I look behind me as we walk toward the parking lot, gravel crunching and spraying beneath our feet.
"Whatcha' lookin' at, Aurin? I thought you weren't interested in those guys," Kenney says.
"I'm not," I say.
There is a carefully constructed balance between Aurin and her friends Kenney and Fred. Kenney is usually the one who comes up with things to do -- her flair for the dramatic can make even boring old Greensboro seem interesting. And if she is a little controlling, Aurin and Fred just look the other way.
Aurin has no intention of throwing off their established equilibrium. But when Neila joins their circle, Aurin realizes that she and Neila are becoming more than friends. Aurin and Neila are happy in their developing relationship, but Kenney feels left out. Can Aurin manage to mend things with an increasingly possessive Kenney, without letting her control this aspect of her life?
In this stunning debut novel, Tea Benduhn looks at a teen making decisions about her future while trying not to lose her past.
Tea Benduhn lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two cats. She has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston, and a BA in English and secondary education from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Of Gravel Queen, she says:
"I wanted to write an uplifting story about teen love that had a positive outcome. When I was growing up and discovering my identity, I read a lot about the tragic consequences of following desire lines, as well as negative stereotypes about the South, but did not see much evidence of either in my real, daily experience. So I wrote Gravel Queen to show the celebratory and fun part of teen life."
Chapter One: Glamour Girls
At the beginning of my movie, before the lights come up, you'll hear music. The audience will be primed for adventure-viewing because of the soundtrack, which will be provided mostly by folk-punk girl bands with names like "Eleanor's Sister" or "Tubercular Purr."
Lights out. A single guitar starts fast but low. Drums come in, sounding like they're being scratched with kitchen utensils. Bass picks up the beat, subsiding into the undercurrent. The music picks up speed with the crescendo, then plateaus when the singer comes in. Her voice is full of gravel and makes you want to reach down into her throat and pull up her voice to figure out how it works, or to swallow it yourself.
The dark screen begins to fade into image as the music rises. There's a round yellowish girl with dark hair driving a beat-up blue pickup truck with some rust around the fenders. That's me.
The red clay kicks up from my tires as I drive down the dirt road. You don't know yet whether I am going away from or toward something, but I guess I'm doing both. Maybe I just robbed a convenience store, or witnessed a murder. Maybe I'm going to join the circus to avoid a rotten uncle. No one knows at the beginning because you just see me driving. And I look so cool, with my cat-eye sunglasses on.
All the colors will be intense: bright yellow sun glinting off the dried raindrops crusted to the truck's dusty windows, saturated red dirt road, deep azure sky. It looks like a late summer afternoon; the trees have patches of lime green leaves and that curious golden quality to them that you only get on humid days.
A cloud of dust obscures the view for a moment, then pan to a huge brick house. A silhouette of someone blocking the sun stands at the edge of a manicured bright green lawn, waiting for me to pick her up. She tosses her bag into the back, and hops in.
Then we go.
Real life doesn't seem to be quite as cinematic.
"You're wearing that?" Kenney arches one of her meticulously plucked eyebrows at me.
I look down at my plaid sneakers and worn-out jean shorts. "What?"
My best friend: the nine-foot-tall toothpick with hair like fire. Of course she can't see the glory of my broken-in socks and comfortably relaxed yellow T-shirt. To her, these items are odious because there is no glamour involved. When she puts together an outfit, she chooses it based on its impact on the Richter scale.
Today, when she pulled up in front of my house in her Mary Kay pink vintage Mustang convertible, she made sure to toss her head just so as the boy watering the Johnson yard gaped at her lanky arms and long legs unfolding from her tiger-striped plush bucket seats.
And now she's standing in front of me wearing a knee-length red and white hounds' tooth skirt with a clingy bright red shirt, and pulling polyester printed items out of my closet and tossing them at my feet. Only Kenney can wear red with red hair and not look like tomato soup. As for me, I am convinced she keeps me around for my kooky-best-friend sidekick quality.
"Come on, Aurin, we can always do better." She puts her arm around my shoulders and guides me toward the bathroom so I can change.
"Well, where are we going?" I ask as she shuts the door behind me and makes herself comfortable rummaging through my room.
"To the park to meet Fred."
"Big deal." I pull on the beige button-down dress with robin's egg blue flowers that she'd shoved at me.
"What if we see somebody?" Kenney asks. "You've always got to consider running into people."
I open the door and roll my eyes. "I don't see why I need to think about that. It isn't as if I'm ever going to have more than two friends anyway."
"We're going to be seniors in a few months, Aurin. Don't you want to reinvent yourself? We're not going to be in high school forever, you know. This is your time to be foxy. Use it well."
"Girl crap," I mutter.
"And what's with that hair-do, lady?" Kenney grimaces. "Who wears hankies on their head anymore?" She pulls the bandanna off of my head.
"I was just trying to get my hair out of my face."
"We can always do better." Her refrain. She grabs a bottle out of her purse and starts squirting my hair and crunching it into clumps. She digs through her bag some more, then starts poking bobby pins into my hair, styling it into a more organized mess.
Her hair, of course, is perfectly styled to match the '40s look she's been cultivating lately. Apparently she thinks we both need to fit into her old movie image, create total illusion. She doesn't appreciate the fact that I'm the director, not an actor. I don't know who I'm supposed to be trying to impress anyway.
Kenney rifles through my closet, "Here." She shoves a pair of old-lady shoes at me, the ones with a thick, short heel and square toe that I got for fifty cents and painted brown. She pauses and looks at me while I put on the shoes.
I shift my legs, scratching my knees against one another. Kenney is still considering the outcome of her fashion restructuring. A smile slides onto her face. "Now, Aurin, that is so much better! Just see how nice you look. Why don't you ever wear this?" She tugs at the corner of the dress, straightening the hemline.
"It's hot and itchy?" I offer.
Kenney glances at my watch -- she never wears one. "It's getting late, we better go."
That's settled. And here we go to the park to meet Fred.
Copyright © 2003 by Tiffany Benduhn
Description du livre Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing 2003-03-01, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. 068984994X Has slight shelf wear to dust jacket. A portion of your purchase of this book will be donated to non-profit organizations. Over 1,000,000 satisfied customers since 1997! We ship daily M-F. Choose expedited shipping (if available) for much faster delivery. Delivery confirmation on all US orders. N° de réf. du libraire Z068984994XZN
Description du livre Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. 1. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX068984994X
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Description du livre Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 068984994X
Description du livre Simon & Schuster Children's Pu, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire P11068984994X
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