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Authors: Laurel Snyder

Seven Stories Up

BOOK: Seven Stories Up
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Bigger than a Bread Box
Penny Dreadful
Any Which Wall
Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2014 by Laurel Snyder
Jacket art and interior illustrations copyright © 2014 by Tim Jessell

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Snyder, Laurel.
Seven stories up / Laurel Snyder. — First edition.
pages cm.
Summary: In 1987, while her mother sits in a Baltimore hotel at the deathbed of a grandmother twelve-year-old Annie never knew, Annie travels back fifty years and shares adventures with the lonely girl who will grow up to be her feisty grandmother.
ISBN 978-0-375-86917-4 (trade) — ISBN 978-0-375-96917-1 (lib.bdg.) —
ISBN 978-0-375-89999-7 (ebook)
[1. Space and time—Fiction. 2. Grandmothers—Fiction. 3. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Hotels, motels, etc.—Fiction. 5. Baltimore (Md.)—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.N43777Sev 2014 [Fic]—dc23 2013005020

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, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.


You’re supposed to cry when your grandma is dying. You’re supposed to be really sad. But as Mom and I sped through the dark streets of Baltimore, I couldn’t stop bouncing in my seat. At last I stuck my head out the window and leaned into the muggy night. My hair whipped around. The sharp rush of air felt good on my face.

I’d always wondered about my grandmother. That might sound funny, but Mom didn’t talk about her family at all. If I asked a question, even for a school project, she’d find a way to change the topic. She’d suddenly decide
that she had to pay the bills “pronto,” or she’d remember that
was on TV “right this very minute.”

If I kept pushing, she’d make her sad face and say something like, “Kiddo, let’s leave that story in the past, where it can’t cause trouble.” I never understood what exactly the trouble might be, but I didn’t like to see Mom unhappy, so I’d learned to invent my own stories. Like in the first grade, when I told Mrs. Johnson that my mom was an orphan princess from Idaho. She’d made me build a diorama about it, in a shoe box. That was how I learned that Idaho is a mountainous region bordering Canada, full of colorful gems and potatoes.

Idaho aside, here’s what I knew:

1. My mom grew up in Baltimore but left for college in Atlanta.

2. Her dad had been dead a long time, but her mother was still alive.

3. She had aunts somewhere, who sent big glittery Christmas cards each year.

I also knew that my dad had skipped out on us in 1975, right after I was born, but that was different. Mom didn’t mind talking about
. She said she couldn’t be
too mad, even though he was kind of a louse, because without him she wouldn’t have me, and I was her very best thing in the world.

We did have one lonely Polaroid of my grandmother in our scrapbook. I was a chubby baby in the picture, and my grandmother, in gray curls and an ugly plaid pantsuit, held me out stiffly to the camera with both hands. She looked afraid she might drop me.

I’d stared at that photo for hours, memorizing her clothes and posture, the paisley wallpaper in the back-ground. I knew her name was Mary. That was all I’d ever expected to know.

Until now! Now I was in a strange city at midnight, racing toward her deathbed. Her
? It was like a scene from a movie. If only I could stop imagining her gasping her last breath in a pantsuit.

I pulled my head in the window again and tried to comb my wind-snarled hair with my fingers. Mom had turned the radio on and Michael Jackson was singing softly. I watched the city rush by, row houses lining each street. Everything narrow and brick. As we went over a bridge, I saw boats rocking gently in a harbor. I sneezed at a strong scent of—was it
? Weird.

Without realizing it, I’d started to chew my thumbnail. I could feel the ragged needle of a hangnail with my
tongue. I yanked it off with my front teeth, winced, and jammed my hand in the pocket of my jean shorts.

BOOK: Seven Stories Up
12.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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