- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Aug 2015
From the cover
Tuesday, November 2
Woodridge Academy, a private school in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, had once been the home of William Heath, after whom the town had been named. Nearly three hundred students now attended school in the four-story, black-and-brown stone building where William Heath had lived from 1891 to 1917, with only his wife and three daughters.
Tamaya Dhilwaddi's fifth-grade classroom on the fourth floor had been the youngest daughter's bedroom. The kindergarten area had once been the stables.
The lunchroom used to be a grand ballroom, where elegantly dressed couples had sipped champagne and danced to a live orchestra. Crystal chandeliers still hung from the ceiling, but these days the room permanently smelled of stale macaroni and cheese. Two hundred and eighty-nine kids, ages five to fourteen, crammed their mouths with Cheetos, made jokes about boogers, spilled milk, and shrieked for no apparent reason.
Tamaya didn't shriek, but she did gasp very quietly as she covered her mouth with her hand.
"He's got this superlong beard," a boy was saying, "splotched all over with blood."
"And no teeth," another boy added.
They were boys from the upper grades. Tamaya felt excited just talking to them, although, so far, she had been too nervous to actually say anything. She was sitting in the middle of a long table, eating lunch with her friends Monica, Hope, and Summer. One of the older boys' legs was only inches away from hers.
"The guy can't chew his own food," said the first boy. "So his dogs have to chew it up for him. Then they spit it out, and then he eats it."
"That is so disgusting!" exclaimed Monica, but from the way her eyes shone when she said it, Tamaya could tell that her best friend was just as excited as she was to have the attention of the older boys.
The boys had been telling the girls about a deranged hermit who lived in the woods. Tamaya didn't believe half of what they said. She knew boys liked to show off. Still, it was fun to let herself get caught up in it.
"Except they're not really dogs," said the boy sitting next to Tamaya. "They're more like wolves! Big and black, with giant fangs and glowing red eyes."
Woodridge Academy was surrounded by miles of woods and rocky hills. Tamaya walked to school every morning with Marshall Walsh, a seventh-grade boy who lived three houses down from her and on the other side of their tree-lined street. Their walk was almost two miles long, but it would have been a lot shorter if they hadn't had to circle around the woods.
"So what does he eat?" asked Summer.
The boy next to Tamaya shrugged. "Whatever his wolves bring him," he said. "Squirrels, rats, people. He doesn't care, just so long as it's food!"
The boy took a big bite of his tuna fish sandwich, then imitated the hermit by curling his lips so that it looked like he didn't have any teeth. He opened and closed his mouth in an exaggerated manner, showing Tamaya his partially chewed food.
"You are so gross!" exclaimed Summer from the other side of Tamaya.
All the boys laughed.
Summer was the prettiest of Tamaya's friends, with straw-colored hair and sky-blue eyes. Tamaya figured that was probably the reason the boys were talking to them in the first place. Boys were always acting silly around Summer.
Tamaya had dark eyes and dark hair that hung only halfway down her neck. It used to be a lot longer, but three days before school started, while she was still in Philadelphia with her dad, she made the drastic decision to chop it off. Her dad took her to a very posh hair salon that he probably...