Chapter Two: School Fight
The chapter opens with a picture of some girls getting into a tussle in front of the lockers. It’s not particularly well-drawn, and Alana’s torso looks like it’s separated from the rest of her body.
Tesch tells us that every time Maya says something, Alana says something ugly in response. An example would be nice. Maybe just one? No? Okay.
So they’re at lunch, and someone at Maya’s table is talking about Alana. Probably talking trash. Suddenly Alana gets up and walks directly over towards her.
When she finally arrived at the table she said, “If you wanna say somthin’ say it to ma face!” Alana was leaning over the table and then she leaned back, crossing her arms and raising her eyebrows.
Maya looked up and said, “I didn’t say anything about you!” Then Alana’s friends stormed over to Maya’s table and yelled, “Girl, you are jus’ askin’ for it!” (page 14).
Leaning back, crossing your arms, and raising your eyebrows makes you look ridiculous, not even remotely threatening, but Tesch is 13, so I doubt she knows that. Tesch being 13, I also wonder about the creatively spelled (and italicized) dialogue for Alana. It almost sounds like she’s trying to make her into an angry black bully, but that can’t be right, because that would just be racist. Right?
The school administrator shows up and defuses the situation. Maya takes off and hides behind the building until the bell rings, then makes a beeline for her locker. She grabs her books, and then Alana appears, slamming her locker shut.
She smiled in a way that said “I’m better then you” (page 15).
That’s threatening. And that’s ‘than’.
Alana slaps her. And then punches her. Immediately a group of students forms a semi-circle and starts chanting “Fight! Fight!” Because that’s what always happens at school fights.
Maya grabbed Alana’s long dark hair and pushed her down. Maya had never told anybody before in the school that she was a ‘Black Belt’, one of the highest ranked belts in Karate (page 15).
…add another talent to our Mary-Sue’s repertoire. Also, I don’t exactly call myself an expert when it comes to Karate, but grabbing someone by the hair and pushing them to the ground doesn’t really sound like something a ‘Black Belt’ would do.
The world goes all blurry and Maya can only see Alana and suddenly she finds herself on top of her and starts beating the crap out of her until finally she snaps out of it. Alana’s face is ‘red like a lobster’ (quotation marks included) and she starts crying and runs off. Everyone stares at her, stunned, because Maya is just that hardcore.
I find it astonishing that after a mere 16 pages Gloria Tesch has already firmly grasped the title of the worst writer that I have ever had the misfortunate of reading. Every single sentence reeks of pure, undiluted incompetence. Even Robert Stanek isn’t this bad. I honestly cannot fathom how her parents were willing to self-publish this shit, without even going through and fixing the most egregious crimes against the English language. I don’t have anywhere near the patience to go through and point out every single one of these crimes, but my liver is suffering right now.
Maya gets suspended for one day, Alana for three days, and suddenly Maya’s a minor celebrity. Whenever she shows up, everyone whispers that she was the one who ‘wopped’ Alana. Wopped? Really? Who the hell would use that word?
Chapter Three: The Party
Joey has a friend named Derrick, and it’s Derrick’s little brother’s and his mother’s birthday. For some reason Derrick invites Joey, and then Joey decides to invite Maya. This sounds thoroughly unconvincing. When my friends’ siblings and mothers had birthday parties, I was never invited. But maybe that was just because I wasn’t popular.
Joey told Maya on their way to the party, that the only reason he invited her was the fight between Maya and Alana which had made him even more popular.
Maya was really disappointed when she heard what Joey’s reason for her invitation was and she said sarcastically, “What a privilege…” but then she said “Okay…I’ll go with you!” (page 18)
This tells me two things: one, Maya is a pretty pathetic person, if she’s still going to this party, and two, Gloria Tesch is an idiot, because Maya wouldn’t agree to go to a party after they were already on their way there.
The party is being held at a hotel, which immediately makes me call bullshit, because there isn’t even an explanatory line about Derrick’s family being extremely rich. Joey tells the hotel doorman that they’re the guests of honor – I can’t remember the last time I was at a hotel that actually had a doorman – and they head inside. Joey exchanges some pleasantries with Derrick, they get some food, and Maya starts feeling awkward so she wanders off and starts wandering around the pool.
Then Joey shoves her into the pool. Because he’s trying to show off for Derrick. Normally, I would question Joey’s sexuality, but in this case I honestly think that he’s just being a little shit.
Maya hits her head and falls into the pool and starts sinking. Then she sees a light and hears a woman asking, in very oversized, bold, italicized text, for her to come and help them.
Within the twinkling of an eye the thought hit her mind, “Who needs my help? I’m the one who needs help and I need the help now because I am at the edge of drowning?” (page 20)
The second sentence doesn’t need a question mark at the end. Also, this is remarkably clear train of thought for someone who is about to drown.
Coincidentally, I nearly drowned when I was younger. Here is an approximate re-creation of my train of thought while it was happening:
AUGH HELP WATER FUCK GARGLE AHH HELP CAN’TBREATHE FUCK ASS SHIT AUGH HELP ME PLEASE GOD GLAGH BLUB AA!!!!
Then there’s another idiotic quote:
The doorman, who was also a life-guard at this hotel complex, jumped into the water. He pulled Maya out of the pool and pressed the remaining water out of her lungs (page 20).
Right, the doorman just happens to also be the lifeguard. So he’s life guarding for a pool that he isn’t anywhere close to and can’t even see. So he has no idea if anyone is drowning or needs help. He’s just the lifeguard. Makes total sense.
Joey laughs and makes jokes about Maya, firmly cementing him into the ‘little shit’ category. Maya opens her eyes, looks up, and sees white doves. She hears the voices again. The bleeding doesn’t stop so they want to call an ambulance, but she refuses and says she wants to go home. When a fifteen-year-old falls down and gashes their head open, people do not ask the fifteen-year-old whether they want to go to the hospital, they call 911.
Maya gets up and the doves fly down and circle around Maya’s head. One of them has a golden tail feather. Wait, this is all coming together! Maya is actually Jesus! She’s just been baptized in the pool by Joey and now Tesch is saying, “This is My beloved creation, in Whom I am well pleased”.
The doorman, however, has something different to say about the birds:
The guard said, “These doves are crazy! They behaved strange, absolutely strange! Three of them attacked me at the same time when I was standing at the bell captains desk, close to the poolside, holding the new guest lists in my hand. I was just greeting one of our distinguished guests, when these birds flew straight through the open doors from the pool area. One of them snatched the guest list out of my hands and the two others pulled me by my hair…and I don’t have too much hair. Anyway, I followed them to the pool because I needed the paper, when I saw you drifting under water. That’s when I jumped and dragged you out of the pool. [snip] I tell you the truth, these birds have saved your life!
It seems to me as if you are very special to them and I have the feeling that they are trying to deliver some kind of message. (page 21).
Why did the doorman suddenly become a guard? Who is a bell captain and why would a doorman be standing by his desk? What sort of ‘distinguished guests’ would be coming to a birthday party? If some birds started pulling you by your hair, wouldn’t you fight them off instead of following them? Why is the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of hair even mentioned? Why couldn’t he get another copy of his guest list instead of chasing after a bird that has it? Why did he ‘jump’ instead of ‘jump in’? And why is every single character convinced that Maya is Speshul?
This is what it’s like reading this book. And Tesch doesn’t let up for a moment:
When Joey realized Maya’s desperate situation and saw that her new outfit was ruined by the pool water he was not happy at all (page 22).
Really, you arrogant little prick? Not happy at all that you almost drowned your sister and ruined her clothing? Maybe you should have thought of that before you shoved her into the pool. Not to mention that at this point Maya is safe and wrapped in towels, how is this situation even remotely desperate? Maybe he should have realized this while she was…oh, I dunno, drowning?
They walk home. I’m not sure why they have to walk home after one of them almost drowned, but c’mon, this was written by a snot-nosed 13-year-old, what were you expecting, realism? Joey is still worried about what his parents will say and begs Maya to come up with some sort of story to explain her wet clothes. So Maya starts to cry – because she’s so disappointed that Joey will ask her to lie to her parents.
Seriously. She is crying because he asks her to lie for her. And also because he never said he was sorry for his ‘ugly attitude’. Not that he didn’t apologize for almost killing her, no, Maya wants him to apologize for his attitude problems. And Maya feels pain in her heart.
I guess she’s already forgotten about the weird lights and voices telling her they need her help. That probably happens on a daily basis for her.
Chapter Four: At the Pebble Beach
We jump forward a few weeks later to the thanksgiving weekend. No mention of any fallout from the previous chapter. Also, I don’t know why Tesch randomly ‘Capitalizes’ and accentuates words in a sentence, but doesn’t bother to capitalize words that actually need it, grammatically speaking. Like Thanksgiving.
Joey and Maya meet Mr. Perkins on their way to the beach. They only live a few blocks away from the beach. I guess they’re pretty well-off. Funny thing, I used to live near a street named Perkins. I guess it’s my ‘Destiny’ that I spork this book.
Blah blah, Perkins tells them about a ‘Pebbles Beach’. Apparently people have disappeared there, bodies never found, and now trespassing is forbidden. Joey immediately wants to go there and check it out. Maya is hesitant but agrees to go away, because Maya is kind of a sheep.
They go to the south beach and soon they’re completely alone. It’s not that convincing. I’m not certain but I’m guessing the story is set in Florida, since Tesch lives there. Most beaches that are located within walking distance of people’s houses are open, and on nice, sunny days like this one, there are usually a lot of people there.
Maya jumps in and floats around for a bit, relaxing. Then she thinks about the voices, and so she opens her eyes and yells
“Yes, and what about the doves?” (page 25)
Which doesn’t make any sense. Why did she say ‘yes’? Who is she talking to? Why hasn’t she thought about this before?
Joey is off exploring the beach, and Maya can’t see him, so she heads off looking for him. She sees some white doves in the palm trees, which sounds weird. Maya wonders if this is a sign, and since it’s in italics, I’m guessing it is. She keeps walking and thinks about how people have disappeared at this beach and were never seen again.