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All-American Girl

Okay, here are the top ten reasons why I can't stand my sister Lucy:

10. I get all her hand-me-downs, even her bras.

9. When I refuse to wear her hand-me-downs, especially her bras, I get the big lecture about waste and the environment. Look, I am way concerned about the environment. But that does not mean I want to wear my sister's old bras. I told Mom I see no reason why I should even have to wear a bra, seeing as how it's not like I've got a lot to put in one, causing Lucy to remark that if I don't wear a bra now then if I ever do get anything up there, it will be all saggy like those tribal women we saw on the Discovery Channel.

8. This is another reason why I can't stand Lucy. Because she is always making these kind of remarks. What we should really do, if you ask me, is send Lucy's old bras to those tribal women.

7. Her conversations on the phone go like this: "No way. . . . So what did he say? . . . Then what did she say? . . . No way. . . . That is so totally untrue. . . . I do not. I so do not. . . . Who said that? . . . Well, it isn't true. . . . No, I do not. . . . I do not like him. . . . Well, okay, maybe I do. Oh, gotta go, call-waiting."

6. She is a cheerleader. All right? A cheerleader. Like it isn't bad enough she spends all her time waving pom-poms at a bunch of Neanderthals as they thunder up and down a football field. No, she has to do it practically every night. And since Mom and Dad are fanatical about this mealtime-is-family-time thing, guess what we are usually doing at five thirty? And who is even hungry then?

5. All of my teachers go: "You know, Samantha, when I had your sister in this class two years ago, I never had to remind her to:

a) double space
b) carry the one
c) capitalize her nouns in Deutsch
d) remember her swimsuit
e) take off her headphones during morning announcements
f) stop drawing on her pants."

4. She has a boyfriend. And not just any boyfriend, either, but a nonjock boyfriend, something totally unheard-of in the social hierarchy of our school: a cheerleader going with a nonjock boyfriend. And it isn't even that he's not a jock. Oh, no, Jack also happens to be an urban rebel like me, only he really goes all out, you know, in the black army surplus trench coat and the Doc Martens and the straight Ds and all. Plus he wears an earring that hangs.

But even though he is not "book smart," Jack is very talented and creative artistically. For instance, he is always getting his paintings of disenfranchised American youths hung up in the caf. And nobody even graffitis them, the way they would if they were mine. Jack's paintings, I mean.

As if that is not cool enough, Mom and Dad completely hate him because of his not working up to his potential and getting suspended for his anti-authoritarianism and calling them Carol and Richard to their faces instead of Mr. and Mrs. Madison.

It is totally unfair that Lucy should not only have a cool boyfriend but a boyfriend our parents can't stand, something I have been praying for my entire life, practically.

Although actually at this point any kind of boyfriend would be acceptable.

3. In spite of the fact that she is dating an artistic rebel type instead of a jock, Lucy remains one of the most popular girls in school, routinely getting invited to parties and dances every weekend, so many that she could not possibly attend them all, and often says things like, "Hey, Sam, why don't you and Catherine go as, like, my emissaries?" even though if Catherine and I ever stepped into a party like that we would be vilified as sophomore poseurs and thrown out onto the street.

2. She gets along with Mom and Dad -- except for the whole Jack thing -- and always has. She even gets along with our little sister, Rebecca, who goes to a special school for the intellectually gifted and is practically an idiot savant.

But the number-one reason I can't stand my sister Lucy would have to be:

1. She told on me about the celebrity drawings.

Chapter One

She says she didn't mean to. She says she found them in my room, and they were so good she couldn't help showing them to Mom.

Of course, it never occurred to Lucy that she shouldn't have been in my room in the first place. When I accused her of completely violating my constitutionally protected right to personal privacy, she just looked at me like, Huh? even though she is fully taking U.S. Government this semester.

Her excuse is that she was looking for her eyelash curler.

Hello. Like I would borrow anything of hers. Especially something that had been near her big, bulbous eyeballs.

Instead of her eyelash curler, which of course I didn't have, Lucy found this week's stash of drawings, and she presented them to Mom at dinner that night.

"Well," Mom said in this very dry voice. "Now we know how you got that C-minus in German, don't we, Sam?"

This was on account of the fact that the drawings were in my German notebook.

"Is this supposed to be that guy from The Patriot?" my dad wanted to know. "Who is that you've drawn with him? Is that . . . is that Catherine?"

"German," I said, feeling that they were missing the point, "is a stupid language."

"German isn't stupid," my little sister Rebecca informed me. "The Germans can trace their heritage back to ethnic groups that existed during the days of the Roman Empire. Their language is an ancient and beautiful one that was created thousands of years ago."

"Whatever," I said. "Did you know that they capitalize all of their nouns? What is up with that?"

"Hmmm," my mother said, flipping to the front of my German notebook. "What have we here?"

My dad went, "Sam, what are you doing drawing pictures of Catherine on the back of a horse with that guy from The Patriot?"

"I think this will explain it, Richard," my mother said, and she passed the notebook back to my dad.

In my own defense, I can only state that, for better or for worse, we live in a capitalistic society. I was merely enacting my rights of individual initiative by supplying the public -- in the form of most of the female student population at John Adams Preparatory School -- with a product for which I saw there was a demand. You would think that my dad, who is an international economist with the World Bank, would understand this.

But as he read aloud from my German notebook in an astonished voice, I could tell he did not understand. He did not understand at all.

"You and Josh Hartnett," my dad read, "fifteen dollars. You and Josh Hartnett on a desert island, twenty dollars. You and Justin Timberlake, ten dollars. You and Justin Timberlake under a waterfall, fifteen dollars. You and Keanu Reeves, fifteen dollars. You and -- " My dad looked up. "Why are Keanu and Josh more than Justin?"

"Because," I explained, "Justin has less hair."

"Oh," my dad said. "I see." He went back to the list.

Excerpted from ALL-AMERICAN GIRL © Copyright 2005 by Meg Cabot. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

All-American Girl
by by Meg Cabot

  • hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0060294698
  • ISBN-13: 9780060294694