by Jessica Brody
Teen Fiction
FSG Books for Young Readers – June 2011


The sirens are louder than I anticipated.

Not that I ever in a million years anticipated sirens at the beginning of all this. Otherwise, obviously, I never would have agreed to it.


It’s a bitch.

But even when my unnervingly calm best friend, Shayne, informed me that they were coming, I never expected them to be this loud. Or this…I don’t know…conspicuous. They’re like beacons blasting through the dark night, waking the neighbors, calling out to anyone within a five mile radius, “Hey! You! Look over here! Brooklyn Pierce has screwed up…again!”

Why don’t they just send out a freaking press release or something?

Although, I have no doubt this will make the front page of tomorrow’s paper. Or at least the top-clicked story on a few local blogs. Because really, what else is there to talk about in this boring, little, nothing-exciting-ever-happens town? The fact that the First Church of Who the Heck Cares got a new pastor last week?

No, this will definitely be the news.

And I will definitely be at the very center of the scandal…yet again.

I guess you could say I’m some sort of a magnet for unfavorable attention. Prone to these types of “media-frenzy” disasters.

When I was two years old I fell down an abandoned mine shaft and was stuck down there for fifty-two hours while rescuers worked around the clock to save me. They had to drill through twenty feet of solid rock because apparently the hole in the ground was big enough to fit a 25 pound toddler but not exactly big enough to fit a 210 pound firefighter in full rescue gear.

The story was all over the news. According to Wikipedia, the entire nation “stood by” and watched on live TV as they pulled me to safety. It made the front cover of twenty different national newspapers and magazines, my parents got a phone call from the president himself, and there was even talk of turning the story into a TV mini-series event.

From that point on, I was known across the country as “Baby Brooklyn, the little girl who fell down the mine shaft.” One wobbly, toddler-sized step in the wrong direction and my life was forever tainted by disaster. I was permanently marked as a screw-up. I have no recollection of the event whatsoever, but the memory continues to follow me wherever I go. Famous for something I’ll never be able to remember. Immortalized for one very unfortunate lapse in judgment.

My parents have been telling me for years that I make “bad decisions.” But I never believed them. Because, you know, they’re parents. And since when are parents ever right about anything?

But I’m slowly starting to wonder if maybe I was just born that way. Like poor judgment is in my DNA or something. Genetically predisposed to make crappy choices. Although my mom has always blamed herself for the incident, it was me who decided—in the seven lousy seconds it took her to zip up my sister’s jacket—that it would be a good idea to chase the little green lizard right off the hiking trail and down an abandoned mine shaft.

And what have I learned since then? Thirteen years later? Well, judging from the slew of various emergency vehicles lining the street…not a whole lot.

So it isn’t until right now, at this very second—with the sirens blaring, the crowd of people gathering to try to steal a gossip-worthy peek, and the overall chaos of a good idea turned very bad—that I start to think my parents might just be on to something.

Because when you’re being handcuffed and lowered into the back seat of a squad car, you kind of have to start reconsidering the way you live your life.