Book excerpt

When We Wuz Famous

Greg Takoudes

Holt Books for Young Readers

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Are you ready to hear it?
Let’s begin by saying what this story is not. For starters, it’s not crap. That’s not to say this story is necessarily any good—it’s just not packed with lies. It’s not about a bunch of perfect-looking teenagers who dance around in designer outfits, stage pillow fights, and deliver the perfect, rip-roaring comeback to every insult. Nope. This is a story about real kids. Actual kids. Kids you like, kids you love, kids you hate—the types of kids you know.
Now, technically, you would have to call this a love story, as much as it might make your skin crawl. But it’s not the kind of love story you’re thinking of. No one buys chocolate valentines for anyone in this story. So if you’re looking for that heartwarming (and stomach-curdling) scene where the varsity boy surprises his blond girlfriend with a bouquet of flowers and balloons on her birthday after she’d positively feared that he’d forgotten, then it’s time to put this book down and start reading another one.
That scene is not in this book.
In fact, this is the kind of story where the boy actually does forget it’s his girl’s birthday, because he’s an idiot, and she really needs to dump his ass, and all her friends tell her so. But she won’t. Because she’s being an idiot too. Because that’s what happens in real life. The subtitle of this book should be The Stupid Stuff That People Do, and Why They Keep Doing It.
Another thing: Don’t expect the characters you’re about to meet to do things like learn important lessons in life. This isn’t some CW television show where the characters get to learn about themselves just in the nick of time before the show has to cut to a commercial that’s selling you fabric softener.
No, this book is about real love. And the thing about real love is that it hurts. You don’t get real love without going through real problems first. Infatuation ain’t love. Great sex ain’t love. Flowers on your birthday ain’t love. Those things are nice, but they aren’t true love. The thing about true love is that you have to get through a lot of junk—lies, pain, dishonesty—and then you have to somehow survive it all before you can get to the good part: the love that lasts.
So are you ready to hear it?
Oh, and one more thing. This book is a bit strange, too, because for a love story, it starts in the least romantic place in the world: a police station. And for a love story, it starts with the least romantic topic of conversation you can imagine: murder.

 
Text copyright © 2013 by Greg Takoudes

Greg Takoudes is an author and filmmaker whose feature film, Up with Me—which inspired his first novel, When We Wuz Famous—won several awards, including the Special Jury Award at South by Southwest, and was distributed by IFC Films.  Prior to moving to New York, he worked for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer as a member of the creative team at Imagine Entertainment in Los Angeles. Greg lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.