Published by Henry Holt BYR | On sale March 24, 2015
Hardcover | Ages 14 to 18 | Grades 9 to 12 | 224 pages | $16.99 | 978-0-8050-9257-8
Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same
subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.
Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a year later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite Juliette to Taco Bell.
To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.
Praise for Finding Mr. Brightside
"I have rarely rooted for anyone—fictional or real—more than I rooted for Abram and Juliette. Jay Clark—you just wrote one of my favorite YA books ever. Thank you!" —Jerry Spinelli, author of Stargirl
Jay Clark is the author of The Edumacation of Jay Baker, which was named a Bank Street College Best Book. He’s also a random blogger. Surprisingly popular entries like “How to stop hating people in 21 minutes” and “8 tips for posting your best selfie yet!” He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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THERE SHE IS, standing behind the counter: my CVS pharmacist, Mindy. We’re on a first-name basis. Not sure how she feels about that, but the other day I hid inside the Starbucks bathroom for five minutes to avoid running into her, so …
I walk up and slide my prescription toward Mindy’s waiting hand, ignoring the sign reminding me not to forget this year’s flu shot on purpose again.
Mindy picks up the paper, stares at it like we don’t go through the same embarrassing routine every month.
“Let me check if I have this medication in stock.”
She does—I called ahead but don’t want to admit it, just watch as Mindy walks over to the safe where they keep all the stuff worth getting prescribed. She crouches down and practically folds herself over the front of it, paranoid I might memorize the combo as she punches it in. At best, she looks awkward. At worst, I’ve already memorized it—never know when things will get more desperate than they already are.
She walks back, tells me they have it, and starts typing my order into the computer. Frowning, she says, “Your insurance won’t cover this until the end of the month.”
“Really?” I say innocently. Went a little overboard on my daily dosage last week. After hesitating for what seems like an appropriate amount of time, I tell her I’ll pay out of pocket and remove my sketchy online discount card from my purse. Mindy shoots me a conflicted expression that I’m not mentally equipped to help her feel better about. I have my own problems, clearly.
“When would you like to pick up your Adderall?” she practically bellows.
“Ten minutes, please,” I say, my voice a sharp, pointy whisper.
Mindy pushes back the bangs she probably shouldn’t have cut in the first place, wanting me to understand how heavy the burden I’m placing on her is. The store is empty. Mindy’s going to be okay.
When we’re almost finished with each other, a noise rings out from the aisle behind me—a bottle of pills dropping to the floor. We’re not as alone as I thought. Nevertheless, I don’t turn around. Why? So I can see someone I know? Or, worse, someone-I-know’s mom? I look up toward the shoplifters-beware mirror mounted to the corner wall. Not liking what’s reflecting back at me. At all.
I’m seeing a crown of wavy blond surfer-dude hair, droopy gray sweatpants, flip-flops. But it’s the bewilderingly cute face, his face, and the watery-blue color of his eyes, which stir up feelings I haven’t yet figured out how to compartmentalize.
For now, I give my brain tips like Stop it and I hate you. I’m still getting a faceful of Abram Morgan at CVS, on a Friday, at midnight, dropping a bottle of fish oil on the floor.
He places the bottle back on the shelf, mutters an apology to no one in particular, and walks away. Why is he here? Shouldn’t he be playing tennis, or doing whatever Abram Morgan does on the weekends so I don’t have to worry about seeing the waistband of his boxer briefs outside of eighth-period English?
I finish up with Mindy and then duck past the greeting cards into the most boy-repelling aisle I can find: the tampon section. Then I go one aisle past that one, because I just can’t be that girl right now, even in hiding. Eyes lowered as far as they can go, I examine the boxes of hair color as if I’m in the market for a new hue that’s destined to result in my best friend, Heidi, a genuinely nice person who could do a lot better for herself than the damaged goods I’m bringing to the table, throwing me a pity party and having to pretend it’s just as fun as a regular party.
One of the hair models, a doll-like woman with an intentionally disheveled blond bob, looks eerily similar to my mother. Her lips are painted a deep red, her chin tilts upward like she’s found a secret beauty ingredient bubbling forth from the fountain of youth, and wouldn’t you like to buy what it is? A chill plays the piano down my spine.
I pick up the box—the last one on the shelf—and drop it quietly to the floor, sliding it underneath the bottom shelf with my worn-out running shoe. For a second I flash back to my mom in a hospital bed, eyes closed, face flawless and scratch-free, her brain the only injured part of her body. Even close to death, she looked very, very much alive.
My chest feels tight, and I can’t breathe, and, new rule, no thinking about my mother on life support again for at least the rest of my days. Especially with Abram Morgan, a living reminder of who she’d become, nearby.
Then it hits me. Not another anxiety attack. Not anything close to inner peace. The Adderall I classily swallowed at the kitchen sink, before my two-mile jog over here? Unfortunately, that’s it. The side effects are giving me a false sense of euphoric confidence that I could maybe, possibly, confront Abram Morgan, head-on, and “kill my frog,” as my well-meaning father, a lifelong people-procrastinator himself, likes to preach but rarely leaves the house to practice.
Say I did walk over to Abram right now—how would I go about forcing casual conversation? Should I unzip my track jacket so he can get a clearer view of my protruding clavicles? Flirtatiously release my dry-shampooed hair from my extra-taut runner’s bun, mid-sentence, to indicate how relaxed I’m not in his presence? Smile through the pain I’ve been distracting myself from by taking more than my fair share of ADHD pills?
I start searching for him, pretending I’m the silly-but-lovable blond heroine (addict) in a low-budget indie film I just made up. Working title: Prescription for Love. My character, a type-A smart girl with mom issues and a one-track mind, is completely unaware she’s about to find a cute guy where she least expected, at CVS, while waiting for her refill. Prescription for Love has direct-to-DVD flop written all over it, but there’s a Redbox conveniently located outside the entrance here, should anyone want to rent it after we’re done filming.There he is, in the candy section: Abram. Deep breath. I’ll do my best to make the next scene more take-charge than outtake, but no promises, being that his father killed my mother a year ago.