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  • wittlinger, ellen.
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  • sandpiper / ellen wi...
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    sandpiper / ellen wittlinger.
    by wittlinger, ellen.
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    new york : simon & schuster books for young readers, c2005.
  • dating (social customs) -- fiction.
  • interpersonal relations -- fiction.
  • walking -- fiction.
  • dating (social customs) -- juvenile fiction.
  • interpersonal relations -- juvenile fiction.
  • walking -- juvenile fiction.
  • summary:
    when the walker, a mysterious boy who walks constantly, intervenes in an argument between sandpiper and a boy she used to see, their lives become entwined in ways that change them both.
    0689868022 (hardcover)
    227 p. ; 22 cm.
    1st ed.
    ages 12 up.
    award note:
    a junior library guild selection.
    number of requests:
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    first chapter excerpts
    by ellen wittlinger
    simon & schuster children's publishing
    copyright i? 1/2 2005 ellen wittlinger
    all right reserved.
    isbn: 0689868022
    chapter one
    i met the walker three weeks before my mother's wedding, but i'd seen him lots of times before that. everybody saw him. you couldn't help it.
    it seemed like he just showed up one day and started walking all over town. no certain path -- you'd see him everywhere, way in the west end near the y, all the way south on beggar's point by pickford's fish, or sometimes stalking through the cemetery on the top of rhodes hill. he didn't walk fast or slow, just at a regular pace, like he had someplace to go but wasn't in a big hurry to get there. nobody knew his name, so we started calling him the walker.
    you noticed him because he was tall and skinny, and even though he didn't walk fast, he covered ground quickly with his long stride. his dark hair curled around his earlobes and down his neck, and he always wore the same ancient brown leather jacket, his long arms sticking about four inches out of the sleeves. the day i met him it was almost warm out, and he had his coat unzipped. i was with this guy andrew down at blessingame park, and we were arguing.
    to tell the story right, i need to back up a little. the thing is, even though he was a very annoying person, i'd hooked up with andrew for a couple of days. we'd go to his house after school because his parents worked late . colleen, my mother, was way too discombobulated about her upcoming wedding to inquire about my after-school activities.
    i don't know why i went with andrew. i was never particularly attracted to him, but every time i saw him he'd tell me he thought i was hot. he'd come up behind me and rub his thigh against mine while i was getting stuff out of my locker.
    i'm not stupid. i knew why he wanted me to go home with him, and i was up for it right away. i usually am up for it. the thing is, i love the beginning stuff when the guy is so anxious and can hardly wait to be alone with me, can hardly wait to have me touch him . all that expectation is very exciting. and it makes me feel like i'm in control of the whole situation. he needs me so much.
    but it always ends up the same way. eventually it's clear that what he really needs is for me to put my mouth around his dick. after a minute or two of this i become anonymous. to the guy and to myself. andrew (or whoever) is lost inside himself, waiting to be shaken by his own little volcano, and i'm thinking, who is this girl kneeling on the floor with some weird guy's bone in her mouth? it's like i'm not even there anymore.
    it all started in the eighth grade. that year all of a sudden you had to have a boyfriend -- you had to, or you just felt worthless. my best friends, melissa and allie, and i spent hours talking about how to get guys to like us.
    melissa was the first one to figure out a foolproof method. allie and i were disgusted when she confessed to us why tim mcilhenny was following her around like an imprinted duck. but after a few weeks of listening to melissa's detailed instructions, we both decided to give it a try. who knew? obviously, the way to an eighth-grade boy's heart was through the zipper of his jeans . it probably wasn't the only way, but it was the only way we knew.
    tony phillips was my slave for two months. he even took me to the christmas dance that year. some days i felt like a princess and some days i felt like a prostitute , but every day i felt popular. i went from tony to chris to evan. and kept on going. melissa assured allie and me that lots of other girls were doing the same thing we were (although i never knew who), which is what i planned to tell my parents if they ever found out. but they never did.
    in high school things changed -- at least for melissa and allie. they took honors clases, joined the student council and the field hockey team, and got real boyfriends who stuck around for a while. we didn't hang out so much anymore. for me there was always another guy, and then another. i don't know why things changed for them but not for me. what i do know is that after a week or so with a guy, even somebody i was crazy about to begin with, i couldn't stand him anymore. with andrew it took only three days.
    that's what we were arguing about in blessingame park.
    "you liked me well enough on tuesday," he said.
    "yeah, well, today is thursday," i told him. "a lot can happen in two days."
    "like what? you're with somebody else now?"
    "jesus, andrew, i was never with you! did you think we were engaged?"
    " screw you, sandy ."
    i gave him a forlorn look. "oh, i bet you wish you could!"
    his face turned bright red, and his nose twisted up so i could see into his nostrils. " you are such a slut! " he shrieked, his voice breaking into a falsetto over the horror that was me.
    just about that time i noticed the walker coming up the hill in back of andrew. he must have heard andrew shrieking at me, because he was staring right at us. without really thinking about it too much, i waved at him and yelled out, "hey! i've been waiting for you!"
    he looked surprised, but he didn't say anything. his hair was flopping into his face as if he hadn't had a haircut in ages.
    "come here!" i yelled again. i thought, if he came over, great; if not, i was no worse off.
    andrew turned to see who i was talking to. "what are you calling him over for?"
    "because!" god, andrew not only couldn't take a hint -- he couldn't take a brickbat to the head.
    the walker strode over and stood next to me, his eyes asking what this was all  about. andrew backed up to stare -- the walker was quite a bit taller. "i know you. you're that guy who just wanders around town all the time."
    "yeah, i walk around a lot. who are you?"
    andrew sputtered. "well, why should i tell you?"
    "you shouldn't. you should probably just leave."
    ha! he got it! he was following my lead!
    "i should leave?" andrew stood there with his mouth flapping in the breeze. repartee is not his strong suit. "i mean, you're the one who should leave. right?" he looked at me.
    i was so sick of this guy. how could i have spent three entire afternoons with him? i stepped closer to the walker and put my hand on his wrist. "actually, no, he shouldn't," i said. i could feel the muscles tighten in his arm, but he didn't move.
    once again, andrew couldn't get his mind around a complete thought. "what? you don't you way!"
    the walker placed his hand over my hand, but he didn't say anything.
    finally, andrew had had enough. "i don't know why i ever went out with you anyway, sandy. derek told me you were a bitch, and he was right !"
    " bite me, andrew !" i yelled back. "derek is as pathetic as you are." derek. last week's loser. another guy i never should have gotten involved with.
    andrew stalked out of the park and down front street.
    as soon as andrew was out of sight, the walker let go of my hand and i released his arm.
    "thanks," i said. "sorry about that."
    he shrugged again. "no problem." and he started to walk away.
    "hold on. can we talk a minute? or something?" two minutes ago i'd decided to swear off boys -- i didn't need the aggravation -- and then the walker showed up. it's so easy for me to get interested in a boy; all he has todo is look at me. not that the walker had actually looked at me, but he was sort of my superhero savior. or he would have been if andrew had been evil instead of just a creep.
    "i like to keep moving," he said.
    "well, can i walk with you a little while?"
    he didn't say anything, but then he gave another shrug -- apparently this was his primary means of communication, the i-don't-care shrug. it wasn't exactly a warm invitation, but i took it anyway, and we started walking out of the park in the opposite direction from the one that andrew had taken.
    "i've seen you walking around town," i said.
    "i guess everybody has."
    "how come you walk so much?"
    another shrug. "i like walking. i notice things."
    he didn't seem to be noticing me all that much. "what's your name?"
    he shook his head. "it's not important."
    i laughed. "it must be some regular, common name then, because if it was as stupid as my name, it would be very important, believe me."
    he looked at me for the first time -- at least i'd accomplished that. "why? what's your name?"
    normally i dread this moment when meeting somebody new, but this time i was glad i had something to say that would get his attention, maybe even stop the walker in his tracks.
    "sandpiper hollow ragsdale."
    a hint of a smile crossed his face, but he kept on walking. "did you just make that up?"
    "i wish! that's my honest-to-god name. hollow in the middle, like a cheap chocolate easter bunny." i've used that line many times -- it usually gets a laugh.
    he smiled again, but not in my direction. "your parents must have had a good reason for naming you that. or an odd sense of  humor."
    "both. they met on this beach on cape cod called sandpiper hollow. colleen stepped on a broken shell and cut her foot. love walked in and kissed her boo-boo, and they named their firstborn child after the unforgettable moment."
    the walker nodded. "makes a good story."
    "yeah, with a terrible ending! just because two people manage to make a baby, i don't think they should have the right to give it a name that's just an inside joke between the two of them, which, once they get divorced, won't be all that funny anymore."
    "parents divorced?"
    "years ago. a sandpiper is a bird, you know."
    "i know."
    "i guess i'm lucky they didn't name me nuthatch or buzzard or something."
    "or woodpecker," the walker said. hey, he could make a joke.
    "or cuckoo," i continued.
    "or cedar waxwing."
    "cedar what?"
    "cedar waxwing."
    "that's a bird? i never heard of that one. i kind of like it though. hello, my name is cedar waxwing. i like it!"
    the walker pointed toward an old broken wire fence behind a new ranch house. "did you know there's an old rail bed back there? you can follow it from hammond all the way up to barlow."
    "no, i didn't know that." i hated being interrupted when i was on a roll about the injustice of my name.
    "i walk it at least once a week."
    "the whole thing? it must be five or six miles."
    "seven and a half each way," he said.
    of course, he answered with a shrug. "why not?"
    i sighed. he liked being a puzzle. and he certainly didn't seem interested in me. maybe he wasn't worth the effort. "don't you drive anywhere? how old are you?"
    his head jerked up as if he'd seen something in the road, but there was no traffic on this street in the middle of the afternoon. finally he said, "i'm eighteen, but i don't drive. i don't even ride in cars."
    "what? you're crazy!"
    he glanced at me and smiled. i liked that smile. "probably," he said. "i hate cars."
    "how can you hate cars! in four weeks i can get my license. i'm counting the days! i'll be free!"
    "walking gives you freedom."
    i shook my head. "it's not the same."
    he was quiet for a moment. then he said, "so, people call you sandy."
    "how do you know that?"
    "that's the name your...your friend used."
    "first of all, that jerk is not my friend. and second, i hate the name sandy. it's the name of little orphan annie's dog. the kids at school use it, but i make my parents call me sandpiper since they're the ones who stuck me with the name to begin with."
    i swear a little grunt of laughter escaped from the guy. "so, that wasn't your boyfriend, huh?"
    my face crinkled in disgust. "boyfriend? god, no. he's just somebody i hooked up with for a few days . i hardly even know him. he's nobody."
    but the walker had stopped listening to me; he'd actually stopped walking. he bent down to the street to examine some black lines. "somebody put on their brakes really hard here. took the corner too fast. these skid marks weren't here yesterday." he shook his head. "this is a blind corner too. i hope nobody got hurt."
    i looked around. "i don't think i've ever been on this street."
    "we're just down from davis avenue. you know, you better go on back. i'll lead you right out of town if you're not careful." he stood up and stared at me with eyes that were suddenly dull, like the lights had gone off behind them.
    "i don't care! i like walking -- "
    he shook his head and looked back down at the tire marks. "not today."
    "really! i can -- "
    "no! go back now," he ordered. he seemed to be shivering. even though it wasn't cold, he zipped up his coat. "maybe i'll see you another time."
    "well, i mean, where?" dammit. my skinny hero was brushing me off.
    a shrug. "you'll see me." he started across the side street.
    "i don't even know your name," i said.
    "you don't need to," he called back. "i'll remember yours."
    black and white
    look more closely -- you're missing
    the mystery. my behavior
    is no more my story
    than a chalk outline on pavement.
    if you were a cat, you would be
    black and white, not entirely
    unlucky, but suspicious anyway.
    not a loner, just alone.
    look more closely -- i'm dressed
    in bright red so i won't
    disappear! please confess
    if you hear me or see me.
    if you were a cat, you would
    see through me, front to back,
    my sighs and wonders. black
    and white, you would not run.
    -- sandpiper hollow ragsdale
    copyright i? 1/2 2005 by ellen wittlinger
    excerpted from sandpiper by ellen wittlinger copyright i? 1/2 2005 by ellen wittlinger. excerpted by permission. all rights reserved. no part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. excerpts are provided by dial-a-book inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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