Julie Buxbaum's 'Tell Me Three Things' cover and excerpt | EW.com

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See the cover and read an exclusive excerpt from Julie Buxbaum's 'Tell Me Three Things'

In Julie Buxbaum’s forthcoming YA novel, Tell Me Three Things, a girl named Jessie has to navigate life at her new high school in Los Angeles, having moved halfway across the country with her father and awful stepmother just two years after her mom died. She’s forced to go it alone — until she gets a mysterious email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (or “SN”), offering to help her out. As their friendship deepens, Jessie has to decide whether to meet SN in person, or keep this mystery under wraps.

Tell Me Three Things hits shelves April 5, 2016, but to tide you over, check out an exclusive excerpt below:

TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum

CHAPTER ONE

Seven hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the Internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California, and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives. Which would be weird, an anonymous letter just popping up like that in my in-box, signed with the bizarre alias Somebody Nobody, no less, except my life has become so unrecognizable lately that nothing feels shocking anymore. It took until now—seven hundred and thirty-three whole days in which I’ve felt the opposite of normal—for me to discover this one important life lesson: turns out you can grow immune to weird.

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: your Wood Valley H.S. spirit guide

hey there, Ms. Holmes. we haven’t met irl, and I’m not sure we ever will. I mean, we probably will at some point—maybe I’ll ask you the time or something equally mundane and beneath both of us—but we’ll never actually get to know each other, at least not in any sort of real way that matters … which is why I figured I’d email you under the cloak of anonymity.

and yes, I realize I’m a sixteen-year-old guy who just used the words “cloak of anonymity.” and so there it is already: reason #1 why you’ll never get to know my real name. I could never live the shame of that pretentiousness down.

“cloak of anonymity”? seriously?

and yes, I also realize that most people would have just texted, but couldn’t figure out how to do that without telling you who I am.

I have been watching you at school. not in a creepy way. though I wonder if even using the word “creepy” by definition makes me creepy? anyhow, it’s just … you intrigue me. you must have noticed already that our school is a wasteland of mostly blond, vacant-eyed Barbies and Kens, and something about you—not just your newness, because sure, the rest of us have all been going to school together since the age of five—but something about the way you move and talk and actually don’t talk but watch all of us like we are part of some bizarre National Geographic documentary makes me think that you might be different from all the other idiots at school.

you make me want to know what goes on in that head of yours. I’ll be honest: I’m not usually interested in the contents of other people’s heads. my own is work enough.

the whole point of this email is to offer my expertise. sorry to be the bearer of bad news: navigating the wilds of Wood Valley High School ain’t easy. this place may look all warm and welcoming, with our yoga and meditation and reading corners and coffee cart (excuse me: Koffee Kart), but like every other high school in America (or maybe even worse), this place is a freaking war zone.

and so I hereby offer up myself as your virtual spirit guide. feel free to ask any question (except of course my identity), and I’ll do my best to answer: who to befriend (short list), who to stay away from (longer list), why you shouldn’t eat the veggie burgers from the cafeteria (long story that you don’t want to know involving jock jizz), how to get an A in Mrs. Stewart’s class, and why you should never sit near Ken Abernathy (flatulence issue). Oh, and be careful in gym. Mr. Shackleman makes all the pretty girls run extra laps so he can look at their asses.

That feels like enough information for now.

and fwiw, welcome to the jungle.

yours truly, Somebody Nobody

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: Elaborate hoax?

SN: Is this for real? Or is this some sort of initiation prank, à la a dumb rom-com? You’re going to coax me into sharing my deepest, darkest thoughts/fears, and then, BAM, when I least expect it, you’ll post them on Tumblr and I’ll be the laughingstock of WVHS? If so, you’re messing with the wrong girl. I have a black belt in karate. I can take care of myself.

If not a joke, thanks for your offer, but no thanks. I want to be an embedded journalist one day. Might as well get used to war zones now. And anyhow, I’m from Chicago. I think I can handle the Valley.

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: not a hoax, elaborate or otherwise

promise this isn’t a prank. and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a rom-com. shocking, I know. hope this doesn’t reveal some great deficiency in my character.

you do know journalism is a dying field, right? maybe you should aspire to be a war blogger.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: Specifically targeted spam?

Very funny. Wait, is there really sperm in the veggie burgers?

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: you, Jessie Holmes, have won $100,000,000 from a Nigerian prince.

not just sperm but sweaty lacrosse sperm.

I’d avoid the meat loaf too, just to be on the safe side. in fact, stay out of the cafeteria altogether. that shit will give you salmonella.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: Will send my bank account details ASAP.

who are you?

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: and copy of birth certificate & driver’s license, please.

nope. not going to happen.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: And, of course, you need my social security number too, right?

Fine. But tell me this at least: what’s up with the lack of capital letters? Your shift key broken?

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: and height and weight, please

terminally lazy.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: NOW you’re getting personal.

Lazy and verbose. Interesting combo. And yet you do take the time to capitalize proper nouns?

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: and mother’s maiden name

I’m not a complete philistine.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: Lazy, verbose, AND nosy

“Philistine” is a big word for a teenage guy.

 

To: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

From: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

Subject: lazy, verbose, nosy, and … handsome

that’s not the only thing that’s … whew. caught myself from making the obvious joke just in time. you totally set me up, and I almost blew it.

 

To: Somebody Nobody (somebodynobo@gmail.com)

From: Jessie A. Holmes (jesster567@gmail.com)

Subject: Lazy, verbose, nosy, handsome, and … modest

That’s what she said.

 

See, that’s the thing with email. I’d never say something like that in person. Crude. Suggestive. Like I am the kind of girl who could pull off that kind of joke. Who, face to face with an actual member of the male species, would know how to flirt, and flip my hair, and, if it came to it, know how to do much more than kiss. (For the record, I do know how to kiss. I’m not saying I’d ace an AP exam on the subject or, you know, win Olympic gold, but I’m pretty sure I’m not awful. I know this purely by way of comparison. Adam Kravitz. Ninth grade. Him: all slobber and angry, rhythmic tongue, like a zombie trying to eat my head. Me: all-too-willing participant, with three days of face chafing.)

Email is much like an ADD diagnosis. Guaranteed extra time on the test. In real life, I constantly rework conversations after the fact in my head, edit them until I’ve perfected my witty, lighthearted, effortless banter—all the stuff that seems to come naturally to other girls. A waste of time, of course, because by then I’m way too late. In the Venn diagram of my life, my imagined personality and my real personality have never converged. Over email and text, though, I am given those few additional beats I need to be the better, edited version of myself. To be that girl in the glorious intersection.

I should be more careful. I realize that now. That’s what she said. Really? Can’t decide if I sound like a frat boy or a slut; either way, I don’t sound like me. More importantly, I have no idea who I am writing to. Unlikely that SN truly is some do-gooder who feels sorry for the new girl. Or better yet, a secret admirer. Because of course that’s straight where my brain went, the result of a lifetime of devouring too many romantic comedies and reading too many improbable books. Why do you think I kissed Adam Kravitz? He was my neighbor back in Chicago. What better story is there than the girl who discovers that true love has been waiting right next door all along? Of course, my neighbor turned out to be a zombie with carbonated saliva, but no matter. Live and learn.

Surely SN is a cruel joke. He’s probably not even a he. Just a mean girl preying on the weak. Because let’s face it: I am weak. Possibly even pathetic. I lied. I don’t have a black belt in karate. I am not tough. Until last month, I thought I was. I really did. Life threw its punches, I got shat on, but I took it in the mouth, to mix my metaphors. Or not. Sometimes it felt just like getting shat on in the mouth. My only point of pride: no one saw me cry. And then I became the new girl at WVHS, in this weird area called the Valley, which is in Los Angeles but not in Los Angeles or something like that, because my dad married this rich lady who smells like fancy almonds, and juice costs twelve dollars here, and I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

I am as lost and confused and alone as I have ever been. No, high school will never be a time I look back on fondly. My mom once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: the ones who love their high school years and the ones who spend the next decade recovering from them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, she said.

But something did kill her, and I’m not stronger. So go figure; maybe there’s a third kind of person: the ones who never recover from high school at all.

 

Excerpt copyright © 2016 by Julie R. Buxbaum, Inc. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.