Four minutes. That is all it took for 17 year old Hadley Sullivan’s life to get turned upside down.
She was in the airport and going to board a plane to England where she was going to be the bridesmaid in her father’s wedding, where he planned to marry the woman who broke up his first marriage to Hadley’s mom in the first place, her future stepmother who she has never even met. But she missed boarding the flight by four minutes. Get all that? Basically, her life seemed kind of stunk right then.
She books a later flight and her luck turns. There in in the gate waiting area, she meets Oliver, a very cute British guy who is returning home to take care of some unpleasant business of his own. They instantly hit it off and are happy to learn that their seats are next to each other on the night-long flight. They flirt, they tell each other things they had never shared with anyone else. They arrive in the London airport. They kiss. In short, it is love at first sight.
But then the odds that seemed to be so in her favor from the previous night seem to go the other way again. Hadley has to rush through the airport to her catch a cab to get to her father’s wedding in time. And she loses Oliver along the way.
Now she has one day to see her father get married and then go find the boy of her dreams somewhere in the streets of London before she loses him forever.
Let me start by saying that this books ends really badly. It’s not a spoiler. It is in the first paragraph of the book.
[Read the first paragraph of the book.]
When it all started, they all thought it was a good idea, or at least a harmless one. Even the school principal was on board. Coop, Young and the Bobster always went along with whatever schemes Rob Haynes came up with. He was the leader of their group of friends and one of the most popular kids at school. The plan was to take Simon Glass–an overweight, awkward nerd–and make him popular. It was just the sort of challenge that Rob loved.
But what they didn’t count on were the lies, manipulation, the secrets that would be uncovered. And worst of all, they didn’t know what Simon himself would do.
It all started one morning before school had even started for the day. Piddy Sanchez had just moved to a new school after she and her mom moved across town from their old apartment. A girl she barely knows comes up to her in the hallway and says, “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass…” She has never even heard of anyone named Yaqui Delgado, and she definitely doesn’t know what she could have done to make her mad.
Piddy was trying to keep a low profile. She already has enough to deal with–new school and trying to fit in and keep up with her classes, her best friend who just moved to the suburbs, and trying to hold down a job after school because she really needs the money. And worst of all, Piddy has never met her father and her mom refuses to give her any details about who he really was.
But after that morning, as the harassment from Yaqui and her gang start to escalate, Piddy learns what it’s like be a target for a bully. She learns what it’s like to have an enemy who can make all her other problems seem easy by comparison, and who can make her life a living nightmare.
Gray Wilton keeps telling himself that everything is going to be different this time. After he was suspended twice in middle school for carrying a knife, Gray’s father moved the family from Massachusetts to this new home in Connecticut. Not that they understood how bad the bullies had gotten in that school. He was just defending himself. His family hopes it will be a fresh start for them.
Gray makes a new friend, he is interested in a cute girl and he gets to play the drums in the school band, But then a few of the Varsity football players start picking on him and his friend Ross– relentlessly. Then his grades start to drop, his dad starts to check his backpack for knives and the bullying gets worse. Is there anything that Gray can do? He doesn’t feel like he has anywhere to turn because even the teachers turn their heads to the bullying because the bullies are football players.
He feels like he only has one option–one that involves his father’s semiautomatic pistol.
I created this video when I was trying to learn some video and audio techniques. It uses Levine’s voice reading the poem, some other clips and creative commons music. The video clips and pictures are from the 1967 race riots in Detroit. I was just looking around for some more information about the poem and I found that this site had used the video. Kind of cool.