Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say … after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss. After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.
Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques—from the jocks to the nerds to the misfits—to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings.
Pretty in Punxsutawney:
- Addresses topical issues of self-discovery, navigating cliques, and ignoring stereotypes
- Is an homage to beloved 80s movies, such as John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink
- Is the perfect gift for birthdays and high school or college graduation
- Will captivate young adult readers of all ages with its universal coming-of-age themes about struggling to fit in, navigating the tough high school years, first kisses, and first crushes
- 2020 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The ground races toward me so fast that my muscles tense instinctively. With a nauseating dip downward, everything goes dark for a beat before an explosion rattles the walls.
Good old Dolby digital cinema surround sound.
The hero striding toward us onscreen is so cool, he doesn't even give a backward glance toward the burning ball of fire growing behind him.
"Yes!" Colton punches the air in triumph and aims his 3D glasses in my direction.
I grin at him just as the theater door swings open and light spills over his handsome smile. "Shoot." He grabs the glasses off his face and shoves a final handful of Raisinets into his mouth.
The theater manager, Tom — aka, the bane of our existence — makes his way toward us. "Break's over, Colt."
Colton's grin bounces back as he quickly chews. "No problem, boss-man." He brushes his hand along my arm as he stands. "You want to stay, Andie?"
I glance at the screen. One of the best scenes is coming up, but I've already watched this movie with him twice, and I find that CGI explosions lose their appeal around the third viewing. Besides, action movies are only my sixth-favorite type of movie. They come after romantic dramas, rom coms, regular coms, suspense, and parodies, but just before horror and foreign films — unless, of course, the foreign film is an epic romance, in which case, swoon. Speaking of swooning, I can still feel the trail of warmth Colton's fingers left on my arm.
Following him out of the theater, I squint at the brightness of the lobby and stagger slightly as if I've just woken up. Post-movie disorientation: one of my favorite feelings.
It's amazing to think that when we moved to Punxsutawney just two months ago, I was sure my life was over. Summer break had barely begun, but I was already anxious about starting at a new school. Now the first day of senior year is tomorrow, and I can't wait. Colton is giving me a ride, and he's promised to show me around and act as my student guide. I'm fairly confident he'll be acting as my first boyfriend very soon as well. If my wishes have any power to come true, the two of us are definitely happening.
He gives me a micro-wink as we both move behind the lobby's glass snack counter. I twist my auburn hair into a knot and secure it with a cheap plastic pen from the pile beside the register before I start handing out 3D glasses to a family of five.
"Whoops, let's try that again," I say to a sticky-looking little girl who grabs hers by the lenses. I give her a clean pair and hold the smeared ones up to the light. Somehow, she managed to deposit about one hundred teeny-tiny fingerprints during the split second she held them.
Tom is standing at the far end of the counter, spraying cleaner into a rag. He aims the bottle my way as if to ask if I need it, but I just shake my head and use the edge of my T-shirt to wipe the glasses. Tom shrugs as he starts wiping the counter. He's about our age, but takes his job so seriously that I'll always think of him as "boss-man."
"Hey, Colt," Tom calls, "make sure your girlfriend's clear she's fine helping out, but you're responsible for the register."
Even though Tom already knows Colton and I are not together, we tell him in stereo that I'm not his girlfriend. Of course, saying it out loud makes my insides go all slasher-flick angry. I've had a thing for Colton ever since our adorable meet-cute.
In case you don't know, a meet-cute is the point in a romantic movie where the two lead characters meet each other for the very first time. I'm not sure where the name comes from, but I assume it has something to do with how quirky and adorable these meet-cutes always are. Colton and I had ours the first week my parents and I moved here, when I came to the theater alone so I could drown my sorrows in a nice light romantic comedy called Sundae Sunday.
I was looking forward to the movie, whose trailer promised the comforting formula of girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-and-boy-realize-they-are-each-other's-everythings-and -finally-get-to-the-point-of-the-wholefilm: true love's kiss.
When I walked into the cinema, Tom greeted me from behind the snack counter with a genuine smile. "What would you like to see today?" he asked with such enthusiasm that his love for his job was immediately clear.
He struck me as borderline cute, so I tried not to look like a friendless freak as I told him, "One for Sundae Sunday."
"You must be new around here," he said as he rang up my ticket.
"We just moved into town." I reached into my shoulder bag to get my wallet, and the plastic bag I was holding slipped from my hand. The bag dropped to the red carpet and the carton of malted milk balls inside rattled loudly. Very loudly.
Tom peered over the counter to see what was happening down by my feet. "Care to explain that rattling sound?" His friendly voice had turned crisp.
"Oh, that's just my Whoppers." I picked up the bag, pulled out the large tan carton, and grinned at him as I gave it a hearty shake.
"No outside food." He looked offended, as if he was some aspiring Willy Wonka who'd made the theater candy by hand and I'd insulted him by bringing my own personal stash.
"Sorry, I didn't know if you sold them or not, and I can't watch a movie without my malted milk balls." I scanned the snack menu. "Either way, it's cool because I'm buying popcorn."
"Why would buying popcorn make it cool for you to sneak food into the movie theater?"
"I wasn't sneaking it." I raised the flimsy bag and waved it in his face. The milk balls rattled noisily. "This bag is totally see-through."
He put his hands on his hips. "I'm going to need to confiscate those chocolates."
"Listen" — I squinted at his nametag — "Tom. This is my favorite movie treat ..."
"Do you have any idea how much a theater like this depends on refreshment profits? Do you even care if we keep our doors open? There is no outside food allowed. I'm sorry. No exceptions."
I gestured to the row of candy under glass. "You don't even carry Whoppers, so it's not like you're missing out on a sale. My old theater didn't carry them either, so they just let me bring my own."
"You are welcome to leave your malted milk balls with me. And may I interest you in one of our tasty chocolate confections to enjoy with your popcorn?"
Tom and I stared each other down for a few beats. He steepled his fingers like a Bond villain, and I noticed he was trying to hide a grin. Like he'd been hoping to have a Whopper standoff against someone all morning.
Finally, I snapped, "Fine." I pulled out my carton and peeled open the spout on one side. Shaking out a large handful of the chocolaty balls, I defiantly shoved them into my mouth and started chewing in his face with a loud crunch, crunch, crunch.
I found his wide-eyed reaction satisfying enough to push a second handful into my already bulging cheeks.
Which was exactly when the best-looking boy I'd ever seen in real life swooped in behind him. It was Colton.
Everything in the theater lobby shifted to slow motion when I saw him for the first time. I could practically feel my pupils dilate. My hearing sharpened. I began to salivate. Literally. As in, the milk balls in my mouth were dissolving into thick chocolate drool.
Colton — who I immediately dubbed "Drop-dead handsome-face" before I knew his name — gave an easy grin and asked us what was happening. Tom threw a hand over his mouth, covering his shocked laugh, and all I could do was stand there, breathing through my nose and trying not to choke on my chocolaty spit.
Tom filled him in on the contraband candy situation, emphasizing how much outside snacks were hurting the theater. "She's new to town." Tom gestured to my face. "I had no idea she'd take it this hard."
Colton leaned over and handed me a napkin, presumably to wipe the trail of brown drool off my chin. I tried to smile at him, but my cheeks were already stretched as wide as they could go.
"What did you do, frisk her?" Colton asked, looking at me curiously.
"No, the carton of Mighty Malts dropped and made a huge racket," Tom said. "I couldn't just ignore them."
I tried to correct him with a muffled, "Whoppers," which only served to send a fresh stream of chocolate drool down my chin.
Colton handed me a new napkin and winked at me. "Perhaps you're willing to buy an extra-large tub of popcorn for your snacking pleasure? You can keep your candy and we'll call things even."
I nodded and tried again. "They're Whoppers." More drool. I swiped the napkin Colton had given me across my chin.
"Missed a spot there," Colton said, and then — get this — he took the napkin from my hand and gently guided it along my chin. Meanwhile, his other hand swiped two Whoppers and popped them right into his beautiful mouth. "Mmmmm, chocolatey." His voice was so deep and his eye contact so intense, I had to take the napkin from his hand before I impulsively tried to lick his fingers.
Even if my mouth hadn't been packed with dissolved malt and chocolate, I would've been speechless.
Tom looked back and forth between us before finally giving a laugh of disbelief. With a shake of his head, he plucked an extra-large popcorn tub off the stack of empties, placed it on the counter, and said, "She's all yours, horse man."
"That's Colt." He leaned in closer to me. "Name's Colton."
I glanced down and saw he wasn't wearing a nametag like Tom's. I smiled. "Hi, Colton." This fountain of handsomeness hadn't only made me swoon with his gaze; he'd also rescued me from having to spite-eat an entire carton of Whoppers right in the lobby of my new town's only theater.
I remained mute as Colton prepared my enormous bucket of popcorn, but I noticed he slathered on extra butter and gave me another quick wink just before he took my money.
As I made my way toward the theater doors in my sugar-rush-enhanced state of happiness, I turned back to admire my rescuer one last time and ... walked directly into a giant, life-sized cutout of an armored superhero.
I screamed as my trough of popcorn went flying in all directions. I found myself flat on my back with the cardboard cutout lying on top of me. Colton rushed out from behind the counter and kneeled at my side. "Sorry, I told the boss we need to get rid of this thing. Victory Man has been trying to grab pretty girls all month."
As I lay there, my heart palpitating over his use of the word pretty, Colton lifted the cardboard cutout and pretended to slap Victory Man's masked face. I laughed as I accepted his hand of assistance, and then the two of us stood looking at each other awkwardly. Too late, I thought of the quip, "Victory Man needs to learn that some girls prefer to be their own hero," but the moment had passed.
If only I'd delivered that perfectly timed line during our meet-cute, I'd probably be Colton's girlfriend by now. Instead, my reaction was to drop to the floor on my hands and knees and maniacally start scooping the scattered popcorn back into the bucket.
"Don't worry about that," Colton said.
Tom must've been watching us, because he suddenly appeared with a broom and dustpan. "Here, this should help."
Colton took the broom and pretended to swat his boss in the butt. "Such a gentleman," he said. "Come on, I'll get you fresh popcorn. Er, or I should say fresh-ish popcorn."
I melodramatically batted my eyelashes, and gave a girlie "My hero" that thankfully made him laugh.
Before following him back over to the counter, I gathered up the last lingering kernels. Tom was busy straightening Victory Man's bent arm as I walked by, and I had to resist the urge to dump the salvaged popcorn over his head on my way to the garbage can.
Once I'd been given a brand-new popcorn bucket bigger than my head, Colton insisted on escorting me all the way to one of the red velvet fold-down seats. And from Sundae Sunday on, I was utterly his.
Our meet-cute had it all: quirky humiliation, a pratfall, and even adorable chocolate drool. At least, I've convinced myself my brown drool was somehow adorable. I pretend it's my genuine obsession with movies that's kept me coming back all summer, but I'm pretty sure it's obvious I'm only here during Colton's shifts.
He leans on the counter now and asks if I'm ready for tomorrow. I grin and nod as I scan my brain for a pithy comment about the first day of school. Before I can come up with anything, he turns to watch a couple walking through the theater's glass doors.
I can read their pinched expressions from across the room. Uh-oh. Desperation Date Night. Trying to fix a broken relationship with a trip to the local Cineplex.
The guy slides his hand over the woman's shoulder, and she shoots him a look as if he just wiped toxic slime on her. His hand drops back to his side. Couples like this are even worse than those first-date pairings where the awkwardness is so palpable, they should have to buy it a separate ticket. But at least first dates are supposed to be uncomfortable. Timeworn couples like these two are walking marques, warning of the misery that awaits if we choose the wrong partner.
This is why I will never settle for anything less than epic love. Magical, all-consuming, life-changing love. It's what I've been saving my first kiss for. I went out with exactly one boy from my microscopic old town, and I certainly wasn't about to waste my first kiss on someone who thought the movie Stand by Me was "just okay." I mean, honestly. My first kiss is going to count.
Colton politely sells the couple their tickets, but avoids making eye contact. Once they're out of earshot, he rubs his arms. "I think I need a sweater after that chill."
"I don't know why people even bother when things get that obviously bad."
"What's the point in staying together when there's zero passion?" he says, and my whole face feels like a warm, slow-motion explosion.
Gazing at his solid jaw, I sense that this could be it. My chance to actually move our love story a step forward. I'm filled with what must be hysterical post-action-flick boldness and give Colton a hip check, saying, "You know, I love passion fruit."
Colton looks at me as if I've sneezed directly into the popcorn warmer. Not the reaction I was hoping for. I straighten, and the two of us stare at each other.
I try to think of something else to say. Anything that will erase my weird produce affection confession. But as the silence grows between us, I curse my ability to always think up the perfect pithy remark after it's too late.
"So ... are you, um, wearing new school clothes tomorrow?" I ask.
"I do plan on being fully clothed." He cracks a smile, and I relax. "But I haven't really thought about what I'm wearing."
"My mom is always buying me outrageous outfits from the thrift store that I would never wear," I say. "This one time, she came home with a whole pile of jeans from, like, the nineteen eighties. One pair had such a high waist, the fly was about three feet long ..." I continue babbling about crotch zippers and weird vintage clothes as if I have an acute form of Social Tourette's. Colton just nods as he helps the next customers.
I don't even realize Tom is listening in until he interjects, "You should go with a wild new look for your first day of school, Andie."
"Gee, thanks?" I widen my eyes at Colton and he laughs.
"I mean, wearing a unique thrift-store outfit will really trademark you as an independent thinker." He points down to his black-and-white wing-tipped old-man shoes and shakes a toe at me. "Gives a vastly more interesting first impression."
"Andie doesn't need some outfit to make her interesting," Colton says, and I grin maniacally.
"Just saying." Tom shrugs. "Punx High is filled with boring drones who dress alike. It's nice when someone isn't afraid to sprinkle the place with a little originality."
"You and your crew provide more than enough originality, Tom. More like you hose down the whole school with your bizarreness."
"Wait a second," I say to Tom. "You're still in high school?"
He and Colton laugh hard at this while I look back and forth between them. "Don't let the pole up his butt fool you," Colton says. "Tom's a senior like us."
I know he doesn't look old old, but I definitely figured Tom was in college. Maybe a college from the 1950s, since he's wearing tight plaid pants with his wingtips. "You don't really act like a high school student."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Pretty in Punxsutawney"
Copyright © 2019 Laurie Boyle Crompton.
Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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