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Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel

Chapter One

Which might explain why I finally got the guts to do it.

Make a change, I mean. And a pretty big one, too. For the better.

Who cares if my sister Lucy doesn't necessarily agree?

Actually, she didn't say she didn't like it. Not that I would have cared if she had. I didn't do it for her. I did it for myself.

Which is how I replied to her. Lucy, I mean. When she said what she did about it, which was: "Mom's going to kill you."

"I didn't do it for Mom," I said. "I did it for me. No one else."

I don't even know what she was doing home. Lucy, I mean. Shouldn't she have been at cheerleading practice? Or a game? Or shopping at the mall with her friends, which is how she spends the vast majority of her time, when she isn't working at the mall -- which amounts to almost the same thing, since all her friends hang out in Bare Essentials (the lingerie store where she gets paid to do nothing), while she's there anyway, helping her squeal over the latest J-Lo gossip in Us Weekly and fold G-strings?

"Yeah, but you don't have to look at yourself," Lucy said from her desk. I could tell she was IMing her boyfriend, Jack. Lucy has to IM him every morning before school, and then again before bed, and sometimes, like now, even in between, or he gets upset. Jack is away at college at the Rhode Island School of Design and has proved, since he left, to be increasingly insecure about Lucy's affections for him. He needs near-constant reassurances that she still cares about him and isn't off making out with some dude she met at Sunglass Hut, or whatever.

Which is kind of surprising, because before he left for college, Jack never struck me as the needy type. I guess college can change people.

This isn't a very encouraging thought, considering that my boyfriend, who is Lucy's age, will be going off to college next year. At least Jack drives down to see Lucy every weekend, which is nice, instead of hanging with his college friends. I hope David will do this as well.

Although I'm beginning to wonder if Jack actually even has any. College friends, I mean.

"I have to look at myself in the mirror all the time," is what I said to Lucy's remark about how I don't have to look at myself. "Besides, no one asked you." And I turned to continue down the hallway, which is where I'd been headed when Lucy had stopped me, having spied me attempting to slink past her open bedroom door.

"Fine," Lucy called after me, as I attempted to slink away again. "But just so you know, you don't look like her."

Of course I had to come back to her doorway and go, "Like who?" Because I genuinely had no idea what she was talking about. Although you would think by this time, I would have known better than to ask. I mean, it was Lucy I was talking to.

"You know," she said, after taking a sip of her diet Coke. "Your hero. What's her name. Gwen Stefani. She has blond hair, right? Not black."

Oh my God. I couldn't believe Lucy was trying to tell me -- me, Gwen Stefani's number-one fan -- what color hair she has.

"I am aware of that," I said, and started to leave again.

But Lucy's next remark brought me right back to her doorway.

"Now you look like that other chick. What's her name?"

"Karen O?" I asked, hopefully. Don't even ask me why I thought Lucy might be about to say something nice, like that I looked like the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I think I had inhaled too much ammonium hydroxide from the hair dye, or something.

"Nuh-uh," Lucy said. Then she snapped her fingers. "Got it. Ashlee Simpson."

I sucked in my breath. There are way worse things than looking like Ashlee Simpson -- who actually looks fine -- but it's the idea that people might think I was trying to copy her that so utterly repulsed me that I could feel the Doritos I'd scarfed after school rising in my throat. I couldn't actually think of anything worse at that particular moment. In fact, at that particular moment, it was lucky for Lucy there was nothing sharp sitting around nearby, or I swear, I think I might have stabbed her.

"I do not look like Ashlee Simpson," I managed to croak.

Lucy just shrugged and turned back to her computer screen, as usual showing no remorse whatsoever for her actions.

"Whatever," she said. "I'm sure David's dad is going to be thrilled. Don't you have to go on VH1 or something next week to promote his stupid Return to Family thingie?"

"MTV," I said, feeling even worse, because now I was remembering that I still hadn't read any of the stuff Mr. Green, the White House press secretary, had given to me in preparation for that particular event. I mean, come on. Between homework and drawing lessons and work, how much time do I even have for teen ambassador stuff? That would be zero.

Besides, a girl has to have her priorities. And mine was dyeing my hair.

So that I looked like an Ashlee Simpson wannabe, apparently.

"And you know perfectly well it's MTV," I snapped at Lucy, because I was still smarting over the Ashlee thing. Also because I was mad at myself for not having started studying up on the stuff I was supposed to say. But better to take it out on Lucy than myself. "And that it's a town hall meeting, and the president will be there. At Adams Prep. Like you weren't planning on going to it and using the opportunity to test out those new pink jeans you got from Betsey Johnson."

Lucy looked all innocent. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You are so full of it!" I couldn't believe she had the nerve to sit there and pretend like that. Like anyone at school could talk about anything else. That MTV was coming to Adams Prep, I mean. No one could care less that the president was coming. It was the hot new VJ, Random Alvarez (Seriously. That's his name. Random), who was hosting the stupid thing, that Lucy and her friends were all excited about.

Excerpted from READY OR NOT: An All-American Girl Novel © Copyright 2005 by Meg Cabot. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel
by by Meg Cabot

  • Genres: Fiction
  • hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0060724501
  • ISBN-13: 9780060724504