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About the author:
For more information on Rachel and her upcoming fiction, please visit www.rachelkburke.com
What inspired you to write your book?
Music, Love. Following your dreams.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Going from Catholic school to public school is like living in a fishbowl your whole life, and
then being dumped into the Mississippi River. The classrooms are bigger, the hallways are
wider, and everywhere you look, there are cliques upon cliques of students of all different styles and genres.
It was September of 1997 when I began my freshman year at Rockland High. I can still
remember staring at the mass of strange faces – preppy cheerleaders who followed the jocks, stoners in leather who smelled like cigarettes, art kids in an assortment of colors – and wondering where I’d fit into the equation.
But as soon as I walked into my fifth period English class, I didn’t have to wonder for long.
I spotted her in the back corner, scribbling something on her notebook. She was wearing
black combat boots and a yellow T-shirt that said, “Save a Tree. Eat a Beaver.” I was wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and the purple Converse sneakers I’d owned since junior high. I took a seat next to her and we both discreetly eyeballed each other until she broke the ice.
“I like your necklace,” she’d whispered to me.
I was wearing a black choker that resembled a dog collar with silver studs. A token of one of my unfortunate, short-lived goth phases.
“Thanks,” I’d whispered back. I pointed to her notebook, where she’d written the words
“J.B. 1966 – 1997” with a heart around it. “You’re a Buckley fan, huh?”
Her jaw dropped in disbelief. “You like Jeff Buckley?” She looked me up and down, then
narrowed her blue eyes suspiciously. “What’s your favorite song?”
That was an easy one. The day I discovered “Lover You Should’ve Come Over,” music took
on a whole new meaning. It was like Jeff Buckley had beamed down from rock and roll heaven to educate society on what music was meant to be. To turn music into more than just a dancy track that saturates the airwaves – into a life-altering event. Into something that makes you view the world differently.
I relayed this information to her, at which point a glorious grin broke out across her face.
“I’m Justine,” she said.
Her eyes circled the room, then she leaned forward in her seat and lowered her voice to a
whisper. “Do you want to meet me for a smoke at the Groves after school?”
“Sure,” I agreed. I’d never smoked a cigarette in my life, but it seemed ideal for an
otherwise uneventful Monday afternoon.
The Groves were located in the back of the Rockland High football field, a giant spread of
woods where kids would meet at the end of the day to smoke cigarettes, get high or arrange fist fights with their opposing enemy of the week. Justine led me down to a secluded spot, then took a seat on the ground and handed me a Marlboro red. When I took my first drag and started coughing like an amateur, she broke into a fit of laughter.
“Never smoked before, huh?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I just spent the last eight years in a Catholic school. The most rebellious
thing that kids ever did there was sniff white out.”
That made her laugh harder. Laugh is an inappropriate word actually, because Justine
didn’t laugh, she giggled. And it was contagious. No matter what kind of mood I was in, all it took was Justine’s infectious, childlike giggle to snap me out of it.
I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but there was something about Justine that I was instantly drawn
to. Maybe it was her constant paradox of innocence and mischief, or the way she loved music the same way I did. All I knew was that, up until that point, I’d always felt like an outsider, but when I was around Justine, it was different. I’d found someone who was just like me.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lying face-up on the grass, Justine twirling her long
brown locks with her left hand and chain-smoking with her right. We exchanged grunge fashion favorites and sexual experiences. We quizzed each other on alternative one-hit wonders and complied a list of CD’s to trade. We took Polaroids of ourselves upside down in the grass and howled over the results.
When it started getting dark, Justine walked me to the top of my street. Before crossing to
head home, she removed a Polaroid of us from her purse and pressed it into my hand.
“Keep it,” she said, smiling. Then she turned and walked away.