The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson is the stunning story of one girl who embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent. With the help of her best friend and the only boy she’s ever trusted, Skye might just find the courage she needs to let her art speak for her when she’s out of words. After years of hiding her past, she must become her own best ally.
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“You want to get out of here?” I ask.
“Yeah, okay.” She pulls out her phone. “Where do you want to go? Jeremy’s? Or maybe the quarry?”
“I want to go somewhere different. Will you be my wingwoman?”
“Always.” Luisa slides her phone into her pocket.
I’m wearing black leggings and I grab a black hoodie. My hair is already dark, so I don’t bother covering it.
“Are we robbing a bank?” Luisa asks.
“No,” I say, but not in a convincing way.
“I can’t get arrested.”
“I don’t think you will,” I say. “You can stay in the car.”
“Oh, shit. Then you better lend me some dark clothes.”
I gather all my Post-its and some markers and heavy-duty tape because the Post-its might not stick. I shove everything into a backpack and sling it across my back. Then I place a step stool outside the back door.
“I admit that you’ve got my attention,” Luisa says.
I smile at her and gesture for us to go.
“Mom, we’re going out for a little bit,” I say when we emerge from the basement.
They’ve put away Scrabble and they’re setting up Settlers of Catan.
“But I like the random board,” Emma says.
“This time we’ll use the one in the rulebook. We can try a random board next time,” Dan says, placing the pieces according to a diagram he holds in one hand.
“Where are you going?” Mom asks.
“Over to Sal’s.”
Luisa side-eyes me, but she says nothing.
“Be back by midnight.”
Dan looks up from his orchestration. “Still not dressing appropriately for the weather, I see,” he says, and I remember that night with the broken plate.
I zip my hoodie to my neck. “Nope, guess not.”
After I retrieve the step stool and we get into Luisa’s car, I tell her to drive toward Sal’s.
“You know that Sal’s is closed now, right?” Luisa says.
“We’re not going to Sal’s. Just head toward Sal’s.”
We park behind the long low building where we always park for our diner shifts.
“Are you going to paint that wall like you said?”
I look at the bland concrete wall. “No, that’s way too big of a job for now. I have something more . . . temporary in mind. Also, we’re doing it out front.”
“I don’t want to stay in the car,” Luisa says.
“I could use your help,” I say. “And I guess we’ll just run if we have to.” I hope that I’m kidding, but I’ve never done this before.
Around the front of the building, the lights of Sal’s diner are out except for the broken neon sign. The shops and restaurants of our town are asleep. Cars rush by on the main street that the strip mall faces. They pay no attention to two girls in dark clothes, one carrying a step stool and the other a large bag. I stop in front of the storefront next to Sal’s that’s been empty for months. I stare at it for a moment until the image emerges for me.
“Start a bottom row. Here.” I hand Luisa a stack of yellow Post-it notes.
“I’m not an artist!” she protests.
“You know how to stick Post-it notes, don’t you?”
She stares at the huge window. “I guess?”
“Stick them in a nice straight line. That’s all you need to do.”
I choose the electric blue notes and start working on the concept I’m holding in my mind. When Luisa is finished with the bottom, I start her on the sides. It’s a good thing we brought the step stool, but a ladder would have been even better. We’ll only be able to reach so high. I keep working, stepping back from time to time to check how it’s coming together.
“This is so calming,” Luisa says, pressing yellow square after yellow square. “Except for the fact that I’m nervous we’re going to get caught.”
“Yeah, it’s a combo of conflicting feelings,” I say as I adjust some Post-its to achieve the effect I’m imagining and then continue to work, slowly covering the broad sheet of glass.
“Skye, I love it!” Luisa exclaims when she sees the picture emerging.
Covering an entire storefront window takes more time than I’d expected. And a ton of Post-it notes. When the glass is covered as far as we can reach, I step back one last time to see how it’s come along. I’ve never created something so big or so public. Luisa was right, pressing the Post-its had a calming effect, quieting the worry and confusion in my mind. But knowing we could get caught had gotten my adrenaline pumping in a way that I liked even better than that coke before the concert. The best thing, though, is seeing the mural we’d created huge and bright against the dark night, shouting to anyone who takes a moment to glance this way.