- Pages: 320 Pages
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: Viking Books for Young Readers
- ISBN: 9780698198623
An Excerpt From
Crazy Messy Beautiful
Her name was Ella. She had no other name. Ella was first, middle, and last, readily on my tongue and mind. She was older than me and a good head taller, but that didn’t matter. She was my world from eight a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
During class, Ella pulled me, as if with an invisible string, from stuffed animals to picture books to swings to a small sandbox. I killed dragons. I rescued cats. I held babies and played house. I was the prince to her princess. We celebrated with feasts of crackers, both goldfish and graham. We shared cut-up apples and slices of oranges like they were candy. We visited outer space on secret missions. We explored uncharted lands. The truth was I would have traveled with her anywhere.
I can still see her—straight shoulder-length black hair, bangs like freshly cut grass across her forehead, her brown arm in a cast during those last months, wide smile with two missing front bottom teeth. Her blue flowered dress dirty from playing. Her knees red and skinned from falling off her scooter. Broken scabs scattered across to reveal smooth white scars underneath.
Like all tragic love stories, she left me . . . for kindergarten at a different school. On our last day together, Ella gave me a kiss on my cheek. I was embarrassed and ran and hid from her, refusing to come out and say good-bye.
I never saw her again.
I blame Ella. She was the one who first showed me what a terribly beautiful and cruel thing love could be. I also blame The Poet. He gave words to my anguish and made me acutely aware of this infinite ache, a deep soul longing that came sometimes in the dark and lingered in the light. His words picked at a wound I didn’t even know was there until I read them. Now it’s impossible to close.
But Ella . . . Ella opened my heart and then broke it. Maybe I’ve been trying to fix it ever since.
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