Shucked by Megg Jensen
Publication date: April 14th 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Suburgatory meets Indiana Jones...on a farm
Fifteen-year-old Tabitha has had the kind of life that would impress even the greatest adventurers. She's escaped a croc attack in the Amazon, walked the length of the Great Wall of China, and earned a black belt in taekwondo in Korea. She owes her worldly experience to her mother's career in archaeology, but when her mother takes on a dangerous new assignment, Tabitha is devastated to learn she can't tag along.
Instead, she's forced to live on a midwestern farm with her grandparents where she'll have to attend a full year of public school. It's Tabitha's greatest nightmare, because despite all her adventures, she has no practical experience with the one thing that frightens her the most - other teenagers.
Her math teacher is her mom's old high school boyfriend, she can't tell the friendly girls from the mean ones, and she develops a major crush on a boy she knows she can't trust. And just when she thinks she'll never get the hang of this normal teenager thing, an attack brings the danger of her previous life right up to her midwestern porch. Who could have ever guessed getting totally shucked would bring her face-to-face with her most exciting adventure yet?
“Smith?” she barked at me. Yes, Smith is my last name. Unique, I know.
“Yes, Mrs. Jordan?” I asked in the sweetest voice I had.
“You,” she pointed at Becky, “hit the showers.”
Becky wiggled her fingers at me in a little wave. On the way to the locker room, she stubbed her toe. Becky hopped precariously on one foot while massaging the other. I was dying to see her walk a runway in heels after that.
I eyed the gym teacher. I’d been out of the country for a long time, but I was quite sure mullets went out of style about twenty years ago. Someone forgot to give her the memo on that. If Highlights Gone Wrong was a reality show, surely she’d be on it.
“You haven’t signed up for a sports team yet.” Mrs. Jordan dropped next to me on the bleachers, hiking up her pants as she sat. Legs spread wide, she rested her elbow on her knees, put her chin in her hands, and stared at me.
“Sports team?” I repeated.
“There’s nothing in your file about playing an instrument, right?”
I’d learned elementary didjeridu during a quick stint in Australia. I couldn’t imagine they had a section for that here. I shook my head.
“You are required to participate in an extra-curricular activity. Marching band is out. What skills do you have?”
I thought quickly. I didn’t want to end up on an awful team. Too short for volleyball. Too slow for track. No penis for football. What did that leave me?
“I am a black belt in taekwondo,” I said, sure that I could get a spot on their martial arts team. I could probably disable them all with a glance. I sat up straighter, my shoulders back.
Mrs. Jordan’s eyes widened. “Taekwondo? You beat people up?”
“Well, kind of,” I said, puffing up my chest with pride. Not many people would suspect tiny me to be dangerous. I liked that. “It’s more self-defense than attack strategies, but if pressed, yes, I can hurt someone. I have this amazing jump-kick combination that never fails to knock people off their feet. I also learned how to flip over someone’s kick to avoid being hit. It’s really amazing.”
I stopped when I realized Mrs. Jordan was staring at me. Yes, I was babbling. Yes, maybe I sounded a tad like Becky. But hey, how often did I get to discuss my martial arts experience with a fellow fitness enthusiast? Mrs. Jordan didn’t have an ounce of fat on her. Obviously she would understand the amazing things the human body can accomplish when pushed.
“Perfect,” she said. “Then it’s decided.” A smile spread across Mrs. Jordan’s face. It echoed on mine. Not only was I being invited to join their martial arts team, but I bet she was about to make me captain.
“I’m honored,” I said.
“Wonderful!” Mrs. Jordan clapped me on the back. “You’ll be a great addition to our cheerleading squad.” How many circles of hell did Dante discover?
I've been a freelance parenting journalist since 2003 and began writing YA novels in 2009. I co-run DarkSide Publishing, am a member of SCBWI, and I blog about writing while juggling freelancing, volunteering, and family life. I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband, two kids, and our miniature schnauzer, Ace.