Kids on Fire: An Excerpt From Guardian, About Life With A Service Dog

We’re happy to share this post from our sister site, Kids Corner @ Kindle Nation Daily, where you can find all things Kindle for kids and teens every day!

Last week we announced that Guardian by Katy Newton Naas is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:

Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!


by Katy Newton Naas

5.0 stars – 2 Reviews
Kindle Price: $2.99
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

Here’s the set-up:
When Kinsey Lydell enters seventh grade, the only thing she wants is to fit in. But being like everyone else isn’t easy when you have epilepsy. Especially when that means a dog has to follow you around everywhere you go.

Drake, Kinsey’s assistance dog, has been her best friend since the day she met him. They have a special connection – he can sense her seizures before they occur. The other students have always loved having Drake in the classroom, making Kinsey feel special, not strange. But just a short time in a new middle school changes all of that.

Kinsey can’t help but admire Taylor Thompson. The boys like her and the girls want to be like her. But from the first day of school, it’s clear that Taylor is determined to make Kinsey feel like an outsider. Suddenly, her best friend – the one who lives his whole life just to protect her – becomes her source of humiliation.

* * *


And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

It happens so fast, I don’t have time to be scared. A strange

smell, sort of metallic, fills my nostrils. My vision gets blurry, just

slightly, and I feel like I’m a million miles away. If I’m in the

middle of a conversation, the person talking suddenly sounds like

they’re speaking a different language. I feel a cold wind blowing

against my skin, but I start to sweat. My head feels light and the

next thing I know, I’m waking up on the ground and it’s over. I

have no memory of the episode itself, but every muscle in my body

aches. It makes Mrs. Henshaw’s famous physical fitness test in PE

class seem like a relaxing stroll on the beach. I am so sore that for

days, my body struggles to recover from the two–‐‑minute workout

of a lifetime.

This is the best description of what it’s like to have a seizure

that I can give. I get asked all the time, from curious classmates or

family members, to tell them how it feels. But the truth is, as far as

the seizure itself, I have absolutely no idea how to describe it. I

can’t remember them, any of them. Though I remember what it

feels like just before, the symptoms hit me all at once, and before I

can even warn the people around me, it takes over. And there is

absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t even slow it down. It

takes control of me; it owns me.

My name is Kinsey Lydell, and I have epilepsy. My seizures

are called tonic–‐‑clonic, which is a fancy way of saying I have the

really scary ones. No one knows why I have it. None of the usual

explanations are there: I haven’t suffered any head trauma or brain

injury, and I have no history of it in my family. When I was born, I

was normal, and then one day, I wasn’t.

It happened when I was only three years old. I don’t

remember my first seizure, but I once heard my mom tell my

doctor all the details. “We were just sitting on the floor. Kinsey was

building a tower out of blocks, and then suddenly her eyes went

blank. I knew something was wrong, but before I could react she

was lying in the floor. Her body convulsed and her eyes rolled back

in her head. I rushed to the phone to dial nine–‐‑one–‐‑one, but before

they even answered the call, the seizure was over. She was crying

hysterically, so confused…how do you explain to a three–‐‑year–‐‑old

what just happened when you don’t understand it yourself?”

When I heard my mom telling that story, she didn’t know I

was listening. She was in our living room, sitting on the edge of the

couch while my doctor sat facing her in the recliner. I hid behind

the wall in the hallway that led to my bedroom, which was where

they thought I was. Watching my mom’s big blue eyes fill with

tears as she relived that moment, her blonde curls bouncing slightly

as her shoulders shook, made me sorry I was ever even born. My

mom, the funniest, most bubbly person I knew, was in pain. And it

was all my fault.

That first seizure was followed by another one, just two days

later. And another one, shortly after that. I was labeled with

epilepsy before my fourth birthday. Because I’m the only child in

the family, my parents put all their time and energy into “fixing”


But the problem with epilepsy is, it’s unfixable. There is no

cure. There are only ways to control it, to help keep the seizures to

a minimum. And if it’s a treatment option, I’ve tried it. Vitamins,

medications…I’ve been through them all. There is a really scary

and expensive surgery that I’m not old enough for just yet, and I’m

hopeful that by the time I am old enough, I won’t need it. Not

because I’m scared – I’m not, really. It’s because I don’t want my

parents to have to pay for it. They have spent more money on me

over the last nine years than most parents spend on a whole family

of kids in a lifetime. I mean, they don’t tell me this, but they don’t

have to. I see things; I overhear conversations. I know what I cost


I’m telling you all of this and you’re probably thinking one

of two things. One – Wow, poor Kinsey, or two – This girl is a

basketcase. And let me assure you that both thoughts are wrong. I am

not crazy, and I am definitely not looking for sympathy. My life is

wonderful, and living with epilepsy doesn’t change that fact.

So, let the record show that I am not telling you all of this to

make you feel sorry for me or anything like that – I’m telling it

because I have a story that deserves to be told. I have been a part of

the greatest love story that has ever existed, and a story like this

just has to be shared. But don’t worry – this isn’t the mushy, kissy,

lovey–‐‑dovey, gross kind of story you see in the movies. This is real;

it’s pure and it’s strong. It brings a new meaning to the word


This is a love story about a girl and her dog.


Chapter One

There are parts of my life that my brain doesn’t allow me to

think about very often. A large portion of my childhood falls into

that category. After I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I was like one

giant, walking experiment. Everything I did, every aspect of my

life, was watched. What I ate, how I behaved – it was all recorded

in my medical charts. That’s the thing about seizures…you have to

figure out why they happen and try to keep them from coming

back. Did I have one after I ate some chocolate? Sorry, Kinsey, no

more sweets. Oh, wait, did I have another one after I ate potato

chips? Let’s cut back on salt or carbs. Any diet out there, I’ve tried

  1. And none of them kept me from having more seizures.

Then there was the medicine. This one seemed to work, but

it made me so hyper that I got in trouble all the time in school. My

brain jumped all over the place and I drove my teacher absolutely

crazy with my constant squirming and disrupting. Switch! Another

one, also helpful in controlling the seizures, left me tired and

groggy all the time. I was calm, but I walked around like a zombie.

I couldn’t concentrate on anything my teacher said. Switch! Yet

another kind, which made me so nauseous I couldn’t keep my food

down. Switch!

I felt like a rat in a science lab, a research investigation that

just kept going wrong. Constant visits to the doctor. My parents’

eyes, always puffy from little sleep and worried crying. The way

they tried to smile and pretend like nothing was wrong, but tiptoed

around me like I was a ticking time bomb. My teachers, who were

either annoyed by the disruption I caused or so sympathetic that

they expected basically nothing from me. I learned right away that I

didn’t have to try very hard on my schoolwork with some of my

early teachers. I could write half as much on my essays and still

earn the same grade as other students who tried harder and did

more work. All because of my condition.

I didn’t fit in. It wasn’t that the kids were mean to me – they

just weren’t overly nice to me, either. And looking back, I wouldn’t

have been nice to me, either. My head stayed down at the lunch

table and on the playground. A teacher’s aide had to follow me

everywhere I went. I didn’t try to talk to anyone my age and they

didn’t try to talk to me either. By second grade, I was an outcast. A

lonely, depressed outcast.

Again, I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry

for me. But I have to tell you, have to help you understand what

life was like at its worst. This way, you will be able to understand

what Drake, my dog, my saving grace, did for me. Everything that I

am, I owe to him.

I remember the day that the idea of a seizure assistance dog

was suggested. It was after a really, really bad seizure. I was in third

grade, playing outside after school. My mom was outside with me,

watching me ride my bike around our circular driveway. What

stands out in my memory the most from that day was how

beautiful my mom looked as she perched on the white wicker

swing on the porch. The highlights in her hair glistened, the blue of

her eyes brighter in the sun’s light. She has one of those smiles that

takes over her whole face – her eyes, her cheeks, even her forehead.

She was sitting there, smiling and cheering me on as I called for

her, “Look, Mom, I’m only using one hand!”

The next thing I knew, that familiar cold crept up on me, that

smell filled the air. And when I woke up, not only did I feel the

usual exhaustion, I felt pain. My head ached, and out of the corner

of my eye, I saw a pool of blood next to me. Mom stood over me,

crying hysterically as she lifted me in her arms and put me in the

car to rush me to the hospital. I learned later that I started seizing

while my bicycle was still in motion, which led to a horrific crash.

Thirteen head stitches later, I went home with a busted lip, a

swollen knee, and a bruised tailbone.

Long after I should have been asleep that night, I listened to

Mom and Dad talking about the idea of a seizure dog. Apparently,

this was an idea they’d been tossing around for some time, but the

cost, along with the mixed reviews, kept them from acting on it.

But my episode on the bicycle made them give it more thought.

A seizure dog? I didn’t know much about them, but I

couldn’t help the little bubble of excitement that formed in my

stomach at the thought. Pulling out my tablet immediately, I

started researching under the covers. I read story after story of

people who praised these dogs. Many claimed that these pets could

sense their seizures before they had them and warn them so that

they could get to safety. Other websites dismissed the idea. They

said that dogs could be trained to help people after the seizure

started, but they couldn’t truly predict the seizure before it

happened. And then there was the price. It varied from website to

website, but many were thousands and thousands of dollars.

I tried to forget the idea. The last thing I wanted was to be

even more of a burden, adding to the money problems that my

parents discussed when they thought I couldn’t hear them. And

what if it didn’t work? What if they spent all the money and then

the dog didn’t do what it was supposed to do?

But I couldn’t help it. I started imagining what my dog

would look like. I pictured a little dog with long brown hair that I

could put pink bows in. She would follow me around everywhere

and we would be best friends. I wouldn’t be alone anymore.

“David, we have to try it,” my mom coaxed. “Nothing else is

working. Come on, you saw what happened to her tonight. What if

it’s worse next time? We can’t…”

“I know, Amy,” my dad interrupted. “I know. I was for this

in the beginning, remember? But Dr. Lansing said that–‐‑”

“I know what Dr. Lansing said,” my mom cut him off

violently. “But Dr. Lansing didn’t see our baby girl getting stitches

put in her head, did he?” Mom’s voice cracked a little. There was a

pause, and then she continued. “Look, we’ve read all the stories. I

know it’s not foolproof. But this could be good for her, David. And

what if it does work? What if it’s the answer to our prayers we’ve

been waiting for all this time?”

In the silence that came after, I slipped out of my cozy twin

bed and into the dark hallway that led to the kitchen. Hiding

behind the wall, I heard my dad sigh. “Okay. I will call the bank,

get the loan paperwork ready in the morning. We will ask Dr.

Bratcher for the information for that company she recommended to

us last time we discussed the situation.”

“Dad?” I asked, peeking out from behind the wall.

Mom and Dad both jumped at the sound of my timid voice.

“Baby, what on earth are you doing up at this hour?” my mom

asked gently, coming forward to put her arm around my shoulder.

“You should be sound asleep, especially after the day you’ve had.

You need your rest to heal.”

“I know, but I couldn’t help but overhear what you were

talking about. About the dog.”

Mom stopped and took a step back, studying my face. I

looked back and forth between Mom and Dad, who both looked

exhausted, as usual.

“I just wanted to say that I have about fifty dollars saved up

in the jar in the back corner of my closet. My plan was to use it for a

new video recorder, so I could practice making music videos. But I

want you to have it. I mean, I know it’s not much, but every little

bit helps, right?”

Dad shook his head firmly as Mom blinked back tears.

“Absolutely out of the question,” Dad argued. “You’ve done a lot

of chores around here to earn that money. We would never take the

money you’ve worked so hard for.”

I sighed. “But Dad, my disease takes the money that you

work so hard for. It’s only fair.”

My mom turned her head away to hide the tears that spilled

over onto her cheeks. Dad took slow deliberate steps forward until

he was directly in front of me, his lean body towering over me at

six foot four inches. He squatted down to my eye level. “Now you

listen to me, and you listen good. You got it?”

I nodded, my eyes wide. Dad rarely sounded so firm with


“First of all, you do not have a disease. You have a condition,

a condition that you will live a long and healthy life with. There are

so many kids out there with other disabilities, other illnesses, which

will take their lives when they’re still young. You are beautiful and

smart and caring and talented, and you are going to grow up to

be…well, whatever you want to be. So we will be grateful every

day for that. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Dad,” I said softly. “I didn’t mean to–‐‑”

“I’m telling you this because I want you to know that your

mom and I…we are grateful for everything you are. We are so

blessed. As far as your epilepsy? Yes, we would take it away from

you if we could. No parent wants to watch his child suffer. But we

still go to bed every night thanking God for giving us you. And that

means everything about you. We don’t care about the money. We

care about you. So promise me something right now, okay?”

“Okay,” I agreed weakly.

“Don’t give the money another thought. Everything will

work out just fine. God is good, and He provides.”

I nodded. “I know that, Dad. And I won’t worry about it

anymore.” It was a lie, of course – I knew I couldn’t help but to

worry about it. But I knew I would never forget Dad’s words.

When he wrapped me in a tight hug, my mom joined us from

behind, enveloping us both. I never felt more loved, more secure,

than I did at that moment.

“You guys?” Still in their arms, my head on Dad’s shoulder,

I needed them to know something. “It’s okay if you decide against

the dog. But I just want to tell you that I think it might be the best

idea we’ve ever had.”

Mom smoothed my brown curls, wild from laying on them.

The curls were the one thing I inherited from her – though mine

were dark in contrast to her blonde. Other than that I was the

spitting image of my dad. I had his brown eyes, his round nose, his

heart–‐‑shaped face.

“Go back to bed, sweetheart,” my mom whispered. “We

can’t promise you anything as far as the dog goes, so don’t get your

hopes up too high. But we will find out everything we can. And if

it’s at all possible, we will make it happen, okay?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “Good night. I love you guys.”

“We love you too,” they echoed, giving me quick kisses on

the forehead.

When I turned down the hallway, I paused slightly before

rushing back to my bed, just long enough to hear my mom

whisper, “She’s excited about it.”

“I know. I can’t remember the last time she was excited about

something,” Dad whispered back.

“That’s reason enough for me,” Mom mumbled.

“Me, too,” Dad said with a smile in his voice.


Chapter Two

I was nervous the day we flew out to California. In my nine

years, I had never gone too far outside of our little blink–‐‑and–‐‑you–‐‑

miss–‐‑it town in southern Illinois, much less ridden in an airplane.

When the plane started creeping to the runway, my stomach leapt

in anticipation. As it began to pick up speed, I wanted to stop the

flight, beg my parents to forget the whole idea so we could turn

around and go back home. But then I remembered what we were

doing and my brain ordered my arms to stop shaking. I laid my

head back in an attempt to relax. We were going to pick up my


All I knew about Drake was that he was a German

Shepherd. My parents and I were going to spend two weeks at the

training facility in California where he lived. They would teach us

how to interact with him, how to bond with him, so that he could

become my very own seizure alert dog. After training was

completed, he would board a plane back to southern Illinois with


So many questions filled my head. What if he didn’t like me?

What if he didn’t want to join my family, become my protector?

And what if…what if it didn’t work? What if my parents put all

this time, all this money into this hope, and then he wasn’t able to

sense my seizures? What would happen then?

Despite my worrying, I was absolutely ecstatic. In my mind,

Drake was already my best friend. We would go everywhere

together. I would tell him things that I couldn’t tell anyone else,

and he would listen quietly and love me no matter what I said or

did. My seizures wouldn’t make him scared of me.

Throughout the plane ride, I envisioned our life together. I

must have had a goofy smile plastered across my face, because I

didn’t even notice my mom eyeing me suspiciously, smiling.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

I just shook my head. “Can’t a girl smile for no reason?”

She and my dad, who sat on my other side, exchanged

glances before she reached over and took my hand. “Of course,

sweetheart. I always love to see you smile.”

“A smile like yours can light up a whole room,” Dad added,

leaning over to bump his shoulder against mine. “You should

really do it more often.”

I grinned up at him, suddenly feeling shy. “I’ll try.”

The plane ride felt like an eternity, though I guess it was

only a few hours. I tried to read the books I brought with me, but

just couldn’t concentrate. All I wanted was to get to Drake.

And after checking in to our hotel, that was exactly what we

did. We arrived at the Training Facility for Assistance Dogs, and

my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest. I

smoothed my curls and took a deep breath. Feeling nervous, I got

between my parents and took their hands, letting them lead me in

through the front door.

After my dad filled out the paperwork at the front desk, the

trainer came out to meet us. “Hello, Lydell family. I’m Michelle, the

one you’ve been speaking with on the phone the last couple of

weeks. It’s so nice to meet you in person. Did you have a nice


“We did, thanks,” my dad said politely.

“And you must be Kinsey,” she said, reaching out her hand

for mine.

I nodded and shook her hand, almost too nervous to make

eye contact.

“Well, Kinsey, I’ve got someone who’s very excited to meet

you. Do you wanna come with me?”

“Yes!” I replied with more force and volume than I intended.

“Well, if it’s okay with you, Mom and Dad, I’m going to

bring Kinsey back by herself first. I am going to help her get

acquainted with Drake for a few minutes before I introduce him to

the rest of the family. Sound good?”

“Sure,” they both agreed. Mom squeezed my shoulder

gently and Dad rubbed the top of my head the way he often does.

Of all the memories in my head, the first time I made eye

contact with Drake stands out as one of the most vivid. He was

lying on the floor when we entered but immediately sat up to greet

  1. His tan and black body shook a little when our gazes locked; his

big, innocent brown eyes stared deep into mine.

“Kinsey, this is Drake,” Michelle was saying, but I barely

even heard her. All I could think about was how perfect he was,

how much I loved him already.

“Can I pet him?” I breathed, never taking my eyes from his.

“Come here, Drake,” Michelle called, and it was like she

unleashed him from a chain. He shot toward us and stopped right

in front of me, his tail wagging expectantly.

I bent down to rub his head, and then dropped to my knees

to wrap him in a hug. I almost fell over when he leaned into me,

pushing his body against mine to show me how much he loved me,


At that moment, I already knew he was worth every penny

we spent. But in just a few days at the training facility, he

confirmed it.

It happened when I was simply sitting on the floor, reading

a book. Mom, Dad, Michelle, Drake, and I had just finished our

lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup. The next training session

would begin in an hour, so I was relaxing while Drake stood across

the room, lapping up some water from his bowl. Suddenly, Drake’s

head raised and he turned toward me, the hair on his back standing

  1. It caught my eye first, followed by my mom’s. She and I

exchanged glances, and then we looked back at Drake. He came

bounding toward me, pushing his nose under my arm and whining

strangely. Then, he turned toward my parents and Michelle, who

were all watching by this point, and barked.

“He’s alerting us,” Michelle said calmly. “Kinsey, honey,

how do you feel? I need you to just stay in place and don’t get

nervous, okay?”

Calmly, I waited for the familiar smell, the cold tingling, but

nothing was happening. “Hey, I don’t think anything is wrong. Are

you sure he’s not trying to tell us something else? I don’t feel


And that’s the last thing I remember.

Later I woke up, crying from the aching of my muscles, and I

swear that Drake cried, too. When I was able to sit up, I simply

patted the ground next to me and he ran right over. I wrapped my

arm around him and he leaned against me, letting me rub his back.

Mom and Dad came over with tears streaming down their

faces and gave him tight hugs. If they weren’t sold on him already,

they were now. “You knew,” Dad kept repeating. “You knew.”

I knew after that moment that my whole life was going to

change. And I was right. When we took Drake home, it was as if

he’d always belonged there. The only member of the family who

was not happy to see him was our cat, Chaucer, who was waiting at

the door when we got home.

“Hi, Chaucer cat!” I greeted him. “Did Mrs. Bishop take

good care of you while we were gone?” He ignored me, as usual,

and his back arched at the sight of Drake. “Drake, this is our cat,

Chaucer. Chaucer, you be nice to your new brother.”

Drake took that as his cue to smell Chaucer in greeting. His

nose was met immediately by the slap of Chaucer’s paw as he

hissed his warning to back away.

“Chaucer!” I scolded. “Be nice. He’s part of our family now.”

His low growl told me exactly how he felt about that. But I

wasn’t worried about it – they would learn to get along eventually.

When summer was over and I started fourth grade, Drake

got to come with me. My teacher, Mrs. Williams, held an assembly

for the entire class to introduce Drake and me. Most of the students

already knew who I was. But I missed a lot of school and when I

was there, I kept to myself. There were several students in the class

that I’d known for years but had never spoken to.

“How many students in this room have a dog?” Mrs.

Williams asked.

Most of the hands went up, students waving eagerly to share

a story about their own pets.

“Well, we are here today to meet a very special dog. His

name is Drake, and he will be here with us every day this year.”

Drake and I stood at the front of the room, waiting for the

students’ reactions. Excited whispers buzzed at this news, which

made me more comfortable, more confident.

“Kinsey, would you like to tell the class a little bit about

what makes Drake so special?”

I took a deep breath. Talk in front of the whole class? I had

never done that in my entire life. But one look at Drake and I knew

I had to be the one to explain about him. I was the only one who

could truly describe just how amazing he really was.

So I began. “Well, I just got Drake this summer and he’s

already my best friend. You see, I have epilepsy. I know you guys

already know that, but you remember how I would have seizures

sometimes? And they were really scary?”

“Yes,” the whole class responded in unison.

“Drake is a seizure assistance dog. He can tell when I’m

going to have a seizure before I can even tell. He can tell when

certain chemicals in my body change, and he can warn the class

about it before it even starts to happen. That way, the teacher can

get me to a safe place and get everyone else out of the way.”

As the class oohed and ahhhed in response, a hand shot up.

Morgan, a redheaded girl I’d been in class with for the past three

years, didn’t wait for the teacher to call on her. “How does the dog

know that?”

I shrugged. “He’s just really smart. It’s one of those things

that only dogs can sense – people can’t even do it.”

“Can we pet him?” was the next question out of her mouth.

I smiled. “Yes, if it’s okay with Mrs. Williams.”

“How about one at a time?” Mrs. Williams suggested. “We

don’t want to overwhelm the dog. If you want to pet Drake, we will

take turns starting right up here.” She pointed at a girl in the front

row, who immediately jumped to her feet and bounced over to us.

One by one, every student in the class took his turn

welcoming Drake to our classroom. And the amazing part was,

each one talked to me, too. My social interaction – nonexistent to

this point – was developing by the minute.

After every student had a turn to pet him, a student in the

back of the room raised his hand. I looked over to see that it was

Grady, a boy I’d known since kindergarten. Well, maybe known is

not the right word – we’d barely spoken. Noticed would be a better

term for it. “Mrs. Williams, do you think we could make Drake the

class mascot?”

“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Mrs. Williams said, smiling

warmly at Grady before turning to me. “What do you think,


“Sure,” I agreed, smiling shyly as the class cheered.

When I took my seat in the middle of the room, Drake

escorted me and lay quietly at my feet, just like we had trained him

to do. We went through math and reading before Mrs. Williams

announced that it was time to line up for lunch.

When I got up to push in my chair, I was shocked when

several kids came rushing over to me. “Can we sit with you


I was so flabbergasted that I had to look behind me to make

sure they were really talking to me. Never had a kid asked to sit

with me at lunch. “Okay,” I said with wide eyes.

At lunch that day, I met the two girls who I still call my best

friends (besides Drake, of course). Morgan, the short redheaded girl

who first asked to pet Drake, sat on my left. Her fiery hair matched

her personality; she was outspoken, funny, and just so confident.

Not confident in a bad way, the way some people can be. She

wasn’t snobby or rude. But when she had an opinion about

something, she was going to share it, and she said it with such force

that you took it to be truth, even if she told you the grass was


On my right sat Lynn, a girl who couldn’t be more opposite

than Morgan in any way. Lynn was tall and lanky with long,

straight brown hair and wire–‐‑rimmed glasses that made her look

smart. Or maybe it was the book that was constantly in her face

that made her look that way. She was quiet and reserved. Though

she didn’t talk a lot, when she did, it was usually to say something


As opposite as they were, I felt like I was the compromise of

the two. In height and size, I was right in the middle. Morgan was

shorter and thicker, while Lynn was taller and skinnier. My curly

hair sat on my shoulders, while Lynn’s stick–‐‑straight hair hung

down her back and Morgan’s stopped just past her chin in a cute

little bob that curled in toward her face.

I wasn’t as smart and quiet as Lynn, but I did enjoy reading.

My grades couldn’t compare to hers – because of my absences and

all the problems I’d had with medications in the past, my grades

went up and down like a roller coaster – but I wanted to do well in

school, so we had that in common. A letter grade couldn’t have

meant less to Morgan. She would accept a paper with an A written

at the top with the same enthusiasm as one with a D. But she liked

to laugh, and I quickly learned that I did, too. And she enjoyed

acting and singing, something I secretly loved to do as well.

Despite our differences, we became inseparable over the

course of that year, and we still are to this day. I met so many other

kids in my class who are now the people I consider my good

friends. There’s Grady, who is so cute and popular but is still nice

to the kids in the class who act weird or don’t smell too great. Out

of all the guys in our class, he is my favorite. Then there are others

– Mandy, who is an amazing artist and drew a picture of me and

Drake and gave it to me as a Christmas present; Gracie, who likes

to write and created a storybook about Drake, which Mrs. Williams

kept in our classroom for the year and then gave it to me as a

present when we left for the summer.

All of these smart, talented, nice kids, and I didn’t know a

single one of them. And now I do. I’m not known as the girl who’s

sick all the time, the girl who never talks, anymore. When kids in

the class have birthday parties, I get invited now, and not just

because their moms make them invite me. I have friends; I enjoy

school. And all of it – every last bit of it – is because of Drake.


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