It’s the first day of seventh grade, and Nina can’t wait for the year to be over. When her best friend ditches her to hang out with the popular new girl, Nina is banished to the undesirable peanut-free table. She thinks she’s finally found her feet when she forms a band with the other allergic kids called The EpiPens. But then a whole new set of middle school minefields head her way!
Here’s a sneak peek at My Year of Epic Rock:
The walk to school isn’t very far, but it was long enough for me to realize I was totally worried about my first day. Mom says I have a nervous stomach and to ignore it, but this was more like how my stomach felt after I got off the Alien Abduction ride at the county fair. Jump. Thud. Lurch. I couldn’t even get annoyed with Jackson for bumping into me—on purpose—every three feet because I was too busy chewing my fingernails and trying not to throw up.
Even though it was still warm outside, there were a few trees with leaves turning red and gold, and none of our neighbors were outside mowing their lawns the way they were, like, every morning during the summer. It was definitely fall and back-to-school season, normally my favorite time of year.
We reached the front of the elementary school just as the buses were opening their doors and all the kids rushed out. Jackson saw his friend Will and headed off in his direction while I veered left toward the entrance to our town’s middle school right next door.
The people who built the Woodgrove Middle School designed big common areas in the lobby where students are allowed to hang out before the first bell. It’s crazy loud sometimes—especially on the first day back or when everyone is about to leave for winter break or summer vacation.
When I got inside, I scanned the large room. The seventh graders tend to hang out up against the side wall where there are big looping, circular benches to sit on. It’s a much better spot than the front of the room right by the doors where we were stuck last year as lowly sixth graders, but not as good real estate as the awesome area in the back behind a bunch of big plants that is exclusively for the lucky eighth graders.
Then I heard a totally recognizable laugh. Brianna!
I walked over to her, intent on finding out what was going on, but as I got closer, the neon green wrapper in her hand caught my eye.
It was a package of Nutty Buddies.
Wait, what? Nutty Buddies!?! Brianna shook a few of the candies into the palm of her hand, then passed the bag over to Shelley Abrams. Maybe Brianna heard my giant gulp or the sound of my stomach dropping to the floor, because she turned around and looked right at me.
“Oh, hi, Nina,” Brianna said, in a super-casual, “We’re kind of friends, right? I forget” tone, barely looking away from Shelley. There was an awkward pause before she jumped up to give me a quick hug with just the tips of her fingers. It felt more like she was trying to bump her shoulders to mine and avoid touching any other part of me.
She sat down again just as fast. Brianna was wearing jean shorts and a white tank top with a lace decoration on front, and arm warmers—one was striped, the other a sweatshirt-y gray. Everything about the outfit was new. Or at least I’d never seen any of it before.
I stood very still, a smile pasted to my face. “Um, when did you get back? How was Europe?” I asked, as casually as I could, even though I could feel my cheeks get all warm. That was my best friend, the one who’d sworn she’d rather die than eat a peanut if I couldn’t, sitting and munching on Nutty Buddies.