Excerpt from Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Saving Hamlet

by Molly Booth

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth X
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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1

I have a theory that the haircut started all of this.

It was three days before my sophomore year of high school started, and I remember everything: my hand shaking as I pushed open the door to the salon, the AC sending chills up and down my arms.

"Have a seat. Someone can take you in a minute."

I took a magazine and flipped through, not looking at the shiny-mirror half of the room. I hadn't had a real hair-cut haircut since we had moved to Massachusetts. But with everything that had happened in the last year, I desperately wanted a change. Needed a change.

I put down the magazine and pulled out the picture— some model I found when searching online. The cut was chin-length and feathery: supercool, supernew, superchic.

It'll be a miracle if it turns out like that, though, I had thought. "Chic" isn't a word I can even say out loud.

"Emma?"

I stood and blurted out:

"Hi!"

A twenty-something woman with short, spiky, purple hair raised her eyebrows at my too-enthusiastic greeting. She was curvy, with all kinds of piercings and dark, thick makeup. She looked like a gothic princess, or Queen Mab.

I didn't know how to wear makeup. I had slim hips, slim-to-none boobs, and my almost-butt-length hair was in a scraggly ponytail.

"So what are we doing today?" Purple Girl asked as I sat down in the metal spinny chair.

"I think . . . I want to cut it off."

"Awesome." She grinned. "How 'off' are we talking?"

I showed her my model picture. "Like this . . . but more like a fairy?"

Out loud, it sounded like something a kindergartner would say. I waited for her to smirk or laugh at me. Instead, her eyes lit up and she spun me away from the mirror.

"Let's do this."

Just one small snip. That's all it took. And then a long red ponytail landed in my lap. That can't really be my hair, I reasoned. My hair is on my head. But the hair was held together with an eerily familiar pink elastic.

Suddenly, I couldn't hear the noises of the salon. My heart pounded against my ribs. Bubbles of anxiety formed in my chest. Pop pop pop. Deep breaths, Emma. Close your eyes. Make this positive.

I pictured that with every snip, some stress from freshman year was being cut away, too: moving, quitting soccer, Lulu and Megan's kiss, The Horrible Party, and The Fog Machine Incident. I was leaving it all behind on the tiled floor, memo¬ries and worries tumbling away like leaves in the fall.

I began to calm down, and the bubbles popped slower and sank lower in my chest. A new school year, a fresh start. The second year of high school had to be better than the first.

"What made you want to cut your hair?"

"I just, um . . ." I almost whispered. "I really need a change." I nearly said something about Brandon, but I stopped myself. Don't go there, Emma. She's your hairdresser, not your diary.

She mmmed in response. Then her scissors sped up: snip-snip-snip-snip-snip-snip-snip.

"We're getting there—almost done!"

It felt like it had been ten minutes! The bubbles came back full force, boiling inside me. She whipped out a razor and started slicing the hair right above my eyes. I fought the urge to yank my head away. Or run. This girl has purple hair; why did I trust her?

"There!"

I didn't feel ready, but she spun me around. I cringed in anticipation of cringing.

The mirror.

"Don't you look great? I'm so happy with how it turned out!"

Did I look great? I didn't know. The girl in the mirror looked amazing, but I wasn't sure who it was. It was like someone had recast the role of me. The freshman-in-high-school Emma was gone, and a glamorous sophomore had replaced her.

Excerpted from Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth. Copyright © 2016 by Molly Booth. Excerpted by permission of Disney-Hyperion. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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