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Candy Apple #18: Life, Starring Me!
by Robin Wasserman
ISBN 978-0-545-10065-6 PBK


Ruby Day is a star. Or at least she was, until she got too old to keep touring with the company of Bye, Bye Birdie. But now Ruby is just an ordinary seventh grader, doomed to an ordinary seventh grade life. That is, until she joins the snoozeworthy, totally unglamorous school musical and finds herself in a role she’s never played before – best friend.


Excerpt from CANDY APPLE #18: LIFE, STARRING ME!

As soon as the final bell rang, I hurried down to the basement level to find Ms. Hedley and ask her about joining the school musical. Room S12 was empty, but I could hear muffled voices coming from behind a set of big wooden doors. I pushed my way through and found myself in the auditorium. It was totally dark, except for a single wide spotlight that shined on a group of kids sitting in a circle onstage.

Even though I wanted to run, I forced myself to walk up slowly to the circle of kids. I loved the way the wooden slats felt beneath my feet, and the way the chairs in the auditorium disappeared in the spotlight’s shadow. I could imagine an audience out there, watching my every move.

Now that I’m back where I belong, everything’s going to be fine, I told myself.

“You!” someone said angrily. It was chocolate milk girl. Uh-oh.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “You were gone before I explain that it wasn’t –“

“This is a private rehearsal, cast members only,” she snapped. “Just in case you’ve suffered some kind of mental meltdown, here’s a reminder: The cast does not include you.”

I’d spent all day keeping my mouth shut, and I was tired of it. The theater was my turf, and I wasn’t afraid of looking dumb anymore.

“Maybe it didn’t include me,” I retorted. “But lucky for you, it does now.”

The girl stood up. “I’m president of the drama club, which means I’m in charge here, and I say you have to go. Now.”

A middle-aged woman with long, flowing blond hair and a loose purple shirtdress stood up and patted the girl’s shoulder. “Actually, Maureen dear, I’m in charge here. Although of course, when we speak of the theater –“ She said it in a weird accent, drawing the word out into three long syllables, like thee-ate-or. “- only our feelings are in charge. Isn’t that right, everyone?”

The other kids mumbled and nodded. I could tell they were thinking exactly what I was: This woman was a total flake.

Still, she was a total flake who sounded like she might be on my side.

The woman – I figured it was Ms. Hedley – turned toward me. “Now, what is it I can do for you, Ms…?”

“Day,” I said. “Ruby Day. And you want me in your cast.”

“Well, Ruby Day, I’m afraid you missed the auditions –“

“I’m new,” I said confidently. Once she heard me sing, she wouldn’t care whether I’d missed the auditions or not. “I’ve been on tour with international company of Bye Bye Birdie.”

I know it sounds like I was bragging, but up onstage, it’s not called bragging – it’s called getting the part.

Judging from the expressions on the other kids’ faces, they didn’t quite see the difference.

The teacher’s hands fluttered to her heart. “Oh my, a thespian!” She turned to the group of kids and clapped loudly. “Cast members, a true thespian walks among us!”

Whatever she was waiting for, it didn’t happen. The kids just stared. Someone snickered.

“Tell me, Ruby Day, what kind of experience do you have with our fair muse – by which I mean,” she added in a stage whisper, “the theater.”

Lucky for me, I had a copy of my resume and headshot right in my bag. Well, it wasn’t exactly luck – I carry them with me everywhere. I handed them over to Ms. Hedley, so she could see exactly why she needed me in her show.

“Ms. Hedley, we already cast all the parts,” the girl named Maureen complained. “There’s no room left.”

“There’s always room for a true thespian,” Ms. Hedley told her.

“But that’s not fair –“

“Maureen!” Ms. Hedley said it sweetly and softly, but she got her point across. Maureen shut her mouth. “Maureen’s right,” Ms. Hedley continued. “We have cast all the parts in Monster Mash: The Musical…”

A hollow spot opened up in my throat. I swallowed hard.

“But given all your professional experience, I’m sure we can make room for you.”

Something huge and heavy lifted off my shoulders. I was going to be a star again, even if it meant performing in this tiny auditorium, in this lame town, in this amateur show. Even if it meant sharing the stage with this girl Maureen. For the first time, I began to think things would be okay.

Until Ms. Hedley said those four terrifying little words:

“Welcome to the chorus.”


From Juicy Gossip.Copyright © 2009 by Robin Wasserman. All rights reserved.