Excerpt from The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Second Life of Abigail Walker

By Frances O'Roark Dowell

The Second Life of Abigail Walker
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2012,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2013,
    256 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Abby looked around at the six girls at the table. Kristen, Georgia, Rachel, Casey, Myla, and Bess. They all weighed around ninety. They were all medium girls. They were medium smart, medium good at sports, their families had a medium amount of money. Kristen was the most important, and Abby was the least. She knew to stay quiet most of the time. To keep her opinions to herself. She was doing her best to be the most medium of the medium girls so that no one would notice her.

Abby knew she needed to be careful. If she said the wrong thing now, that would be two strikes. Then she'd probably do something stupid on the bus and Kristen would say, "Strike three!" and give her that dead-fish-eye look that meant Abby was all the way on the outside again. Then she'd have to sit at the very end of the table at lunch while everyone gave her the silent treatment, depending on the occasional sympathetic glance from Bess or Casey to get her through the period. Abby looked down at her sandwich. It was tuna on homemade wheat bread. Her mother put two more teaspoons of honey in her dough than the recipe called for, so the bread was a little extra sweet, but not too sweet. Abby's mother wanted her to be friends with Kristen and Georgia. Abby's mother wanted her to be happy.

This bread makes me happy, Abby thought. Being friends with Kristen doesn't.

"Well?" Kristen said in a voice that suggested she was ready for Abby to show her the proper respect so they all could get on with eating their lunches. "Don't you think throwing up is a way you could lose weight?"

Abby opened her mouth to give the answer that would satisfy Kristen. But different words, unexpected words, came out. "I think it sounds sick. Like something you would have to be mentally ill to do."

Everyone at the table grew very, very quiet. Georgia, who had been crumpling a chip bag, stopped mid-crumple.

Kristen smiled, unconcerned. "Well, I think fat people are mentally ill. In fact, I read an article that said that."

"Or, like, emotionally stunted," Georgia added. "You know, nobody loves them, so they eat all the time."

Abby almost said, Maybe. She almost said, I think I read that article too. She almost said the sort of thing she always said, so no one would be mad at her. But she didn't. Instead she slowly put her sandwich back into her lunch bag. She stood up. Her legs felt shaky. The skin around her eyes and nose was cold, as though she'd just dipped her face in ice.

"What are you doing?" Kristen asked her. "Sit down."

Abby didn't reply. She thought that if she opened her mouth, she might throw up. What's gotten into you? she could hear her mom cry out. Abby wanted to cry back, I don't know!

She started walking toward the cafeteria exit. Something hit her in the back of the legs. When she looked down, she saw Georgia's crumpled chip bag.

Well, she thought, pushing open the door with her shoulder. I guess that's that.

And for the rest of the afternoon, until the last bell rang, little sparks of light flashed from her fingers. No one else could see them, but she could.

Excerpted from The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell. Copyright © 2012 by Frances O'Roark Dowell. Excerpted by permission of Atheneum Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Wendell Berry

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  88Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.