After being abandoned by her mother in a most unusual place, a defiant heroine sticks to her plan for staying hidden—even though getting caught could mean saving her life.
I'm thrilled to be hosting a spot on the 102 DAYS OF LYING ABOUT LAUREN by Maura Jortner Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post on this heartfelt middle-grade novel and make sure to enter the giveaway!
About the Book:
Title: 102 DAYS OF LYING ABOUT LAUREN
Author: Maura Jortner
Pub. Date: June 20, 2023
Publisher: Holiday House
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
After being abandoned by her mother in a most unusual place, a defiant heroine sticks to her plan for staying hidden—even though getting caught could mean saving her life. Twelve-year-old Mouse calls an amusement park home. Nobody notices her, and that's the way she likes it. Mouse sweeps the streets and wears a uniform she “borrowed” and sleeps on the top floor of the Haunted House of Horrors. She knows which security guards to avoid, eats the bagel left out each morning for the Ghost of Summer (a popular theme park legend), and even has the taco guy convinced that her lunch is paid for. She has her special hiding methods down to a science. But one morning, a girl named Cat comes looking for Lauren Suszek. Cat notices her, and Mouse doesn’t like it. Mouse cannot let this nosy pest find out who she really is! If Mouse gets discovered living in the park, Mama might come back for her, and Mouse doesn’t want that. Or—even worse?—Mama might not come back at all. Mouse knows she can lose this girl without blowing her cover. She just has to follow her rules. A carefully constructed life in the park is all she needs. Right? Anchored by memorable characters and an extraordinary setting, Maura Jortner’s brilliant debut novel is bursting with grit, humor, and heart. A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
"Debut author Jortner’s writing is smooth and interesting. . . ."—Kirkus Reviews "A moving debut from Jortner that retains a sense of adventure while lightly exploring an experience of abandonment."—Publishers Weekly "Mouse is a main character to root for—with plenty of spunk, humor, and heart." —Ben Guterson, Edgar Award-nominated author of Winterhouse "Hilarious, absorbing, and immensely endearing, here is a story that will have your whole heart. This book is alive with 'Park Magic.'" —Chris Baron, author of Sydney Taylor Notable Book The Magical Imperfect "Told with the feel of a classic, 102 Days of Lying about Lauren is a truly special book full of hope, friendship, and heart—all the things you need to weather the worst of storms." —Ally Malinenko, author of Ghost Girl
Every morning, the skeleton-rooster let out a cock-a-doodle-doo that could shake a person to their very core. It was so loud you could hear it all the way to the long line of silver turnstiles where the guests waited to get into this amusement park. That rooster clung to his perch on top of the Scary Farmhouse with the nastiest pair of bony rooster feet you ever saw. The Scary Farmhouse was two attractions down from the Haunted House of Horrors, so I considered him a neighbor. I called him Mr. Noisy McSkinnyBones. I thought it was funny, and I tried to hold on to a sense of humor, despite everything.
Normally, when I heard Mr. Noisy McSkinnyBones give everyone that Wake up now! farmhouse shout, I was already sneaking past the Bloody River Rapids ride, edging my way along the outer wall of the park. Today, though, when he let his cock-a-doodle-doo rip, I was still lying on the floor with a thin beach towel tucked under my head, holding my old Barbie doll close to my face.
The Barbie’s name was Pretty Dolly because (1) I got her when I was really little, and (2) no one around me had the guts to argue. Heck, no one said a word about it. Life is tragic sometimes, I guess.
The towel I had was threadbare in places, but it was long enough to wrap around my neck and tuck under my head, so I pretended it was a blanket and a pillow. If anyone asked, I was all set. I had a blanket and a pillow, thank you very much. I was fine.
When the last notes of Mr. Noisy McSkinnyBones’s call faded into the morning air, I jolted up so fast both the towel and Pretty Dolly went flying. What the cream cheese and jelly? Why was I still sleeping? If the skeleton-rooster was cock-a-doodle-dooing, it had to be seven thirty—a half hour before the guests would arrive—and if it was seven thirty, I had overslept. A lot.
Crap weasels with skinny, scary chickens on top.
I would have run to the small window that hung on the east wall and looked out, but that would break rule #4— Don’t look out the window—and those rules had been written for important reasons, so I stopped myself and did the next-best thing. I took a few steps back. When you stood at just the right spot in this attic-like room and held your neck at just the right angle, you could see the sky outside.
That was why I’d overslept.
It was sunny 90 percent of the time in Florida. Every morning, the sun’s rays would find me through the window, and it was like being kissed awake.
That’s what I would have said to anyone who asked, anyway.
The other 10 percent of the time was usually in the afternoon. A quick thunderstorm would blow in, dump a bunch of rain, and then clear out. Cloudy in the morning almost never happened. Or, at least, I’d never seen it happen here before.
The last few days had been so hot and muggy it was like living in somebody’s armpit. Maybe cloudy meant a cold front was blowing in. Or maybe it meant a storm.
I didn’t give it much thought either way because the real problem with clouds this morning was that Tanner would beat me to the Ghost Town entrance marker. I had to rush. I had to win this race.
Tanner and I had been racing to the Ghost Town entrance marker since early May. It was a game I started and a challenge I maintained. One of the reasons I kept it going was because I always won, and winning was a great way to start the day.
I won every day because I cheated, of course. Living here in this park gave me an edge. But Tanner didn’t know that. No one did.
Rule #1—Don’t tell anyone where you live.
About Maura Jortner:
Maura Jortner teaches creative writing and literature at Baylor University. She lives in Texas with her husband, two daughters, and a cat that can do tricks. Though she doesn’t do big roller coasters, she loves a good haunted house attraction. This is her debut novel.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of 102 DAYS OF LYING ABOUT LAUREN, US Only.
Ends July 25th, midnight EST