So for this weeks #FridayFeature I bring to you a guest post by Emily
The Smartest Girl in the Room
Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?
The Smartest Girl In The Room is Book One in The New Pioneers series.
Why Does Emily Want Her Diploma So Badly?
I am not that smart. I do enjoy learning, asking questions and talking to people about ideas. But I’m not brilliant. It only takes me a few minutes around someone who really knows their stuff for me to realize I little I know about anything.
What I have going for me is that I can work hard. I have no problem reading or writing for long periods of time, and if I run into a difficult math problem, I don’t mind working for a hours to solve it. (Although sometimes you do have to walk away for a little while to get some perspective.) When I decide I want to do something, I’m not easily distracted from it.
It was when I was taking Summer classes my first year that I realized I could graduate early. One of the other students in my Intro to Philosophy class was taking five classes so he could graduate. He’d been at the university for seven years and he needed to finally get out. He’d been taking five classes for the last few semesters. “I wish I’d known I could have done this earlier,” I overheard him saying to another student. “I’d rather have done this when I was eighteen. All the parties I went to... most of them were fun, but I’d trade all of them to have my diploma by now.”
A few days later, I overheard another conversation, this time between my mother and stepfather. “You’ve already gotten your Master’s,” she said. “I’ve had it there. I’m ready to leave. The haven’t given me a raise in three years, and they’re always talking about layoffs. I’m sick of feeling this way at work.”
I sort of wanted to throw up right then. Didn’t she care that I was still there? What was I supposed to do if she left the university before I graduated?
Yeah, I know, student loans. That just made me sicker. I remembered a friend’s sister breaking down in tears a few months after she’d graduated from college. She’d been able to find an entry level job in her field, but it was going to take her years to pay back her loans, even if she got a promotion once every three years. She didn’t want to ask her parents for help, but she didn’t have a choice.
My mother really hadn’t gotten a raise in three years; she wouldn’t be able to help with my student loans even if she’d wanted to.
I spent the next couple of days thinking about... the eighth grade. I was so excited to be leaving middle school. I felt like I was going to be free- no one was going to make fun of me any more for knowing the answer in Algebra or roll their eyes when I raised my hand in Social Studies. I was going to watch old Sixties television; I was going to read everything I could find about the history of the ancient world and Alexander the Great; I was going to teach myself Geometry and Calculus; maybe I’d finally learn to paint.
It was such a great fantasy, and it was exactly what I would have done if I didn’t have to go to high school. But maybe I could finally have that if I didn’t have to college.
You know what? That thought made me feel a little sick too. It was one thing to do whatever I wanted when I was fourteen, but it was something else to do it when I was eighteen. I wasn’t a kid anymore.
I went to the Registrar’s office that day and looked at the catalog for the Fall courses. What do you know, there were five classes I could take that fit my schedule and my major. I asked if they had the Winter catalog. No, just last Winter’s. Lightbulb. Could I have last Spring’s too?
I spent that afternoon going through the last year’s catalogs and making tentative plans. Then I added the credits up. Including the AP credits I’d just barely managed and the Summer classes, I could be halfway done by the end of Spring. But it was going to be a lot of work.
I thought about my classmate, my mother, old Sixties television and Alexander the Great. That was okay. I can do a lot of work.
Just a few more quarters now and I’ll be done. It’s funny- I find myself thinking about what I want to do when I am finally out. I know I should be thinking about a job, a place of my own and finally hanging out with my friends. And I bet I will do all of that. But I have to make myself think about that. When I let my mind wander, I still see myself reading a book about Alexander the Great while Mission: Impossible plays in the background.
Who is Deborah Nam-Krane?
Deborah Nam-Krane was born in New York, raised in Cambridge and went to school in Boston. You’re forgiven for assuming she’s prejudiced toward anything city or urban. She’s been writing in one way or another since she was eight years old (and telling stories well before that). She first met some of the characters in this story when she was thirteen years old, but it took two decades- and a couple of other characters- to get the story just right.
A blogger since 2006, she can be found in a number of places:
Join her mail list to find out about new releases
Posts You May Have Missed