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Excerpt from This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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This Must Be the Place

A Novel

by Kate Racculia

This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia X
This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2010, 368 pages

    Jul 2011, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

But one month to the day after her twelfth birthday, during a science lesson about the properties of light, Oneida Jones woke up. The tiny voice in her head, that had whispered You're weird, nobody likes you, they all think you're a freak, from the moment she climbed on the bus in the morning until she opened her front door in the afternoon, stopped speaking. In the silence, Oneida could finally hear what was happening around her. Jessi Krenshaw was asking Mr. Buckley to explain the difference between reflection and reflaction—again—and Mr. Buckley replied in his most sanctimonious tone that light reflacted when it bounced off a surface at an angle.

"What does reflacted light do? Like, can we use it for anything?" asked Jessi.

"Reflaction," said Mr. Buckley, "is one of the main principles behind lasers. It's the reflacting power of light that make lasers possible."

Oneida felt like she'd had a bucket of ice water dumped over her head. Exhibit A: Mr. B had never shown signs of a speech impediment, which, to her mind, was the only excuse for thinking reflact was a word. Exhibit B: He was wrong. He was just wrong. Refraction occurred when light passed through substances and appeared to bend; refraction was what happened in prisms, not lasers. She knew she was right because she'd spent the previous weekend poring through the L volume of the World Book Encyclopedia (legislature, light, lunar eclipse), not to mention she'd done the homework. She looked around the classroom. No one else was paying attention: they were scribbling in notebooks, winding hair around fingers, staring into space. And Mr. B just kept saying it: "Light hits the pavement and reflacts in all different directions"; "If light hits a mirror, do we think it will reflect or reflact?" Oneida put her hand over her mouth to quell the wild whoop of laughter that was building in her body, because she had just figured it all out: If being a freak meant she was the only one in the room to realize her teacher was a complete dumb-ass, then she'd be a freak and be proud of it. In that moment, she consciously chose the lonely, superior life of freakdom. It was a life she was already living anyway, but she accepted it on the basis that it was better to be lonely and right than stupid with friends.

That was the credo by which her entire existence took shape, the mantra that she'd repeat to herself when she moved up to the combined junior-senior high, through middle school and into her freshman and sophomore years, whenever her mother asked if she was having trouble: she never had friends over, she never asked for a ride to the movies or the mall. Better lonely and right than stupid with friends, she'd think, and tell Mona that the other kids weren't interesting. They didn't understand her and it was pointless to pretend she cared about useless things like who was taking who to homecoming and who said what on Face-book and blah blah boring.

"They can't all be bad," Mona would say. "There were plenty of boring people in my class, too, but there were a few worthy souls. You just have to figure out how to recognize each other." Oneida, aside from finding this almost impossible to believe, chafed at her mother's suggestion that the reason she didn't have any friends was because she wasn't trying hard enough. What the hell did her mother know? Mona didn't have to spend the day bouncing from class to class, struggling to stay awake and interested, when all she really wanted to do was curl up with a book and teach herself what she really wanted to know—which, incidentally, was everything, something she was fairly certain was absent from the curriculum at Ruby Falls High.

And then her sophomore year Andrew Lu transferred into the district, and Oneida understood what her mother meant about recognizing worthy souls.

Andrew Lu was beautiful. He was an athlete with skin the color of milky tea and warm dark eyes. He was also the only Asian in the entire school system, and rumor held that he had been born and raised in China until he was eight. He spoke three languages—English, Chinese, and French. He signed up for cross-country, the fall sport for smart jocks, and when he walked through the hall, cool rolled off him in waves. Oneida didn't understand how anyone under the age of eighteen could possibly be as comfortable in his own skin as Andrew Lu was. She envied him. He fascinated her. She wanted to ask him how he did it: how could he be so confident and yet so different from everyone else?

Excerpted from This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia. Copyright © 2010 by Kate Racculia. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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