Excerpt from How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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How to Make Friends with the Dark

by Kathleen Glasgow

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow X
How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2019, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2020, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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Print Excerpt

I find the bills by accident, stuffed underneath a pile of underwear in the dresser my mother and I share. Instead of clean socks, my hands come away with a thick stack of envelopes marked Urgent, Last Notice, Contact Immediately.

My heart thuds. We don't have a lot, we never have, but we've made do with what my mom makes as the county Bookmobile lady and from helping out at Bonita's daycare. Come summer, we've got the Jellymobile, but that's another story.

You don't hide things in a drawer unless you're worried.

Mom's been on the couch since yesterday morning, cocooned in a black-and-red wool blanket, sleeping off a headache.

"Mom," I say, loudly. "Mommy."

No answer. I check the crooked clock on the wall. Forty minutes until zero period.

We're what my mom likes to call "a well-oiled, good-looking, and good-smelling machine." But I need the other half of my machine to beep and whir at me, and to do all that other stuff moms are supposed to do. If I don't have her, I don't have anything. It's not like with my friend Cake, who has two parents and an uncle living with her. If my mom is sick, or down, I'm shit out of luck for help and companionship.

And rides to school.

"Mom!" I scream as loud as I can, practically ripping my throat in the process. I shove the bills back beneath the stack of underwear and head to the front room.

The scream worked. She's sitting up, the wool blanket crumpled on the floor.

"Good morning to you, too," she mumbles thickly.

Her short hair is matted on one side and spiky on the other. She looks around, like she recognizes nothing, like she's an alien suddenly dropped into our strange, earthly atmosphere.

She blinks once, twice, three times, then says, "Tiger, baby, get me some coffee, will you?"

"There's no coffee." I use my best accusatory voice. I have to be a little mean. I mean, come on. It looks like we're in dire straits here, plus, a couple other things, like Kai, are currently burning a hole in my brain. I need Mom-things to be happening.

"There's nothing," I say. "Well, peanut butter. You can have a big fat hot cup of steaming peanut butter."

My mom smiles, which kills me, because I can't resist it, and everything I thought I might say about the stack of unpaid bills kind of flies out the window. Things will be fixed now. Things will be okay, like always.

We can beep and whir again.

Mom gets up and walks to the red coffeemaker. Coffee is my mother's drug. That and cigarettes, no matter how much Bonita and Cake and I tell her they're disgusting and deadly. When I was little, I used to wake up at the crack of dawn, ready to play with her, just her, before she'd drag me to the daycare, and I always had to wait until she had her first cup of coffee and her first cigarette. It was agony waiting for that stupid machine to glug out a cup while my hands itched with Legos or pick-up sticks.

She heaves a great sigh. "Shit," she says. "Baby! I better get my ass in gear, huh?" She's standing at the sink, trying to turn on the faucet, but nothing is coming out. "The water's still crappy? I was hoping that was just a bad dream." She nods to the faucet.

"Pacheco isn't returning my calls," I say. Mr. Pacheco is our landlord and not a very nice one.

She murmurs, "I guess I'll have to deal with that today, too."

I'm silent. Is she talking about the bills? Maybe I should--

Mom holds out her arms. "Come here, baby. Here. Come to me."

I run so fast I almost slip on the threadbare wool rug on the floor and I go flying against her, my face landing just under her collarbone. Her lips graze the top of my head.

Mom trembles. Her shirt's damp, like she's been sweating. She must need a cigarette. "I'm sorry," she whispers into my hair. "I don't know what happened. What a headache. Bonita leaving, the daycare closing. I just . . . it was a lot all at once, and I guess I stressed. Did you even have any dinner last night?"

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Excerpted from How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow. Copyright © 2019 by Kathleen Glasgow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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