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Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

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Excerpt

andlt;bandgt;andlt;BRandgt;May 5andlt;/bandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The knife came out of nowhere.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben Bright sprang back. His arm knocked the weapon into the shadows and nearly clocked his best friend, Niko Petropoulos.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nervous, are we?and#8221; Niko said.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben felt his heart race. His best friend was Sharked up, his hair slicked back and a cigarette pack rolled in his sleeve. Up close he looked ridiculous, and on a normal day Ben would have laughed in his face.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But not today. Today he wanted to shove Niko through the curtain. Or weep. Instead, the two impulses met in the middle and canceled each other out, and he said, and#8220;You scared me.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;That makes two of us. Look what you did.and#8221; Niko lifted his shirt, revealing an ugly, purplish bruise. and#8220;I would like you to stab me again. And do it right this time.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The bruise looked like a piece of steak or a great big rotten cabbage. Or the map of a distant, dead planet. and#8220;I did that?and#8221; Ben said.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;At dress rehearsal. You had your finger hooked around the blade, so it didnand#8217;t retract.and#8221; Niko was staring at him strangely. He lowered his shirt and leaned forward, raising an eyebrow. and#8220;Whatand#8217;s up?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nothing,and#8221; Ben lied.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You look like youand#8217;re about to pass out, or get sick. Which is okay. Nerves are normal. People hurl on opening nights, all the time. Just donand#8217;t do it here. Youand#8217;ve already abused me enough. Youand#8217;re graduating. Iand#8217;ve got another year for humiliation.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I donand#8217;t have to hurl. Iand#8217;m okay.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Ladies and gentlemen.and#8221; Niko pantomimed holding a mike. and#8220;Tonight. andlt;iandgt;West Sideandlt;/iandgt;andlt;iandgt;Storyandlt;/iandgt;. Eastport High School, New York. A performance that redefines Method actingand#8212;Tony actually andlt;iandgt;killsandlt;/iandgt; Bernardo. Casting for replacement. Must be unbelievably buff and own a Kevlar vest. Details at eleven.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Now everyone was staring: The sophomore playing Riff. Three Latino cast members practicing the Mambo. The weird little wardrobe kid who smelled like wet shoes. Which just made Ben feel worse. He hated keeping secrets. He hated doing things without telling anybody. He had to make it through this day, just this day. He could tell people tomorrow.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;For now, he wanted to freeze time. To photograph them all and hold this moment tight, so he could retrieve it a month from now. So he could feel everythingand#8212;the opening-night mania, the way Nikoand#8217;s comments made him tongue-tied and unclever, the curve of his girlfriend Arielaand#8217;s back as she stretched at the barre. The way everyone shut up and paid attention whenever he appeared onstage. All the stuff he would be leaving behind.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He spun and trapped Niko in a headlock. and#8220;Iand#8217;m a spaz, okay? I donand#8217;t belong on the same stage as you.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Murder!and#8221; Niko cried. He jerked loose, shaking his finger. and#8220;This is your inferiority complex. It makes you passive-aggressive. Or just aggressive. You need someone to convince you, for the trillionth time, that youand#8217;re Godand#8217;s gift to the theater. Oy. Someone, please get him a Tony Award before he kills me!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Save the award, Iand#8217;m getting the plastic knife,and#8221; Ben said, turning away.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;That didnand#8217;t make sense. Everything out of his mouth felt andlt;iandgt;offandlt;/iandgt;, like a bad taste. He walked carefully, threading through the squealers and warm-ups and grim line-reciters. His knife would be somewhere among the thicket of legs.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Be-e-e-ennnyyyyy!and#8221; Wendy Leff enveloped Ben in a massive hug. Justin Milstein jumped in on the action, too, then Sarah Welch. The entire cluster nearly collided with Ariela Cruz, who was sitting on the floor near the back wall.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Unhand the Wonk,and#8221; Ariela said. She was in a full split, leaning over a show poster sheand#8217;d just signed.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben gently pushed aside his friends. and#8220;Youand#8217;re my hero,and#8221; he said. and#8220;But . . . Wonk?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I have this new theory,and#8221; she said matter-of-factly. and#8220;There are three types of people who do theater. Type One is the Needies.and#8221; She waggled her fingers at Wendy. and#8220;Theyand#8217;re in it for the love and hugging. Two is the Bloviators, who get off on the attention. That would be cough cough, Niko, cough. And Three is the Wonks, like me and you, the process junkies. Acting, singingand#8212;we just like doing it. Itand#8217;s a andlt;iandgt;goodandlt;/iandgt; Wonkness.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A shrill voice pierced through the noise, and#8220;Half hour, please! Half hour!and#8221; Jeannie Lin, their stage manager, wound her way through the crowd, clutching a clipboard. Seeing Ben, she held out a tired-looking plastic knife and recited in her same announcer-voice, and#8220;And hold on to your props, people!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ariela smiled at her as she marched away. and#8220;I hate when she calls us and#8216;people.and#8217;and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Me too,and#8221; Ben said. and#8220;and#8216;Lords and Ladiesand#8217; would work just fine.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Ha.and#8221; Ariela held out the poster, with a Sharpie balanced on top. and#8220;This is a present for Ms. Moglia. Sign under my name, okay? So Tony and Maria will always be together.and#8221; She batted her eyes with an irony that felt somehow comforting at a time like this.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Arielaand#8217;s name was huge and bold, with a heart sign over the andlt;iandgt;iandlt;/iandgt; and a gushy, theater-y message, but Ben signed only his name in quick, tiny scribble.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Modesty, in a guy, is so hot,and#8221; Ariela said with a sigh.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I suck! I so totally suck!and#8221; Nikoand#8217;s voice eagerly piped up from behind Ben. and#8220;At everything.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Modesty,and#8221; Ariela said, and#8220;not idiocy.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Look what your modest boyfriend did to me,and#8221; Niko said.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben could tell by Arielaand#8217;s nose crinkle that Niko had lifted his shirt again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Heand#8217;s gentler with me. Well, mostly,and#8221; Ariela said. Standing up, she handed Niko the poster. and#8220;See if you can find room for your whole, long Greek name. Or just write and#8216;Douchebag.and#8217; Itand#8217;s shorter. And pass it on when youand#8217;re done.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;With a sly wink at Niko, she gave Ben a kiss and moved to an emptier spot at the barre. and#8220;Donand#8217;t say anything,and#8221; Ben murmured.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You mean, like, and#8216;Lucky bastardand#8217;?and#8221; Niko said. and#8220;Okay, Iand#8217;ll just think it.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Compliment accepted. I think.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;So, have you guys set a date?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Just sign the posterandlt;iandgt;.andlt;/iandgt;and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Niko leaned in closer. and#8220;Iand#8217;m serious. Weand#8217;ve talked about thisand#8212;and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Hypothetically. And in private.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nobodyand#8217;s listening. I find the idea fascinating.and#8221; Niko carefully signed his full name, Nikolaos Dimitrios Petropoulos. and#8220;You and Ariela . . . settling down, getting married, auditioning, living together in some rat-infested love nest in Brooklyn . . . down the block from me and Taylor Swift.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben was in no mood for Nikoand#8217;s predictable unpredictability. and#8220;Later, okay? Sheand#8217;s going to be in Ohio next year. And you know it. If you want to rehearse, come find me.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He began walking away to look for a quieter, less annoying spot.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;And you? Where are you going? How come you never talk about that?and#8221; Niko barreled on, following close behind. and#8220;I mean, you and Ariela have been together since you were in diapers, you still love each otherand#8217;s asses, and you both know you couldnand#8217;t do better. So . . . you wouldnand#8217;t do anything stupid to screw that up. Am I right?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben whirled around. and#8220;If this is some kind of nut-job acting exercise, itand#8217;s over. Now letand#8217;s do the scene or go back into your hole.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Niko had a weird look. Ben knew the look. Sometimes when Niko wanted something, he didnand#8217;t give you the pleasure of stating it outright if he could make you guess it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Are you jealous?and#8221; Ben said with exasperation. and#8220;Is that what this is all about? Can you hold it in until after the show?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Come at me.and#8221; Niko struck his fight pose. and#8220;Come on, Tony, you greasy slimebag, Polish gringo. Come and get Bernardo, the brother of your sexy true love.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Twist my arm.and#8221; Making sure to grip the knife with the handle only, Ben lunged at him. Niko flew back, just as rehearsed, and Ben lunged again. He aimed away from the bruise, a couple of inches closer to Nikoand#8217;s midsection, and plunged the knife inward. He could feel the blade retracting smoothly into the hilt on a spring. Heand#8217;d done it right this time. Niko was supposed to flex his torso and freeze for a moment, letting the audience see that heand#8217;d been stabbed. But instead, he grabbed Benand#8217;s arm and flipped him to the floor.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Hey!and#8221; Ben shouted.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Niko was on top of him, pinning him to the dust-covered floorboards. Which was unfair because Niko wrestled varsity.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben forced a laugh. and#8220;Okay, okay, weand#8217;re even. Let go.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Not yet,and#8221; Niko said, his voice a raspy whisper. He leaned closer, his eyes narrowed and angry. and#8220;You got your notice, didnand#8217;t you?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben felt himself grow suddenly cold and numb. and#8220;andlt;iandgt;Whatandlt;/iandgt;?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You donand#8217;t want to say anything because itand#8217;s opening night,and#8221; Niko said. and#8220;Right? Because youand#8217;re such a frigginand#8217; modest Boy Scout. Because youand#8217;re so andlt;iandgt;Itand#8217;sandlt;/iandgt;andlt;iandgt;not about meandlt;/iandgt;.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Asshole.and#8221; Ben struggled but couldnand#8217;t move.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I know what you did. Tell me the truth. Because there are only two things that could make you act so weird. One is that Ariela is pregnantand#8212;so it must be the other thing.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Youand#8217;re freaking crazy.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Crazy but not stupid. If Iand#8217;m wrong, say it. Say and#8216;Youand#8217;re wrong.and#8217; Just those words.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben lurched forward, ramming his forehead into Nikoand#8217;s brow.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;As his best friend fell back with a yowl, Jeannie came running toward them. and#8220;Guys! What are you doing?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben forced a smile. and#8220;Just rehearsing.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nice move.and#8221; Niko rubbed his head. His eyes had changed, as if a cloud front had moved across them. and#8220;Itand#8217;ll come in handy with the ragheads.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Donand#8217;t use that word,and#8221; Ben snapped.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You can tell them, and#8216;Hey, terrorists, itand#8217;s not about andlt;iandgt;youandlt;/iandgt;.and#8217; Teach them the Gospel of Ben and save the world from Islamists.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Um, you guys? Weand#8217;re almost at fifteenand#8212;and#8221; Jeannie said.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;andlt;iandgt;We know, okayandlt;/iandgt;?and#8221; Ben snapped. and#8220;andlt;iandgt;Go awayandlt;/iandgt;.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;As she huffed off, Niko glanced over toward Ariela. and#8220;Have you told her? Iand#8217;m sure sheand#8217;ll be okay with the fact that youand#8217;re giving her up. Not to mention your friends and your future. To join the freaking Army and fight a war we never should have gotten into! And Chris. Whatand#8217;s he going to think? Did you ever think about the fact that your brother needs you more than the Republican party does?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Itand#8217;s not a party, itand#8217;s a country,and#8221; Ben said. and#8220;And Iand#8217;m not going anywhere but boot camp. Just because you and everyone else in this school arenand#8217;t doing what Iand#8217;m doing, doesnand#8217;t make you all right and me wrong.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You want to know whatand#8217;s wrong? Itand#8217;s wrong to waste talent. Itand#8217;s wrong to keep it from the rest of the world. Itand#8217;s selfish.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;There are thousands of people who can act and sing.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;There are thousands of people who can take a bullet for no good reason.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;iandgt;Do. Not. Let. Him. Get. To. You.andlt;/iandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Fifteen minutes, people!and#8221; Jeannie shouted. and#8220;Fifteen!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Ben stood calmly. and#8220;I need to get ready. Do you want to do the scene again?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Niko looked at him dully and turned away. and#8220;Break a leg, Private Bright. And crack a skull while youand#8217;re at it.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#169; 2012 Harry Mazer

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416938958
Author:
Mazer, Harry
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Author:
Lerangis, Peter
Subject:
Children s-Adventure Stories
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20120231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Illustrations:
f-c jkt spfx: matte lam, foil, sculpt em
Pages:
160
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 12

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Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
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Young Adult » General

Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am Used Hardcover
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Product details 160 pages Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - English 9781416938958 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mazer (Heroes Don't Run) and Lerangis (wtf) use strong characters and storytelling to explore the slow and painful recovery of an injured teenage soldier. High school senior Ben has great grades and a potentially bright future in the arts, so his friends, family, and girlfriend are all surprised when he enlists in the military. And they are horrified when he is quickly deployed to Iraq, where he receives a head injury and suffers brain damage in the line of duty. The story is divided into Before, During, and After sections; Mazer and Larangis shift their focus among the prominent people in Ben's life, including his autistic brother, Chris; his best friend, Niko; and his fiancé, Ariela. The authors carefully demonstrate the effect the tragedy has on everyone involved, particularly Ariela's attempts to maintain a social life in college, while vividly bringing Ben's struggles to life. (One chapter simply shows a scribble on a sheet of paper, Ben's attempt to write.) Readers will likely sense where the story is headed, but the journey is powerful and worthwhile. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. Although he will never be the person he once was, this is the story of his struggle and transformation.
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