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Tonight We Rule the World

by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley X
Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2021, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    May 1, 2023, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

OF ALL THE THINGS I LEARNED IN MY YEARS GROWING up, the most important one was to never get in the crosshairs of Lily Caldwell. Lily: the sweetest angel you'd ever meet—as long as she liked you. And in fairness, she liked everyone by default. It was a tall order to wind up on her shit list; but if you did, you had serious problems.

I saw this firsthand more than once, being her boyfriend and all. And don't get me wrong; we had some wonderful years together. But trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about.


Snapsnap. Snapsnap.

I stretch and release the bracelet around my wrist, letting the wooden beads flick my skin in sets of two. Onetwo. Onetwo. When I was younger, I had more conspicuous forms of stimming when I was on edge—clicking my pen, rocking back and forth in my chair—but then Lily made me this fidget bracelet for my fifteenth birthday, and I've used it ever since.

Our school's Rent-a-Cop stares at me from his chair. The glint of his badge in the sunlight stabs the edge of my eye. I look away.

Snapsnap.

"Did someone die?" I ask the floor.

"No."

"Did someone get in an accident?"

"No."

"Is someone hurt?"

"It's easier if the other folks explain."

That's a yes. "Was it my mom, or my dad?"

"Your parents are fine, bud. We should be called in any second now."

The Rent-a-Cop (identified by his badge as Officer Mat Hewitt) is a skinny blond guy who looks maybe a couple years older than me. When he first knocked on our classroom door, I thought he might be another student. Then I saw the badge and the Glock 22, and had four thoughts in this order:

Shit—somebody's in trouble.
Shit—he's saying their name.
Shit—that's my name.
Shit.

He's been ducking my questions ever since he walked me down here to the admin lair. He's not exactly unkind, but he's clearly keyed up by whatever this is. The two of us are waiting to meet with someone—I'm not sure who—so all I can do is sit here tugging my bracelet and wondering what the hell I did.

Snapsnap.

"You can go on back. First door on the left," says a secretary on the other side of the room.

Officer Hewitt leads me into an office I've passed every day but never set foot in. One of the visitor's chairs is already occupied by a short, ripped Latino man in an athletic polo shirt—Mr. Yacenda, the cross-country coach and my guidance counselor. He's a laid-back guy; always assuaging my nerves with, "Hey man, I'm not worried about it if you aren't!"

(He looks worried.)

Officer Hewitt closes the door, then takes a seat. All eyes swivel to the woman seated on the other side of the executive desk, dressed in a turtleneck the color of dried blood: Principal Felicity Graham, PhD.

Principal Graham is the human version of a textbook— aggressively attempting to be relatable and fun, but with a no-nonsense core constantly leaking through the mask. She's probably mid-forties at most, but something about her stiff persona makes her seem two hundred years old. Her pale skin is practically translucent under the harsh lights, and her hair is pulled back in a pristine bun.

She leans forward in her black leather throne, thin fingers laced together, and smiles.

"Here we are," she says, like I'm a package she's been waiting for at the foot of her driveway. "Hi, Owen—good to see you again. We chatted for a few minutes at the last senior assembly, but that was a few months back."

She reaches out to shake my hand but backs off when I squirm a little.

"What's happening?" I blurt out. I snap my bracelet again, a faster tempo this time. I don't like feeling crowded, and right now there are four of us stuffed in an office the size of a bathroom. I fix my gaze on the window behind her, where a fierce rain hammers against the glass—the kind you could feel if you touched your fingers to the surface.

Excerpted from Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley. Copyright © 2021 by Zack Smedley. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Kids. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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