Authors: Alison Hughes
Tags: #JUV039140, #JUV032110, #JUV039060
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Text copyright Â© 2013 Alison Hughes
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Hughes, Alison, 1966-
Poser [electronic resource] / Alison Hughes.
Issued also in print format.
68 2013Â Â Â Â Â Â
813'.6Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2013
Library of Congress Control Number
: Twelve-year-old Luke has been a model for as long as he can remember, but all he really wants to do is play hockey and eat pizza with extra cheese.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover photography by Corbis
Author photo by Barbara Heintzman
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USTER, WA USA
16Â 15Â 14Â 13Â
Â 4Â 3Â 2Â 1
For my packâMitchell, Kate, Ben
and Samâand for my parents,
Laurie and Claudette.
I probably shouldn't start this story with a rant. I probably should try to be dignified, welcome you in and let you get to know me before I start complaining. But the whole argument over the title of this book was just so typical of the kinds of hassles in my life that it's as good a place as any to begin. It was a close call, but I sort of won.
Now, you might think the title of a book is a smallish thing, just a few words to grab your attention and get you to take it off the shelf. That's what I used to think. But I've discovered that a title can actually be kind of important. In only a few words, it can cleverly summarize the whole feel of the story. Or it can suck and make you look like an idiot.
So here's the thing: Mom and Aunt Macy (especially Aunt Macy) decided that the book
to be called
. Welcome to my nightmare. “Beauty Boy” (BB for short) has been their nickname for me since I was a fat baby barely holding up my own head and drooling on the props in the infant photo shoots. I'd made the cover of
and done the Dribbleez Diapers ad campaign by the time I was eight months old. Are you impressed? I didn't think so. But let me just say that it was a big deal in the baby-modeling industry at the time.
Anyway, Aunt Macy argued long and loud for the title to be
. And believe me, nobody can argue longer and louder. She wore everybody down until we were all ready to agree to anything if she would just stop.
I think that's a technique actual torturers use.
Anyway, Aunt Macy said the title
would intrigue you, make you curious, make you want to read on. You know:
Who is this boy? What's with the beauty? What can it mean?
I told them they might as well put a
sign on me and parade me all over town. I told them kids would laugh when they saw that title. Or they would feel uncomfortable, or worse, they'd pity me. And pity isn't supposed to happen until later in the book.
Finally, the editor did something amazing. She took my side! She actually stood up to Macy. She told me I was overdoing it a bit on the pity/humiliation thing, but she agreed that
was too weird for a title. And just like that, unbelievably, I was saved. The title issue was wide open.
I wanted the title to be
True Confessions of a Serial Liar: The Life and Lies of Luke Spinelli
. That's pretty good, isn't it? Dignified. Adult. Gives you some actual info too.
Everyone said it was too many words. Actually, my Aunt Macy said, “Oh, jeez. You ever
a book? How many words you think they can fit on a little cover?” More on Macy later, although that gives you a bit of an idea of her.
So then I thought maybe something like
The Luke Spinelli Story
in very small print underneath). Short, punchy, bit of a double meaning there. That turned out to be the problem though. While I've been “framed” as in thousands and thousands of photos, I've never been “framed” as in a crime. Hey, I'm only twelve. Give me time.
Bottom line is that everybody thought
was misleading. Also, between you and me, I could see them doing some lame book cover with me in a fake striped jailbird suit, holding a frame around my face, with sort of “Aw, shucks” look on my face. I would have
Anyway, when Macy and Mom shot that one down, I tried
Slightly Out of Focus: The Luke Spinelli Story
Forcing the Smile: The Luke Spinelli Story
Say “Cheese!”: The Luke Spinelli Story
and a few others I can't remember right now. Bang, bang, bang. Shot down, every last one of them.
And then, out of the blue, the editor, who was looking very tired by this point and was possibly regretting having agreed to the whole thing, suggested
. I jumped at it. A one-word title that isn't completely embarrassing? Where's the downside? Mom agreed, and we gradually, eventually, wore Aunt Macy down. Three against one are good odds.
it is. At least you won't have to cover it up with something else when you read it.
going to read it, aren't you?
It's a good story, and it's true. Except the parts where I'm lying. But the thing is, you'll
I'm lying. True stories are pretty rare. So you can safely assume I have no superpowers and that I'm not a vampire, werewolf, extraterrestrial or ninja. There aren't any intergalactic laser battles or a frantic race to save the world from armies of killer robots.
Actually, come to think of it, maybe the truth kind of sucks.
But hey, nobody dies. I'll tell you that up front. And that's a promise. I hate books like that. They get you all attached to this character (like, say, me) and then they kill him off? Or the guy's mom or buddy or something? What's with that? Nope, nobody dies. Not even the small-part people, like the shy girl in class or the lady who runs the video store. Nobody. All living, all the time.
And another bonus: there's no heavy moral in here. No moral at all, in fact. Not even about the lying. In fact, lying saves my life many times in this story, so I'm quite a big fan of it. Anyway, it will become very,
clear to you that I'm the last person you should look to for life lessons.
So here's a quick plot summary: our story starts out with some minor cringeworthy events, morphs into a gigantic monster lie, and some more humiliation, then there's a really excruciatingly embarrassing part, and then, just when you have your fingers pressed to your mouth and think it can't get any worse...well, I won't give it all away.
I've probably said enough. Everybody says I talk too much. Although on the plus side, people also say I get less annoying the more you get to know me.
My friends mostly just tell me to shut up. So, while you're reading, you can say, “Shut
, Spin” just like they would.
Or how about this: I get annoying, and you just shut the book, count to ten, get a snack or take a break or whatever, then open it up again.
I'll be here.
I spend a lot of my life posing.
I don't mean the leaning-in-a-cool-way-against-your-locker-to-impress-the-girls kind of posing. I mean actual posing, with lights and cameras and fake smiles.
The fake “just hanging out” hands-in-the-pockets pose, the fake “point into the distance” pose, the fake “aren't we all having fun” belly-laugh pose, the fake-serious soulful look off to the side, the fake-formal hand-in-one-pocket dress-clothes pose...I could go on and on. I've done them all.
The photographers say things like, “Hey,
know, let's pretend you see something funny over there, and you're pointing it out to your friend!”
I'd rather they just said, “Hey, kid, fake-laugh and point.” We'd all get out of there a lot quicker.
But in my experience, photographers like to chat, like to feel they're having a
. Making a real
. Buddy, you're shooting a
. Somebody, maybe, will glance at it for two seconds, then shove it into a recycling bin. Get the kid models to look cute in cheap clothes. There's your creativity.
Anyway, the pose I hate the most is the one I'm doing right now. Fake-running.
It's like this: you're usually wearing cheap, no-brand athletic wear and ten-dollar runners that are
the right size, you're fake-grinning at some point ahead of you or over your shoulder, you pretend you're starting to run, and then you
. Just like that.
And you hold it for however long the photographer wants, while you get hotter and hotter and your grin gets stiffer and more fake until it's more of a grimace than a smile.
Try it. You have to balance on the one leg. No cheating.
I was at the grimacing point. Out of one fake-smiling eye, I could see the girl beside me starting to shake. That'll happen when you're new to this. It's that balance leg; it gives out on you all the time when you're just starting out.
the pose, please,” barked the photographer as the girl put her foot down for a second. The one that was supposed to be up fake-running.