14 September 2016

JACK

I’m not a shitty person, but I’m about to do a shitty thing. And you will hate me, and some other people will hate me, but I’m going to do it anyway to protect you and also myself.

This will sound like an excuse, but I have something called prosopagnosia, which means I can’t recognize faces, not even the faces of the people I love. Not even my mom. Not even myself.

Imagine walking into a room full of strangers, people who don’t mean anything to you because you don’t know their names or histories. Then imagine going to school or work or, worse, your own home, where you should know everyone, only the people there look like strangers too.

That’s what it’s like for me: I walk into a room and I don’t know anyone. That’s every room, everywhere. I get by on how a person walks. By gestures. By voice. By hair. I learn people by identifiers. I tell myself, Dusty has ears that stick out and a red-brown Afro, and then I memorize this fact so it helps me find my little brother, but I can’t actually call up an image of him and his big ears and his Afro unless he’s in front of me. Remembering people is like this superpower everyone seems to have but me.

Have I been officially diagnosed? No. And not just because I’m guessing this is beyond the pay grade of Dr.Blume, town pediatrician. Not just because for the past few years my parents have had more than their share of shit to deal with. Not just because it’s better not to be the freak. But because there’s a part of me that hopes it isn’t true. That maybe it will clear up and go away on its own. For now, this is how I get by:

Nod/smile at everyone.

Be charming.

Be “on.”

Be goddamn hilarious.

Be the life of the party, but don’t drink. Don’t risk losing control

(that happens enough when sober).

Pay attention.

Do whatever it takes. Be lord of the douche. Anything to keep from being the prey. Always better to hunt than be hunted.

I’m not telling you all this as an excuse for what I’m about to do. But maybe you can keep it in mind. This is the only way to

stop my friends from doing something worse, and it’s the only way to stop this stupid game. Just know that I don’t want to hurt anyone. That’s not why. Even though that’s the thing that’s going to happen.

Sincerely yours,

Jack

PS. You’re the only person who knows what’s wrong with me.

***

Prosopagnosia (pro-suh-pag-NO-zhuh) noun: 1. an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people, typically as a result of damage to the brain. 2. when everyone is a stranger.

Holding Up the Universe

That’s what it’s like for me: I walk into a room and I don’t know anyone. That’s every room, everywhere

LIBBY

If a genie popped out of my bedside lamp, I would wish for these three things: my mom to be alive, nothing bad or sad to ever happen again, and to be a member of the Martin Van Buren High School Damsels, the best drill team in the tristate area.

But what if the Damsels don’t want you?

It is 3:38 a.m., and the time of night when my mind starts running around all wild and out of control, like my cat, George, when he was a kitten. All of a sudden, there goes my brain, climbing the drapes. There it is, swinging from the bookshelf. There it is, with its paw in the fish tank and its head underwater.

I lie on my bed, staring up into the dark, and my mind bounces across the room.

What if you get trapped again? What if they have to knock down the cafeteria door or the bathroom wall to get you out? What if your dad gets married and then he dies and you’re left with the new wife and stepsiblings? What if you die? What if there is no heaven and you never see your mom again?

I tell myself to sleep.

I close my eyes and lie very still.

Very still.

For minutes.

I make my mind lie there with me and tell it, Sleep, sleep, sleep. What if you get to school and realize that things are different and kids are different, and no matter how much you try, you will never be able to catch up to them?

I open my eyes.

  • Holding Up the Universe

  • From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone - and love someone - for who they truly are.

    Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout.

    I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

    Once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen', she is only seen for her weight. Not the girl underneath.

    Since her mum's death she's been picking up the pieces in private, alone with her heartbroken father.

    But now, Libby is ready. She's ready for high school, for new friends, for love and for every possibility life has to offer.

    Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too.

    Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.

    Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in.

    What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him.

    He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain.

    When Jack and Libby meet, they discover that the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel.

    Praise for All the Bright Places:

    'If you're looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars - this is it' Guardian

    '[A] heartbreaking love story about two funny, fragile, and wildly damaged high school kids' Entertainment Weekly

    'A do-not-miss for fans of Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, and basically anyone who can breathe' Justine Magazine

    'At the heart - a big one - of All the Bright Places lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers' The New York Times Book Review

  • Buy the book

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