Rebeccas rules, p.1
‘Carey’s teen voice is spot-on … will delight any Louise Rennison fan.’
‘I laughed and squirmed my way through The Real Rebecca, the sparkling and spookily accurate diary of a Dublin teenager. It’s stonkingly good and I haven’t laughed so much since reading Louise Rennison. Teenage girls (and grown-up teens) will love Rebecca to bits!’
Sarah Webb, author of the Ask Amy Green books
‘This book is fantastic! Rebecca is sweet, funny and down-to-earth, and I adored her friends, her quirky parents, her changeable but ultimately loving older sister and the swoonworthy Paperboy.’
‘What is it like inside the mind of a teenage girl? It’s a strange, confused and frustrated place, as Anna Carey’s first novel The Real Rebecca makes clear … A laugh-out-loud story of a fourteen-year-old girl, Rebecca Rafferty.’
‘Our new Book of the Week is The Real Rebecca by Anna Carey, a great new voice and definite Princess of Teen.’
Books for Keeps
‘The story rattles along at a glorious rate − with plenty of witty asides. Rebecca herself is a thoroughly likeable heroine − angsty and mixed-up but warm-hearted and feisty.’
About the Author
Many thanks to Brenda Boyne, Donna Sorensen, my patient and supportive editor Susan Houlden and everyone at the O’Brien Press; fellow giant-gas-jet winner Chris Judge for another wonderful cover; Helen Carr for general awesomeness and putting up with me borrowing her books for months; Miriam McCaul and Sam Murray for entertaining lunch outings when I was languishing in the creative doldrums; Fiona Cullen for the useful information on school musicals (much of which I then had to ignore for plot reasons); everyone on Twitter who encouraged, inspired and distracted me, especially Mary Macfarlane for helping me get a better handle on John’s character and Sarah Franklin for general cheering; Sarra Manning and Sarah Webb for their much-appreciated support and encouragement; the late and much-missed Caroline Walsh for all her kindness; the extended Carey and Freyne families (especially the always-entertaining younger generation, Arlo, Cillian and Senan); Ju Ju, even though her noisiness distracted me when I was trying to write; and, as ever, my husband Patrick Freyne, for being funny and brilliant and coming up with the idea of Rebecca’s parents having been in a musical themselves. And most of all, to everyone who read and enjoyed The Real Rebecca. I hope you like this book.
To my sisters Lisa, Jenny and Rachel.
Even though Jenny and Rachel actually got to be in school musicals and I didn’t.
This is not what I thought Valentine’s Day would be like this year.
For one, I didn’t get a Valentine’s card. Or even a Valentine’s e-mail. Or even a Valentine’s text. This wouldn’t have been a big deal six months ago because, back then, I didn’t know any boys who could send me any sort of Valentine’s greetings. But for a while back in autumn, I was very optimistic about the future because quite a few good things had happened.
GOOD THINGS THAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR
I got a drum kit and started a band called Hey Dollface with my best friends.
We wrote some songs and played our first gig and even though I fell off the stage, people thought we were pretty good.
I met the coolest, nicest, most gorgeous boy ever, who happened to deliver our newspapers every weekend, and he actually liked me and kissed me after the Battle of the Bands, despite the fact that I’d just fallen off a stage like an idiot, and then we started seeing each other.
So that was all brilliant. But then there were bad things too, including one thing so bad it almost cancels the good things out.
BAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR
My mother wrote a terrible book about a stupid girl and everyone thought it was about me.
I got a mad new English teacher who was obsessed with my mother’s books.
My hair continued to look like a sort of brown wavy mop.
My classmate Vanessa tried to force me to go on a terrible reality programme about horrible spoiled teenagers and their mad birthday parties.
And my lovely perfect boyfriend (for three weeks) and his little brother and their stupid parents all moved to Canada.
Canada! I will never be happy again. When we got together after the Battle of the Bands, I thought we would live happily ever after. I was even too excited to write in this diary. But we only got to go out for a few weeks and then his dad got a job designing bridges or something in Vancouver, and off they went. And now it’s February, and he’s been gone for over two months, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it here until now. I will never love another boy again.
I said this to Alice a few weeks ago and she said, ‘Are you sure? I mean, Bex, you’re only fourteen. You’re probably going to live for at least, like, five more decades. I think it might be quite difficult to avoid it. Loving another boy, I mean.’
Sometimes I think Alice does not have a very romantic soul. She doesn’t understand my sorrow anymore. Today I mentioned my lack of Valentines and she just started talking about how this year’s school musical is coming up, as if I cared about our year putting on a production of Mary Poppins – Hey Dollface is the only musical outlet I need, thanks very much.
I didn’t even bother telling her how disappointed I really was about the Valentine’s card (or lack of it). To be honest, I felt a bit stupid hoping Paperboy would send me one. After he left, we chatted on Facebook and mailed each other all the time, but after a few weeks it all kind of … slowed down a bit. The last time I heard from him was last week (five days and thirteen hours ago) and he told me that his class were going skiing on a school trip. They’re going to stay in a fancy ski lodge and have skiing and snowboarding lessons.
The most exciting school trip my class has ever been on was a geography trip to Glendalough, and that was only exciting because Ellie backed away while Miss Kelly was telling us about how the valley had been made by glaciers ploughing across the land, and because she wasn’t looking where she was going, she fell into the lake (Ellie, of course, not Miss Kelly. Miss Kelly would never fall into a lake by accident. She is alert at all times, lest some environmental disaster take her by surprise). I mailed him back and told him about the lake incident but he hasn’t replied yet. So much for romance.
I can’t believe I was so happy a few months ago. After he kissed me outside the Battle of the Bands, I spent the entire week in a sort of daze. We hadn’t even exchanged numbers or anything so I had to wait until he came for the paper money on Friday to see him again. I was a bit worried beforehand in case he turned up and told me he’d decided that the whole kissing thing had been a big mistake.
But he didn’t. He still liked me. We stayed talking on my doorstep for ages until he realised he was really late for the rest of his paper round and had to run off to the next house on his list (but he kissed me very quickly when he said goodbye). And we went into town together the next day, and there was more kissing, and he was really funny and cool, and somehow even though I was nervous it was really easy to talk to him. I thought I’d be too intimidated by (a) his incredible gorgeousness and (b) the funny/cool aspect, but I wasn’t. It turned out he lived in Clontarf (he cycled up to our estate to do his paper job) and of course he told me what his real name was and it is a very nice name (and not any of the names I guessed), but I don’t want to write it down. I still think of him as Paperboy really, not least beca
‘He just looks like a Paperboy,’ said Cass. ‘It suits him.’
‘Yes,’ said Alice. ‘I sort of think of Paperboy as being a real name these days.’
So do I, to be honest. If we’d got to go out for longer I might have got used to thinking of him as his actual name, but we didn’t, so I didn’t.
I think I must have been cursed at birth or something. I couldn’t believe it when he told me about his dad’s new job. His mum lost her job last year so there was no real reason (according to his parents) that they couldn’t go straight away. It only took a few weeks for them to move (his cousin and her husband are renting his house from his parents so they didn’t even have to sell anything) so it was all a bit of a blur. One minute he was there, the next he was in Canada. Surrounded by moose and mounties and Anne of Green Gables, as I said at the time. (Alice said that Canada wasn’t like that at all, and that Vancouver was a much bigger, fancier city than Dublin, but for some reason I imagine him in a sort of rustic wilderness. Possibly riding a moose. And wearing some sort of checked shirt.)
Of course, as if to taunt me about how crappy my life has become, my stupid big sister Rachel got a big card today from Saint Tom, her boyfriend who can do no wrong. It wasn’t in the post this morning and I have to admit that when the post arrived and there was nothing but bills for Mum and Dad I was a bit glad because though Rachel has actually been surprisingly nice to me about the whole only-boy-I’ll-ever-love-going-to-Canada thing, the fact that she has such a perfect boyfriend has been adding to my general misery. But of course the only reason Tom didn’t send a card in the post was because he called around after school with the card and a big bouquet and took Rachel out for dinner in the posh little cheese place on Drumcondra Road. After they’d left, I said, ‘I can’t believe you’re letting her go out for dinner on a school night. You know they’re going to drink loads of wine there? Are you fine about that? Maybe you should go after them.’
‘They won’t have loads of wine,’ she said. ‘The staff know perfectly well they’re underage. And it’s only six o’clock − Rachel’s going to be back by eight so she can do her homework then.’
The staff do know she’s underage, it’s true. We’ve been going there for a while with the whole family. So Rachel is unlikely to go on a massive wine-fuelled bender. Actually, I felt a bit mean trying to sabotage her romantic date. My broken romance has made me all bitter already. I feel a bit sad at the moment. I don’t even feel like reading or watching TV or going online. I think I’ll listen to some sad music and gaze out the window for a while.
I sat and stared out the window and listened to Nick Drake and thought about Paperboy for five minutes but had to give up and go downstairs because one of the little Mulligan kids who lives across the road was at her bedroom window too SPYING ON ME like the little freak she is. And when I looked up she started making sad faces and pretending to cry! She was mocking my anguish! Of course I turned around and tried to ignore her but after a while I couldn’t help looking back, and when she saw me she started waving at me and doing a stupid dance. She had put on bright pink fluffy ear-muffs and kept gyrating around the place and shaking her bum at me and laughing. I tried to ignore it but even when my back was turned I just KNEW she was there wriggling around. So in the end I was driven out of my own bedroom. It’s very difficult being properly miserable around here.
I can’t believe my mother. She physically dragged me out of my bed this morning!
‘I do not want you lying there all day moping,’ she said. She had my duvet in her arms so there was no point in me trying to go back to bed again. ‘I know you’re still upset, but you can’t act like you’ve given up on life! You’re only fourteen!’
Why do people keep pointing out my age to me? It’s not like I’ve forgotten how old I am.
‘I’ll be fifteen in a few months,’ I said. ‘And anyway, I haven’t given up on life. I’ve just given up on getting any pleasure from it ever again. I am a hollow shell of a girl.’
My horrible mother sighed and rolled her eyes. She is so heartless. I can’t believe she ever knew the anguish of love, like I do. Of course, she pretended she understood, but I know she doesn’t. Otherwise she wouldn’t shove me out of bed when I want to wallow in my misery.
‘Rebecca, I can guarantee that you will enjoy life again,’ she said. ‘Before I started going out with your dad I went to America for the summer and went out with a lovely American boy. When I went back to college I thought I’d be miserable forever. And that year I met your dad!’
Oh, like the prospect of meeting someone like my dad is going to cheer me up. I said this but Mum said if she hadn’t met my dad, I would never have been born (which is true, obviously) and you never know what the future will hold.
In fact, she stood over me for ages spouting rubbish about how when you’re my age ‘every little thing feels like a tragedy’ and how in a few years I’ll look back at this time and wonder what I was so upset about. It was very annoying. Then she practically forced me to have a shower and get dressed because she was going to take me out. And what fun life-affirming activity did she have in store for me then? A trip to the cinema? Going into town to buy me a whole new wardrobe?
No! She dragged me out to the supermarket! Rachel and Dad were both out and she said she knew if I was home alone, I’d just ‘sit there feeling sorry for myself’ (I think it’s a good thing I feel sorry for myself. God knows no one else does.)
So basically, I just spent my precious Saturday afternoon in Superquinn. I bet my mother didn’t want to cheer me up, she just wanted a shopping slave. If she really wanted to show me how wonderful life is, surely there are better ways than making me wander around a supermarket with a wonky trolley looking at tins of beans? AND I had to carry loads of bags into the house afterwards and help unpack them! I feel even more sorry for myself than ever now, so her stupid plan didn’t even work. Some mother she is.
My mother has ‘rewarded’ me for the trip to the supermarket by making one of my favourite dinners, lentil and chicken casserole. She didn’t even make me rinse the lentils or chop up mushrooms for it (she made Rachel do it instead, which was the only bright spot in this stupid day). I would have liked to refuse it in protest at her uncaring treatment of me, but it smelled too delicious so I just ate it grudgingly instead. She didn’t say anything else about trying to cheer me up. I hope she has realised that there’s no point because I will never be cheerful again. I am going to stay up here in my room all evening listening to forlorn music. Luckily the Mulligans are out, so there’s no chance of that kid tormenting me with her idiot dancing. I can ponder my misery in peace.
FIVE MINUTES LATER
The Mulligans must have come home because that stupid kid is at the window! And she’s started dancing and making faces at me again! I’m going downstairs to get a hot drink. Hopefully she’ll have got bored by the time I come back.
Went down to get that drink and found Mum and Rachel drinking hot chocolate and watching an old black and white musical in the sitting room. I didn’t mean to stay, but the dancing was really cool so I found myself watching the rest of it with them. It turns out it is quite hard to feel miserable when you are watching people dance like that. I didn’t tell Mum or Rachel that, though. I pretended I just happened to feel like sitting in that room for a bit. I don’t think they would understand that just because you are VERY TEMPORARILY enjoying some old-fashioned dancing it doesn’t mean that your heart is not broken forever.
Band practice this afternoon. We haven’t been practising so much recently because Cass had a piano exam last week and her parents were making her practise Mozart etc all the time rather than the collected works of Hey Dollface. Which is a shame because without really realising it at the time, we actually have got better. And lik
‘You know, on the plus side,’ said Cass, about a week after Paperboy left, when I had more or less stopped crying all the time, ‘not that there really is a plus side of course. But if there was, it would be that Paperboy going away will give you lots of material for songs.’
‘It’s true,’ said Alice. ‘I bet writing songs would be very therapeutic. So would banging those drums very hard, by the way.’ We were sitting in our practice room out at Alice’s place in Kinsealy at the time. Cass had come up with a new bassline and Alice was putting chords to it. I was meant to be drumming along, but I was so miserable I just tapped forlornly at the snare drum. After Alice said that, I started bashing them a bit harder and it did make me feel better. And so did writing some lyrics about what it’s like to meet the boy of your dreams and then lose him to the wilds of Canada (or the Vancouver suburbs, if you’re going to be finicky about it). The first one I wrote went like this:
Oh, oh, oh, oh, Canadian Boy
You’ve broken my heart by mistake
You went away when you were bringing me joy
If it’s a nightmare I wish I could wake
I was quite proud of it, to be honest, though Cass pointed out (quite kindly) that Paperboy isn’t actually Canadian. But ‘boy from Clontarf who’s gone to Canada’ just looked weird, so Canadian Boy will have to do. We’ve turned it into quite a good song − we played it at practice today and it didn’t sound bad. The thing about being a drummer, though, is that it’s quite hard to write songs on your own. I mean, you can’t work out chords or anything so it’s hard to come up with a tune. Alice and Cass are both getting quite good at coming up with riffs and things on their own, and when we’re all together I suggest different things to each of them, but because I can’t play myself I have to rely on them to do everything.