9780385735452

Playing with Matches

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780385735452

  • ISBN10:

    0385735456

  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 10/13/2009
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf

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Summary

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEON SANDERS has a mug that looks like it should be hanging in a post office somewhere. If he didn't have his twisted sense of humor, he'd have nothing at all. So it's no wonder to Leon and his friends that the gorgeous Amy Green will never even look twice at him. However, there is one girl who might: Melody Hennon. Everyone at Zumner High keeps their distance from Melody because she was burned in a childhood accident. Leon has avoided her, too, until the day he tells her a bad joke and makes her laugh. Although Leon worries what people will think of him dating Melody, he's happy to have someone in his life who thinks he's special. That is, happy until Amy Green asks him out after Leon saves her from getting detention. Will Leon give up a shot with the Beauty so that he can live the fairy tale with the Beast? From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Brian Katcher is a school librarian and lives in Missouri with his wife and baby daughter.

Excerpts

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE

"So I was reading this Vonnegut novel," I said to Samantha. "The main guy figures out that the number of people he's killed and the number of women he's slept with are the same."
Samantha didn't look up from her newspaper, as if she hadn't heard me. I went on.
"It was seventy-two."
Samantha pointedly turned a page. Every morning, we would repeat this ritual. She would sit at a cafeteria table, bottle of water to her left, low-fat bran muffin to her right, copy of the St. Louis Post in front of her. I would sit opposite and talk at her until she could no longer concentrate.
I continued my literary review. "So do you think that number's kind of high?"
Samantha folded her paper with a sigh. "For what, Leon? Killing people or sleeping around?"
"Either."
Samantha always reminded me of a splinter of flint. She was narrow, hard, and angular. At seventeen, she was already a little old lady, with rimless glasses, short hair, and an enormous nose. Her breasts didn't sag, of course; she didn't really have any.
"Leon, how would I know? Why do you always want to discuss things like this?" She returned to her paper. The first-hour bell wouldn't ring for a few minutes, and I looked around the cafeteria for a distraction.
The Zummer High lunchroom was immense. Early-morning sunshine streamed pleasantly over us, thanks to some slanting windows near the ceiling. Now that spring was here, the windows turned the cafeteria into an unbearable greenhouse. At one end of the room, a poorly painted dog declared GO ZUMMER BULLDOGS! On the opposite wall, a portrait of General Montgomery Zummer glared at us over the soda machines. He'd once slaughtered many Indians on this very spot, back when St. Christopher, Missouri, was still just a frontier outpost.
Around us, teenagers poured into the school, back from spring break. A sea of white faces. Suburban students, all dressed in the same clothes, telling the same stories, sharing the same hive mind. If there was one thing more depressing than a suburban high school, it was a suburban high school in Missouri.
I turned back to Samantha. "You know, it's the same with me, Sam. I've killed and slept with the same number of people."
She didn't look at me. "A nice, round number, Leon?" She drew a zero in the air with her finger.
"It's bound to change."
Samantha took a swig of Evian. "Who are you planning on killing?"
I shoved the rest of her bran muffin into my mouth. Samantha had guessed my number correctly. Zero was the number of times I'd had sex. And the number of dates I'd had since the fall. Here it was, just after spring break of my junior year. I hadn't had a date since Angie Herber and I had made out after the homecoming game. She gave me the "just friends" speech the next day.
Why did every girl want to be my friend? They didn't even want that; Samantha was the only girl who came close to being my friend. Or my only friend who came close to being a girl.
The warning bell rang. Actually, it wasn't a bell but a long droning buzzer that grated on my nerves like an early-morning car alarm.
Students began to lumber to class. Samantha neatly separated her recyclables, grabbed her books, and walked away.
"Hey, Samantha," I hollered. "What's your number?"
She turned and indicated a digit with her middle finger.


Older high schools are architectural wonders, with the ornate exteriors, wooden trim, and murals by long-dead alumni. Newer schools are marvels of the twenty-first century, with gleaming metal fixtures, air-conditioning, and toilets that flushed.
Monty Zummer had been built in the 1960s. That meant blocky. Ugly. Cramped. Three generations of Zummer students had attended what was essentially an enormous bomb shelter. We used to joke that a busload of mental patients

Excerpted from Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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