Title: Split Down the Middle
Entry Nickname: Mustache Head
Word Count: 46,000
Genre: Upper MG Contemporary
As a veteran Child of Divorce, twelve-year-old Becca has developed a highly specialized set of coping skills, such as the ability to negotiate ceasefires and to maneuver between houses without losing her math books…or her marbles. It isn’t exactly easy, but after so many years in the trenches, it’s at least familiar. Predictable. Mostly manageable.
But when Becca’s helicopter mom announces she is moving from Philadelphia to North Carolina, Becca must go to court and choose which parent she wants to live with – permanently, and who she must leave behind. Complicating her Decision Day dilemma are the minefield of truth bombs the universe suddenly drops on the battlefield of Becca’s life. Some, like the news that her soulmate (aka secret crush) Jake actually like likes her, are thrilling. Others, such as her freewheeling dad’s announcement that his newish girlfriend is pregnant with twins, are just plain confusing. All of them convince Becca that her difficult decision may be an impossible one.
Becca’s life is about to be carved to pieces, and her parents are forcing her to wield the knife. If she doesn’t get the courtroom miracle she’s praying for, she’ll have to find another way to put herself back together again…since she may just be stuck on the front lines forever.
You know those memories you try to bury in the underwear drawers of your brain, but that sneak up on you when you least expect it?
Like last year when Tim Vasquez sat next to me on the fifth grade aquarium trip, stared at my face in a super creepy way, then announced to the entire bus, “Becca, you totally have a mustache! You’re like…a Mustache Head!” When I came home in tears, Mom brought me to Aunt Jo, who told me almost all women secretly have mustaches but just pretend they don’t. She makes good money as a lip waxer in the suburbs, so she’s kind of an expert.
Thankfully, she now does mine for free.
But since my parents dropped this whole Decision Day bomb on me, the memory I can’t shake is when I started third grade as The New Kid, right after the divorce. While the rest of my classmates reunited, hugging and high fiving, I hung back and haunted the cubby room like a weird ghost, waiting for rescue. It arrived in the form of two ponytailed girls named Jenna S. and Jenna P.
Or so I thought.
Turns out the Jennas were more frenemies than friends, and soon I was opening crumpled notes that said things like, “Promise to only play with me at recess!” I should have run for the hills, but instead I began doing the same thing I’d done with my parents since I was in diapers: anything and everything to keep the peace.