Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: February 28th 2017Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can't breathe, can't walk, can't anything and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
It turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie's beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J. s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She's had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.
It’s all good. Well, almost all. She's trying.
Rachel lives in New York City with her husband, their two sons, and (like Gracie) a tortoise named Lightning.
I was in fifth grade. He was in sixth. We were in BYE BYE BIRDIE – I was playing Kim and he was Kim’s boyfriend Hugo. He had a sweet voice and soft hands. We held hands a bunch of times in the show and at first that felt very weird, holding hands with Frank. But we got used to it. And we got used to pretending we were going out until it was hard to remember we were just pretending to like each other that way – so he asked me out and I said yes and I had a boyfriend.
It was exciting to call my older cousins and tell them the great news. I felt much older. Finally. I was in double digits. That’s pretty much a teenager, was my logic.
There was supposed to be a kiss in the play. We blocked around it. I think maybe we kind of hugged instead. Because ew, weird. And shouldn’t that be, like, a private thing, a first kiss? Not on the Ward School stage in front of the whole fifth and sixth grades?
Opening night everything went well. The auditorium was packed with parents and siblings and teachers. Waiting backstage before curtain call we all jumped around shrieking and telling one another no YOU were great! You were amazing! This was so great! My turn. I walked out into the hot bright lights and met Frank center stage. He had flowers for me. I took them and we hugged each other and then: HE KISSED ME.
Center stage. Everybody watching. My dad filming.
I smiled at him and wiped the kiss off. We bowed. We split and went to our spots at the edges of the stage. I sat down next to the guy who’d played my father in the show, thinking: I just got my first kiss. Can he tell I’m shaking? Can he tell everything is different for me now?
He doesn’t remember. I asked him. That guy who played my dad in the show? He’s the guy I ended up marrying, the guy I fall in love with every day.
A first kiss can feel like magic, like a transformation. And it is. Even if you wipe it off. Even if your dad has video of it to torture you with from then on. Even if it’s not with the one you end up with forever.
Brittany: Thank you so much for this beautiful and adorable story about your first kiss, Rachel!
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