Excerpt from Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Six Feet Over It

by Jennifer Longo

Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo X
Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2014, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
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prologue

FOR THE BODY you go to the mortuary. A lot of people don't know this. Kids at school don't know this. They think bodies come to us. They also think we're out here at dusk with a pickax and a kerosene lantern, digging graves with a shovel, rotting, moonlit hands reaching from the upturned earth to pull us down with them. So dumb. Digging a grave really requires a backhoe, not just a shovel, and also we never see bodies, dead or undead. By the time we get them they're drained and dressed or burned, in a box and ready to be buried. It's just a cemetery. We're not living in the "Thriller" video.

What's worse is when actual customers don't get that bodies aren't our thing. It's so bad. Awful. Why doesn't anyone tell them how to do it? The logistics? All we do is graves. That's it. Well, and headstones. But they're pretty much part and parcel, so same diff.

Now the Pre-Needs, they know what's up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them. But everyone else—I can't blame them for not knowing because months ago I had no idea either. I have to remember to be patient, because for crying out loud they're here on sometimes the worst day of their lives. But then what do I know? I'm just a fourteen-year-old girl in jeans and a T shirt trying to sell some graves, which—it's just stupid. It looks stupid. I know this, Wade knows this, everyone knows this. It's a really classy way to run a business, making your teenaged daughter sell graves because you're too lazy to look farther than across the dinner table when searching for employees, but that's Wade. No corner is too sacred to cut.

We all pretend it's okay I'm shoving my algebra homework aside to make room for the headstone brochures, the maps showing where to find the best grave sites . . . away from the road, something with a view, maybe near a tree? People and their trees.

A few months and it feels like forever. A few months since we left the ocean, and sitting here with all these dead people has made me a world-weary curmudgeon; everything bugs the crap out of me. I'm turning into Wade. Tall, dark, and probably twice as ridiculous.

"Ever think you'd get to live in a park?" Wade sighs dreamily every ten minutes or so.

A park. Drop that qualifying memorial and it's more than just a creepy euphemism. It is Wade's loving tribute to his greatest real estate conquest ever, his golden ticket away from the drudgery of years in a cramped Re/Max office cubicle. Here he has his very own sovereignty, a million tiny little plots of land to sell. Buying this thing has given him an enviable joie de vivre that in virtually any other situation (i.e., one not involving hundreds of dead bodies) might have been infectious. He is King of the Hill. Sierrawood Hill(s).

I only have to hold down the office fort three days a week, a blessing owing more to Wade's lack of scheduling prowess than to any actual parental concern, even with my begging him to take it down closer to zero. When enlisting my heretofore-untapped grave-selling skills, he got me for a bargain: five dollars an hour, cash under the table of course, me being underage and super underenthused. Before I had a chance to turn him down, Wade let me know it wasn't so much an offer as it was a requirement that I wasn't allowed to turn down.

"An after-school job builds character!" he declared. "Any kid would be lucky to have this chance! Couple hours after school in your very own office"—says the guy who hated being in an office so much he's making his family live in a graveyard—"and you're getting paid? It's icing on the cake!"

"I don't want cake," I whispered.

Excerpted from Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Longo. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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