Spotlight Post: The Other, Better Me by Antony John (Excerpt)

Hey everyone! Today, I have an awesome excerpt to share with you from Antony John’s The Other, Better Me (October 1, 2019 – HarperCollins). First, here’s more about the book:

From the critically acclaimed author of Mascot comes this heartfelt novel, perfect for fans of John David Anderson and Cammie McGovern, about a girl searching for the meaning of family.

Lola and Momma have always been a team of two. It hasn’t always been easy for Lola, being one of the only kids she knows with just one parent around. And lately she’s been feeling incomplete, like there’s a part of herself that she can’t know until she knows her dad.

But what will happen—to Lola, to Momma, to their team of two—if she finds him?

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And now for the excerpt! Enjoy!!

THE OTHER, BETTER ME by Antony John – Chapter 1 Excerpt

It’s Friday the thirteenth, and I don’t think Momma will be getting up soon.

She was working late at the restaurant last night because Frankie, the boss’s son, got sick. It’s why she’ll be in bed until ten minutes before the school bus comes to pick me up.

I don’t like it when Momma works late. I always lock our door, so it’s not like I’m scared. And the house is small and cozy – two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. But there’s a space under our house, and when the wind blows hard, it makes this weird howling noise like a ticked-off dog. Last night, I called our neighbor Ms. Archambault so she could hear it over the phone. She’s like my grandmother, only she’s not family. Her house faces ours, so I can see her when she stands in her kitchen window and waves at me. Because Ms. Archambault owns our house, she promised to get her friend Ned, who’s a handyman, to stop the howling noise. That sounded like a good idea to me. We don’t need any ticked-off imaginary dogs living under us.

On the bright side, whenever Momma works late, I get to watch YoutTuber videos on her laptop. She thinks her laptop is password-protected, but my best friend, Kiana, told me to try typing in “pa$$word.” When I told Kiana that it worked, she gave this long, deep nod, like she knew all along. Kiana wants to be a detective, like her dad. I think she’s off to a good start.

Anyhow, today I let Momma sleep until precisely fifteen minutes before I need to leave the house. I eat Cheerios, wash my bowl in the sink, and keep the water running so all the detergent bubbles disappear down the drain. I put my backpack by the door, wet my bobbed hair so it won’t stick up in the back, and make sure my armpits don’t smell. Momma says I have lax standards of personal hygiene. I don’t know what that means, but I think it has something to do with needing to sniff my armpits more often. Finally, I pour a cup of really strong coffee and take it to her.

“I’ve got to go,” I say.

She rolls towards me. “Toilet’s over there,” she mumbles.

I let out a long sigh. This is isn’t the first time Momma has used that joke.

“Are you coming?” I ask.

She catches the smell of coffee but doesn’t reach for the mug. “Oh, Lola, honey. How about you put yourself on the bus today? You can do that, right?”

I’m not sure how to answer. Sure, I can put myself on the school bus. The stop is only half a block away. But Momma has put me on the bus almost every day since I started kindergarten. Even when she was real sick a couple years ago, she hardly missed a day. Plus, she isn’t looking at her coffee anymore. She calls it her “wake-up juice,” but it’s like she has forgotten the mug is there.

Just this once,” she murmurs, eyes closed. “I could really use a little extra sleep.”

“Okay, Momma. I’ll see you after your shift tonight, ‘kay?”

“Same time, same place.”

I lean forward and kiss her. She smiles. But she doesn’t kiss me back. And she still won’t open her eyes.

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