Authors: Jenny B. Jones
“Fresh, relevant, and snappy,
The Big Picture
deals with tough real-life issues. Jones beautifully balances the serious with witty humor and some of the most memorable characters in fiction today. By the book’s end, you’ll be clamoring for more Jenny B. Jones. I certainly am!”
— C. J. DARLINGTON, cofounder and book editor; TitleTrakk.com
Also by Jenny B. Jones:
In Between (Act 1)
On the Loose (Act 2)
the big picture
jenney b. jones
For free catalog
of NavPress books & Bible studies call
1-800-366-7788 (USA) or 1-800-839-4769 (Canada).
© 2008 by Jennifer Jones
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from NavPress, P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935.
NAVPRESS and the NAVPRESS logo are registered trademarks of NavPress. Absence of ® in connection with marks of NavPress or other parties does not indicate an absence of registration of those marks.
Cover design by Kirk DouPonce,
Cover images by SuperStock and Stephen Gardner,
Author photo by Leslie Zachry
Creative Team: Rebekah Guzman, Jamie Chavez, Reagen Reed, Darla Hightower, Arvid Wallen,
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Jones, Jenny B., 1975-
The big picture / Jenny B. Jones.
p. cm. -- (A Katie Parker Production ; act 3)
Summary: Dumped by her possible boyfriend at a drive-in theater, Katie returns home to find that her mother, a former convict and current addict, wants to take her away from her foster family, friends, and church, and Katie must make important decisions as she considers what family and home really mean.
[1. Mothers and daughters--Fiction. 2. Foster home care--Fiction. 3. Family life--Texas--Fiction. 4. Motion picture theaters--Fiction. 5. Christian life--Fiction. 6. Texas--Fiction.] I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 12 11 10 09 08
This book is lovingly dedicated to Edith “Ninny” Hardy, my totally awesome grandmother. Thank you for all the stories you used to tell me and for always naming the main character “Jennifer.” Though the best stories were the real ones from your life . . . like the one about unknowingly camping out on an airport runway during your honeymoon. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and your family. You’ve created an amazing legacy.
THANK YOU, GOD, FOR BLESSING me with this series. That you chose me to write it still astounds me and makes me tear up. I have learned a lot on this journey as a writer, as a person, and as a Christian. Thank you for your mercy, your grace, and the opportunity to tell people about Jesus Christ in a way that wouldn’t make me totally freak out (well, okay, occasionally I might have). I’m grateful for direction, creativity, and for discouraging me from driving down the highway at maximum speed and chucking all my pages out of the car.
I’m very appreciative to NavPress for the opportunity to bring Katie, Maxine, and all the crew to life. You opened doors I didn’t even know existed. You’re the Narnia to my . . . oh, never mind. Thank you.
I wouldn’t be in this business today without the divine intervention of an organization called American Christian Writers Association. Thank you for all you’ve taught me and for willing helpers who supplied information needed to write this novel.
C. J. Darlington of TitleTrakk.com, you are the best. I can never repay you for your enthusiasm and encouragement and for getting behind this series in such a big way.
Jamie Chavez, my editor, you are one in a million. Though your
knack for realistic details is absolutely punishing (
Do you realize your character has three arms here? You have Katie swimming in February. You can’t just make up a comet! Why would anyone go to bed at five thirty?
), I know the story is all the better for it. Thank you for your friendship, your supportive e-mails, and for “getting” Katie. And me. And if I ever decide to write sci-fi, where time and space do not matter, I’m probably not calling you.
My career got an extreme makeover when agent Chip MacGregor said, “Let’s work together.” Thank you for taking me on, for being willing to handle me and my neurotic self, for your witty banter, and your instant friendship. I will always be proud to stand beside you and your kilt.
To my family, thank you, as always, for your support, love, and encouragement. Though this is my third novel. I think maybe it’s time we (as in you) started treating me with a new level of respect. Who wants to volunteer to clean out the litter box? Anybody? . . . Hello?
As with every book, I must express my deep appreciation to Erin Valentine and Erin Keeley Marshall. You’re the best critique group ever, and I am so grateful for all your help, generous spirits, and the time you’ve invested in this series. Thank you for being there from the beginning. I could break out into song every time I think about all you’ve done for me.
I would also like to thank my readers, from strangers to students, who have picked up a copy of the K
series and spent a little time in In Between, Texas. It thrills my heart to hear feedback. We authors tend to think only our mothers will like what we write. Thank you to everyone who put Katie Parker in schools and libraries. She has a message to bring, and I thank you for being a vital part of that ministry. I couldn’t do it without you.
I am very appreciative of Erin Blaylock and all the students and staff at Washington Junior High School. I appreciate all you’ve done to encourage and support Katie Parker.
Sheila Hall, thank you for being willing to brainstorm on command and share your brilliant ideas. And for remaining unfazed by e-mails at midnight that go a little something like this, “I need help now! E-mail me back in thirty seconds or our friendship is over and I will tell everyone about band camp in the eighties!”
I appreciate Kylan Savage, lead singer of The Truth About Movie Stars, for stepping off the stage long enough to mow my yard. You’re a huge help. When you teach
write, some things have to go . . . like mowing your own yard, reading the
Wall Street Journal
, the daily pursuit of clean underwear.
My last offer of gratitude is for Brian Armas of Armas Photography and Angry Designs. Thank you for my new website, for Photo Botox, and for putting up with me during the photo shoot. (“You want me to smile? Again? Can’t you just take a picture of my elbow or something?”) I invite everyone to check out my new space at jennybjones.com and behold his brilliance.
Finally, let me depart from the norm and get a tiny bit serious.
The Big Picture
puts Katie right in the middle of her mother’s addiction. A student, who didn’t even know I was writing this book, recently asked me, “If your parent is an addict, are you destined to become one too?” The short answer is no. But is your road going to be harder? Yes. Anytime there’s dysfunction in your home, in any form, your road is harder. If you find yourself in this situation, please, please find a
adult to confide in and talk to — a school counselor, a family member, a friend’s parent, someone from a church. Don’t suffer in silence. There are people out there who want to help you.
I’m totally kidding.
I’m mostly kidding.
“IF I EAT ANY MORE popcorn, I’m gonna hurl.”
I shove the bucket away, and Charlie Benson, my date for the evening, takes it and peers inside.
“In other words, you ate the top layer where the butter was, and now you’re done?”
I lean back in my chair and smile up at him.
The town of In Between doesn’t have much to offer, but I will give it points for a cool hangout spot for warm Friday nights. The drive-in. There are very few left in the country, but In Between hangs onto its classics, including the rusty water tower, the home-grown shops downtown, and Bubba’s Big Picture Cinema.
Slurping sounds come from Frances’s direction.
“Nash,” I call to her boyfriend. “Get her another root beer so I can hear the previews.”
Charlie’s fingers intertwine with mine, and he whispers close to my ear. “The previews are twenty years old.”
And that’s what makes them perfect.
The four of us sit beneath a sky crowded with stars and watch the screen pop and crackle to life. Bubba’s only shows old movies, and tonight
is eighties night. And with our chairs arranged in the back of Charlie’s truck, we settle in for the first flick of the evening,
Frances spouts off some useless facts about Molly Ringwald, and while my ears are trained on my best friend, my eyes are totally glued to Charlie.
Charlie Benson, Mr. Four-Point-Oh and quarterback for the In Between Chihuahuas, is some pretty fine stuff. He and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. And you’d think that would be great. I mean, he’s hot, he’s brilliant, and he has some well-defined, ’roid-free muscles that make a girl want to just drool.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re just friends.
Who occasionally hold hands.
“Actually” — I bat my eyes at the boy beside me — “I could use another drink myself.”
Charlie steps toward the cab and digs into the cooler until he finds a Diet Dr Pepper. He pops the top then places it in my waiting hand.
, he’s sweet like that. All the time. Except when he avoids me at school. Like he has this past week.
Did I mention he’s
my boyfriend? But I want to rectify that tonight. You know, make him define what exactly we are. Maybe he thinks we’re exclusively dating and assumes I think the same?
what if he thinks we’re just really close friends and is under the impression that I know that’s all we are? But let me tell you, Frances and I are close friends, and
doesn’t open my cans and hold my hand.
As Charlie sits down, my green eyes lock onto his gray peepers. My expression says,
Thanks for the drink. You’re so thoughtful. By the way, do you plan on kissing me anytime this century?
Behind us Frances and Nash break out the cookies as Frances continues her list of everything she knows about the movie. Which is too much.
“Did you know the cake at the end of this movie is actually made of cardboard? And it’s interesting to note that when the girls are in the lunch line . . .”
Charlie looks back at the two of them then leans closer to me. “Frances still gets a little nervous around Nash, doesn’t she?”
I inhale his light scent and smile. “At least she no longer requires a paper bag every time he’s around. I’d say that’s progress. We did pretty well hooking those two up.”
His brown hair blows in the evening breeze. “Yeah, we’re a good team.”
See? He’s always saying things like that. We’re a good team? What does that mean? A good team as in Bert and Ernie? Or as in Spider-Man and Mary Jane?
Like I said, the last few weeks Charlie and I have been hanging out. A lot. We’re at that point where we call each other every night. And my foster mom told me if I didn’t cut down on the texting, I was going to have to sell an organ to pay for the next bill. I love a good text message — but maybe not enough to sacrifice a kidney.
But lately Charlie’s been acting strangely. I’ve barely seen him at all this week at school. A suspicious girl would wonder if he’s avoiding her. But then tonight he acts like there’s no place he’d rather be than out here with me, watching a girl from the eighties try to figure out her life while wearing hideous blue eye shadow.