"I have promised to be a model citizen daughter....I have confined my Shrimp time to making out with him in the Java the Hut supply closet and quick feels on the cold hard sand at the beach during our breaks, but enough is enough....Delia and I are planning a party at Wallace and Shrimp's house and I am spending the night whether Sid and Nancy notice or not. I will be as wild as I wanna be."
After being kicked out of a fancy New England boarding school, Cyd Charisse is back home in San Francisco with her parents, Sid and Nancy, in a household that drives her crazy. Lucky for Cyd, she's always had Gingerbread, her childhood rag doll and confidante.
After Cyd tests her parents' permissiveness, she is grounded in Alcatraz (as Cyd calls her room) and forbidden to see Shrimp, her surfer boyfriend. But when her incarceration proves too painful for the whole family, Cyd's parents decide to send her to New York to meet her biological father and his family, whom Cyd has always longed to know.
Summer in the city is not what Cyd Charisse expects -- and Cyd isn't what her newfound family expects, either.
With Gingerbread, debut author Rachel Cohn creates a spirited world of in-your-face characters who are going to stay with readers for a long time.
My so-called parents hate my boyfriend, Shrimp. I'm not sure they even believe he is my boyfriend. They take one look at his five-foot-five, surfer-shirt-wearin', baggy-jeans-slouchin', Pop Tart-eatin', spiked-hair-head self and you can just see confusion firebombs exploding in their heads, like they are thinking, Oh no, Cyd Charisse, that young man is not your homes.
Dig this: He is.
At least Shrimp always remembers to call my mother "Mrs." instead of just grunting in her direction, like most guys my age do. And no parent could deny that hanging out with Shrimp is an improvement over Justin, my ex, from my old prep school. Justin got me into trouble, big time. I'm so over the Justin stage.
Not like Sid and Nancy care much. I have done my parents the favor of becoming more or less invisible.
Sid, my father, calls me a "recovering hellion." Sid's actually my stepfather. You could say I hardly know my real father. I met him at an airport once when I was five. He was tall and skinny and had ink black hair, like me. We ate lunch in a smoky pub at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I did not like my hamburger so my real dad opened his briefcase and offered me a piece of homemade gingerbread he had wrapped in tinfoil.
He bought me a brown rag doll at the airport gift shop. The cashier had made the doll herself. She said she had kept the doll hidden under her cash register waiting for just the right little girl. My real dad gave the cashier a one-hundred-dollar bill and told her to keep the change. I named my dolly Gingerbread.
Nancy and I were on our way to San Francisco to become Sid's family. My real dad was on his way back to New York, to his real wife and family. They don't know about me.
I'm fairly sure that my real dad's wife would not mind that I make scissors cuts on my arms and then pick the scabs. His real wife probably makes fresh gingerbread every day and writes Things To Do lists and does her own grocery shopping instead of having a housekeeper and a driver do everything for her, like Nancy does.
Nancy only met Justin once, at the expulsion hearing. The headmaster told her Justin and I were caught fooling around in a room loaded with Jack Daniels and prescription bottles. In flagrante delicto were the words the headmaster used. I failed Latin.
Nancy said Justin was from a "wonderful Connecticut family" and how could I shame her and Sid like that. It was Justin who was selling the ecstasy out of his dorm room, not me. It was Justin who said he pulled out in time. Sid and Nancy never knew about that part.
Nancy came into my room one night after I returned home to San Francisco. Sid and my younger half-sibs were at Father's Night at their French immersion school. "I hope your friends use condoms," Nancy said, which was funny because she knows Shrimp is my only friend. She threw a box of Trojans onto the lace-trimmed four-poster bed that I hate. Shrimp is a safety boy, he takes care of those things. If it had been Shrimp back in boarding school, he would have come with me to the clinic.
"Can I have a futon on the floor instead of this stupid princess bed?" I said. The thought of my mother even knowing about contraception, much less doling it out, was beyond comprehension, much less discussion.
Nancy sighed. Sighing is what she does instead of eating. "I paid ten thousand dollars to redecorate this room while you were at boarding school. No, you may not, Cyd Charisse."
Everybody in my family calls me by my first and middle name since my dad's name is pronounced the same as my first name. When she was twenty years old and pregnant with me, Nancy thought she would eventually marry my real dad. She named me after this dancer-actress from like a million years ago who starred in this movie that Nancy and real-dad saw on their first date, before she found out he had a whole other life. The real Cyd Charisse is like this incredibly beautiful sex goddess. I am okay looking. I could never be superhuman sexy like the real Cyd Charisse. I mean there is only room for so much grace and beauty in one person named Cyd Charisse, not two.
Nancy fished a pack of Butter Rum LifeSavers out of her designer jacket and held them out to me. "Want a piece of my dinner?"
Rachel Cohn is the bestselling author of You Know Where to Find Me, Gingerbread, Shrimp, Cupcake, Pop Princess, and, with David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares as well as the tween novels The Steps and Two Steps Forward. Born in Washington, DC, she graduated from Barnard College in New York and has lived on both coasts. She lives in Los Angeles. Visit her at RachelCohn.com.
"Why You'll Dig it: Likeable Cyd will seem like one of your buds."
– Twist Magazine
"[This] is not just Another Teen Novel: It's pretty edgy."
"Cyd Charisse embodies the child/woman nature of adolescence as she tows her doll, Gingerbread, through life."
– Kirkus Reviews
"[A] funny, bicoastal story of a dysfunctional family. All high school and public libraries should add the irrepressible Cyd to their shelves."
*"[Cyd's] magnetic narrative will keep readers hooked."
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
*"Funny and irreverent reading with teen appeal that's right on target."
– School Library Journal, starred review
"Any teen who loves wit and language is going to devour this."
– New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Like its heroine, this coming-of-age story is smart-mouthed and testy."
– Horn Book
"[Appeals] to more sophisticated teenage girls with a taste for romance and drama."
*"Cyd's interactions with other characters in the colorful cast are the stuff of authenticity: her and her mother's volatile relationship is one of the most realistically depcited in YA literature, while her sweet, affectionate connection to hernewfound older brother shows Cyd at her best. This is a sparkling authorial debut featuring a memorable YA heroine."
– BCCB, starred review
"[Teens] will recognize themselves in Cyd's complex, believable mix of arch and vulnerable, self-aware and self-destructive, and also in her struggle between freedom and the protective safety of family."
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