By: Draper, Sharon M.
New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002
Grades 7-10, Book Level 4.9, Accelerated Reader Points: 7
Passage from pp. 24-26.
“Delia?” Yolanda looked directly at her friend.
“What?” Delia looked at the sky.
“We’ve been best friends since first grade, right?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“You were there for me in third grade when my baby sister died.”
“Yeah, that was rough.”
“And I stood by you through all that mess when your mom and dad got divorced when we were in the fourth grade.”
“So it’s okay if you admit to me, and only me, your very best friend, your secret.”
“The only thing we have never talked about.” Yolanda sighed and continued. “I know you can’t read, Delia. I’ve known for a long time.”
Silence. Delia sat back down on the bench, stunned. Yolanda sat next to her. Cars whizzed by in the street beyond the teachers’ parking lot. Echoes of shouts from the lunchroom drifted toward them. A bird chirped nervously in a tree. An airplane flew overhead. But Delia was silent. She thought of denying it, but she was so tired of hiding, tired of pretending. She covered her eyes, and let her shoulders drop, and finally she began to cry.”
This time Yolanda was silent. She waited.
“Then why’d you stick that card in my face?” Delia asked finally, wiping her nose on her sleeve.
“Fakin’ it. Just like you been doin’.”
“You won’t tell?” Delia asked after a moment.
“Who am I gonna tell? And who would believe me anyway? Everybody knows how much I lie.”
“You got that right.”
“I don’t know how you managed to get this far without being able to read and without anybody figuring it out.”
“I fooled you, didn’t I?”
“For a while. I sat right next to you through most of elementary school. I thought you were reading, at first.”
“Mostly I was copying off your paper.”
“Get outta here!” Yolanda pretended she was shocked. “Seriously, I guess I knew, even before I really figured it all out, but how’d you fool all the teachers?”
How indeed? As an eighth grader, Delia is totally immersed in the upcoming Double Dutch (jump roping) competition, and all seems to be going well until she finds that, if she doesn’t pass the upcoming achievement exams, she will be barred from competing. She would not only let herself down, but her teammates as well—and everyone would learn her secret—that she could not read. What Delia doesn’t know is that she’s not the only one with a secret. How did Delia fake her way through reading, at school and at home, for 8 years? Will the scary new kids really “cross the line from intimidation to violence?” What happened to Randy’s father? Will Delia get to compete in the upcoming championships?
Read and see.