In Brenna Yovanoff’s surreal, funny YA novel Places No One Knows, Waverly Camdenmar is painfully bored of her perfect life — until she dreams herself into the bedroom of the school’s resident bad boy-loser, Marshall Holt, and actually wakes up there. You’ll have to wait until the book’s May 17, 2016 release to find out how Waverly’s life is irrevocably changed, but EW has an exclusive excerpt below so you can get acquainted with her sardonic voice. First, though, we also have your exclusive sneak peek at the book’s dreamy cover:
PLACES NO ONE KNOWS by Brenna Yovanoff:
There’s something awful about the sun.
It rockets up from the horizon like a hot-air balloon. One minute, you’re looking at the shy, glowing sliver of it. The next, it’s glaring down at you like the wrath of God.
Sometimes, if you spend too many nights staring at the clock, it gets hard to tell what’s real and when you’re only anthropomorphizing.
Every day, I walk myself through the sequence of events, trace my way back through the hours. If one moment logically follows another, that means it’s actually happening.
It is 1:23 in the afternoon. I’m at my desk in Mrs. Denning’s Spanish class, behind Caitie Price and in front of CJ Borsen, because that’s where I sit.
I’m in Spanish because I have officially exceeded the allowable quota of French offered at Henry Morgan and I’m running out of elective options. It was this or home decorating. Sometimes when you show too much initiative, they have trouble knowing where to put you.
We’re demystifying sports and activities, waxing inarticulate about our hobbies. So far, we have five aspiring musicians, three football players, and a handful of ill-motivated boys who enjoy taking apart cars and putting them together again.
My book is open to the chapter on Deportes y Pasatiempos and I know it’s not a dream because the letters don’t slide off the page. I know the answers to the review questions, and when Mrs. Denning calls on me, I know that I will not tell the truth about my recreational activity.
At the front of the room, she’s wringing her hands, trying to figure out how her life went so wrong. “Emily,” she says, looking hopeless, “how about you? What are some of your hobbies?”
There is a fantasy and it is this: during class, Mrs. Denning only speaks to us in Spanish. It couldn’t sustain itself. Like all best-laid plans, it collapsed early, crumbling under the weight of its own ambition.
“Me gusta bailar,” says Emily Orlowski, and then goes back to painting Olivia Tatum’s fingernails with Wite-Out.
Dutifully, I picture them dancing—a savage riot of eyeliner and cleavage.
“Very good,” says Mrs. Denning, in a voice that implies it is not good at all and is, in fact, kind of horrifying.
Using her desk as a barricade, she settles on the back row. “Marshall? Would you like to tell us about your favorite recreational activity?”
Marshall Holt looks up. Then, just as fast, he stares back down at his desk and says in an impeccably accented monotone, “Me gusta jugar a los bolos con mis amigos.”
Mrs. Denning leans forward, sincerely convinced that he is not mocking her. “Bueno. Y a donde juegas a los bolos?”
“En el parque.”
I enjoy bowling with my friends in the park. Brilliant. Marshall Holt, you are a genius. Also, mature.
Around us, people are snickering into their textbooks. Mrs. Denning is still watching Marshall in this sad, hopeful way, like she might eventually see the punch line.
For a second, he almost looks contrite, but the damage is done. She wilts, fidgeting with the plastic cup that holds her pens, searching the room for someone who won’t betray her.
“Waverly, can you tell us another recreational activity?”
I am the bright, shining face she fixes on so she doesn’t feel like she’s drowning. So full of promise, so full of hope. Waverly will tell you the square root of any perfect number and how to conjugate the verb quemar. Yes, Waverly knows all about immolation. What is the significance of Bastille Day and who can list three thematic elements of The Meta- morphosis?
Waverly will never tell you that her primary hobby is getting stoned in the play tunnel at Basset Park on a weeknight.
Waverly is a good, good girl.
Waverly is so virtuous it makes you want to die.
I keep my hands folded on my desk. People are looking at me now, looking at my helpful expression, my neat hair, thinking how good, how sweet, how nice. How fucking perfect. Thinking, who does she think she is?
When I answer, my voice sounds thin and almost doubtful. “Me gusta correr.”
Wrong, says the girl in my head. Incorrect. Woefully inaccurate. I run, but not because it pleases me. What gives me pleasure doesn’t enter into it. I run because the nights are long, and because I can’t not run.
When the lights go out and the moon goes down, I slip out the french doors and through the gate. Down Breaker Street and along the median. I turn onto Buehler and let out my stride. From Buehler, I head for that one unreachable point on the horizon. Sometimes I run for miles.
Behind her desk, Mrs. Denning smiles. “Gracias, Waverly.”
I make up a little postulate and write it down. Theorem of Perfection. The effectiveness of your persona is inversely proportional to what people know about you. I provide an illustrated example: two diverging trajectories, racing away from each other on the graph.
There are two Waverlys. One is well groomed, academically unparalleled, reasonably attractive, and runs the cross-country course at Basset in under eighteen minutes. Sixteen point five on a good day.
The other is a secret.
Secret Waverly is the one who never sleeps.
Excerpt copyright © 2016 by Brenna Yovanoff. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.