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275 pages, Paperback
First published March 20, 2001
"How could you not tell me I was adopted! Don't you think I have a right to know? And who were my real parents anyway?" I was trying to be mature, but periodically spit flew.The most poignant story, for me, was near the end of the book (this isn't really a spoiler because there is no real plot, but if you want to read the book yourself, you may want to skip this next part): A local man, Mr. Sewell, begins to teach some of the elementary students how to play various band instruments. He volunteers to give Rose, one of Zippy's friends, private lessons after school once a week. A little later Zippy is spending the night at Rose's house:
"Gypsies, honey." She still had not looked up from Isaac Asimov Explains the Whole of Reality and Then Some.
"Gypsies? Really?" This was somewhat compelling. I sat down.
"Yes, I thought we managed a very wise trade. . . Plus, you were born with a tail."
I looked at her, completely speechless, my mouth hanging open exactly like a creature with a tail.
"We had it removed so your pants would fit."
We were mostly not talking, when Rose scooted over closer to me and whispered, "I'm scared of something."The next time Mr. Sewell comes, Zippy stays after school, telling him that she's required to wait for Rose and walk home with her. At the end of the private lesson he offers the girls a ride home, "but we turned it down, even though we had a long, long walk ahead of us." The capper is that Zippy tells another friend, a devout Christian, that she's a failure at doing good deeds and helping others. "Good works just aren't for me."
I whispered back, "What?"
"I don't want to do private lessons with Mr. Sewell any more."
This didn't surprise me, because I never would have wanted to do it in the first place. "Why? Is it boring and stupid and you'd rather be outside?"
"No." Rose didn't say anything for a long time. "I told my mom, but she thinks I'm making it up or being silly."
"Making what up?"
"I'm just afraid. He . . . never mind. Forget it."
On my end-of-the-year report card all she wrote was “Is disruptive in class. Colors outside the lines. Talks out of turn.” When I showed it to my parents, they read it out loud to me, and my mom said, “Good for you, sweetheart.” And my dad gave me a little pat on the back.