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From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.
In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.
When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…
the water, its belly gold-scaled and bloated from regular feedings. If I part
my knees, I can catch long glimpses of its lazy swimming through the gap in the
not ladylike for a twelve-year-old girl, not here, not in Thailand. The land
where my parents grew up; the place that’s supposed to be my home, too. That’s
what the banner said, when my relatives came to pick us up at the airport. “Welcome
couple years. Never mind that I don’t look like anyone else here, with my
American build and my frizzy, out-of-control hair. Never mind that I don’t look
like anyone in my hometown, either, since I’m the only Asian girl in school.
Never mind that the only reason we’re here now is because my father’s dead and
my mom can’t keep it together.
severe that it might as well slice my heart in half, like in one of those video
games my friends like to play. I squeeze my eyes shut, but that doesn’t keep
the tears from spilling out. Neither do the glasses sliding down my nose. And
so the tears drip down, down, down, past my unladylike knees, through the gap
in the stairs, into the fish basin below.
tail swishing in the water, no longer languid, no longer lazy. So, even this
creature wants to get away from me—from my grief, from my strangeness—as
quickly as possible.
mother’s mother, and since we arrived, she’s used the endearment—child that I love—more often than my
handkerchief. It’s only seven a.m., and already sweat drenches my skin like
I’ve taken a dip in the basin. No wonder they take two or three showers a day
eases onto the step next to me, her knees pressed together, her legs folded
demurely to one side.
like hers and then give up. My legs just don’t go that way.
those salesgirls at Siam Square yesterday? They rushed up as soon as we entered
and said they didn’t have anything in my size.” My cheeks still burn when I
think about their haughty expressions.
ridiculously small. We’ll go to the mall today. They should have something that
will fit you.”
legs. “One of the salesgirls asked how much I weighed. Another grabbed my arm
and said I felt like a side pillow.”
way to be blunt.” She catches my chin and tilts up my face. “You are so
beautiful. I wish you could see that.”
I’m ugly not only in Thailand but also in the United States. Even though I’m
not big by American standards—far from it—I could confess how the boys call me
Squinty. How those Thai salesgirls snickered at my poodle-fuzz hair. I could
explain how I’m from two worlds but fit in neither.
But I don’t. Because my words will only make her
sad, and there have been enough tears in our family.
Pintip is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.Pintip’s first novel, FORGET TOMORROW won the RWA RITA® award for Best First Book. Her other novels include THE DARKEST LIE, REMEMBER YESTERDAY, and the novella, BEFORE TOMORROW. She is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House.She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.