Excerpt of See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
(Page 2 of 6)
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Tell me again why youre dragging us to the restaurant,
Mom, Holden says, leaning as far away from
Charlie as he can in case he decides to fling one of his
finds in Holdens direction.
I told you its a surprise, my mom answers.
Yay! Charlie reaches for my ear. He loves playing
with peoples ears when hes not picking his nose or
talking to Doll, the plastic baby he found in the memory
trunk in my closet, where I put all my old toys and
which was supposed to be private.
Stop it, I mutter, flicking his sticky hand away.
Doll sits on his lap, facing forward, her naked bottom
balanced on his knees.
You need to put some clothes on her, I tell
He giggles and makes her dance naked in the air.
When my parents told us my mom was having a
baby, they said we kids could pick a name together.
My favorite book at the time was Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory. We all agreed that if we had to
have a new brother, one like Charlie would be OK. We
thought hed be destined to be the kind of kid whod get
picked to ride in the great glass elevator. The sweet kid.
The smart kid. The quiet kid. So far, it seemed like our
Charlie wasnt quite filling the bill.
Mom? Holden asks again. Is this a Dad surprise?
It better not be, Sara answers. She fidgets with
her dreadlocks and flips down the sun visor so she can
look at herself in the mirror. Saras trying to be a Dead
Head, like my parents were before they had us kids.
Only the Grateful Dead doesnt even exist anymore, so I
dont know what thats all about.
I dont know exactly what your father has
planned, my mom says. But please, kids, try to
humor him, OK?
Humoring my dad means humiliation for us.
The last time Dad had a surprise, it involved
the most embarrassing family/business Christmas card
in history. My dad and mom dressed up as Santa and
Mrs. Claus, and Holden, Sara, and I were forced to be
elves. Charlie was Rudolph, but he kept pulling off his
red nose so he could pick at the real one underneath it.
Charlie reaches for my ear again.
Stop it! I yell.
Fern, please. He only does it because he loves
you, my mom says.
I love you, Ferny, Charlie says in his extra- baby
Whatever, I say, looking out the window.
Whatevuh, Charlie repeats.
Please dont teach him that, Fern. Its bad enough
coming from you.
I sigh and stare out the window. I can feel Charlie
reaching Doll out to dance at me, but I ignore him.
Whatevuh, he makes Doll whisper in my ear.
Charlie has trouble pronouncing his rs except when he
says my name. My mom says this is the greatest compliment
Charlie could possibly give, working so hard to
say my name correctly. I guess its true, but Charlie is so
annoying so often, its hard to feel flattered.
I just want you to know, Holden says to my mom,
if this has anything to do with the annual Christmas
card, Im telling you right now, there is no way Im
wearing elf ears again.
Charlie pulls Doll away from me and reaches for
Listen, my mom says, all serious. Im sure whatever
your dad has planned will be fine. He loves you.
Hes just trying to do what he thinks is best for the
What about whats best for us? Sara asks.
Its all the same. If the business does well, then
we do well, my mom says, quoting one of my dads
Excerpted from See You at Harry's
by Jo Knowles. Copyright © 2012 by Jo Knowles.
Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.