, there are dark purple circles around my eyes that might be adorable if I was a raccoon. So, you see, I'm hideous. Also, there is the fact that Becky constantly calls me “immigrant.” That doesn't exactly help.
And yetÂ .Â .Â . If you don't look close enough, you would never know I'm not made of apple pie. You have to truly inspect me to see that I am obviously from a place where Vlad the Impaler is everybody's great-great-grandfather and you have to survive on one turnip a week, which you have split with your brothers and three cousins who live in the attic.