Every Exquisite Thing EXTRACT

The story follows Nanette O'Hare, an inconspicuous teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. Then, her favourite teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper - the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic and the rebel within Nanette awakens. As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world, Nanette has to learn the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

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1. You’ve Got to Meet Him Yourself

When school started up again in January, I was waiting in the hallway with my back against Mr. Graves’s classroom door. 

“Did you sleep here last night, Nanette? The sun isn’t even up yet,” he joked when he arrived. 

“What happens to Wrigley?” I asked. “I have to know. Because Wrigley is me. And it just can’t end like that. It. Just. Can’t.” 

“Why not?” 

“Because I need more.”

“Always leave them wanting more. That’s one of the great rules of show business.”  “This isn’t show business. This is  literature. And it’s my life, too,” I said. “This book is  me. Me. It’s so much more than a story. The author has a responsibility to provide answers.  All  the answers!” 

Mr. Graves smiled, laughed, and said, “I thought you would like  Th e Bubblegum Reaper.  Like I said—a   rite of passage for weirdos like us.”

Mr. Graves was always using the word  weirdo  to describe himself and people he liked. He said that all the great writers were “weirdos,” too—t hat our best artists, musicians, and thinkers were first labeled  weird  in high school or “when they were young.” That was “the price of admission.” 

“Why is it called  The Bubblegum Reaper, anyway?” I said. 

“Why do you think?” 

“I have no idea. That’s why I’m asking you!” 

He laughed. “Well, there are many theories.” 

“I did an Internet search already. I’m not buying what’s out there.” 

“Then maybe you should ask the author yourself.” 

“How can I do that?”

“Mr. Booker actually lives within walking distance of this school. Did you know that?” 

“Are you even serious?”

Mr. Graves smiled like he had been leading me down a path without my knowing it. “And I hear that if you offer to buy him a cup of coffee at the House, he’ll speak with you. Although I should warn you that he never, ever gives a straight answer. And I think he actually hates The Bubblegum Reaper  now.” 

“How do you know that?”

 “Because I wrote him many letters when I was a teenager, until he finally met with the  sixteen- year- old me.” 

“What did he say?”

“Oh, I’m not going to spoil it for you. You’ve got to meet him yourself. It’s definitely  an experience. One that I’m pretty sure I can arrange for you. That  is—  if you’re game.”

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