Tell On You
By Freda Hansburg
“Tell On You” – “Fans of Megan Abbott, rejoice! There’s a new writer in school, and she depicts with dazzling insight the lives of troubled girls and the vulnerable adults they ensnare in their trap.”
Jenny Milchman, Mary Higgins-Clark
“ALL RIGHT, LADIES!”
Jeremy Barrett clapped to get the attention of his second period Advanced Placement English class. When they continued talking, he barked: “Hey!” Eleven pairs of adolescent eyes turned toward him and the buzz of their conversations died down. The Forrest School demanded academic excellence along with the steep tuition. These daughters of wealthy New Jersey bedroom communities mostly rose to the challenge. Jeremy found them a pleasure to teach.
He scanned the room, mentally taking attendance and ticking off today’s borderline violations of the school dress code. Here, a bit of exposed belly or cleavage, there, some serious piercing. He frowned, but not over the wardrobe issues. No one had called in absent today, but someone was missing.
“Anyone know where Heather is?” They were all enmeshed in a tapestry of tweets, texts and posts. If one fell off the cyber trail for more than fifteen minutes it drew the herd’s attention. Cellphones were supposed to be turned off, but there were always a few cheaters….
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STEELING HIMSELF, JEREMY BEGAN.
“Sir, the thing with Heather built up for a while…”
“Thing?” The principal frowned. “What kind of thing would that be, Jeremy?”
“You know. We’re reading Gatsby. Love stories – they give girls ideas sometimes.”
“Go on. Explain it to me.”
So Jeremy did. The problem, he told Donnelly, first became obvious during a particularly animated discussion about the novel.
Jeremy explained how he’d challenged the class. Jay Gatsby – steadfast knight, or obsessive fool? Did Fitzgerald want the reader to admire or pity him? Jeremy described how he’d drawn out their responses – at first, halting and tentative, then turning rapid and eager – and stoked their debate. Hip to be cynical in their world, yet most of them defended Gatsby. Something of a romantic, Jeremy had always identified with the character.
IN HER BEDROOM, PLAYING Candy Crush on her faux bling-covered iPhone, Heather Lloyd had nearly cleared her mind of the mess she was in. Pretzels, her brown and white long-haired guinea pig, purred in his cage, doing his happy dance for love of her company. She smiled and clucked at him.
Her phone rang, displaying Nikki Jordan’s name on the screen. Much as Heather craved solitude right now, she’d never have the nerve to blow off Nikki.
“Hi,” she said tentatively.
“Why aren’t you at school?” Nikki demanded. “You sick?”
“Uh huh.” Heather’s palms slickened with sweat. Nikki had that effect on her. “Kinda.”
“But you didn’t call in, right? In first period Mr. B didn’t know where you were. Neither did I.” The chill in Nikki’s tone carried the message that Heather should have kept her better informed.
“I know. I’m sorry. Kind of a last minute thing.”
Read Reviews by My Readers
"Tell on You is the first fictional work by Freda Hansburg, a psychologist who clearly understands teenage angst and social pressure in high school girls. She builds empathy for all of the characters, as vile as they are. Very engaging and fun reading, hard to put down, so thankfully the chapters are short! Can't wait for the next book! "
"Freda is skilled both in getting inside a character's head - and in crafting a story around the interactions of the various motivations and reactions of the people in a story of false accusation (or is it?), struggle, and resolution. Engaging, relevant, and well worth your time to enjoy reading. "
"Wonderful, riveting book about someone crossing the line, bullying and The intricacies of marriage and relationships. Handsburg's writing holds your attention from beginning to end. A must read! "