*If you like The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, and novels by Sarah Dessen, then you’ll love Over My Head, with its summertime vibe and realistic, heartfelt conflicts.
An excerpt from
Over My Head
The phone rings. “Got it!” I shout, and pick up.
“Hello?” my dad says.
“Is Sang there?” Cameron says.
“I got it, Dad,” I say.
“Who is calling please?” Dad says.
“Dad, I’m here. I got it.”
“Who is calling?” he persists.
“This is Cameron.”
“The lifeguard who kissed my daughter?”
I hang up, race down the steps, and find Dad on the phone in the kitchen.
“Well, sir,” Dad is saying, “how is it that you’re kissing my daughter, yet I’ve never met you? A gentleman meets the father first. Or aren’t you a gentleman?”
I tug on the sleeve of my dad’s T-shirt. “Dad. Please stop. You’re embarrassing me.”
He holds up his hand to me. “Tonight? You and Sang are going out tonight.” He gives me a cold look. “How very interesting.”
“Sure, I’ll be here. Absolutely. Hold on.” He hands me the phone. “It’s for you.”
I stare sharp daggers at him. “Cameron? I’m so sorry about that.”
“No. It’s cool. Guess I’m not picking you up at the neighbor’s house tonight?”
“Um.” My mind is racing. I try to picture how it will go. Cameron will pull up in his Mustang. Strike one. He’ll meet my dad, who will see he is older than me. Strike two. Dad will ask Cameron absolutely mortifying questions, and Cameron will know then and there that I am not worth the hassle. Strike three, and you’re never going out! “You can come to my house, I guess.” Why can’t I think of another way? There has to be one. “Or we could just forget it.” Yes! Better to skip this horrible experience altogether.
“Nah. It’s cool. Dads don’t scare me.”
I glance at Dad, who is waiting for me by the door of the kitchen. “Lucky you.”
“I suppose I should thank you for saving my daughter’s life,” Dad says.
“My pleasure,” Cameron says.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dad asks.
“Dad,” I say.
“Cookie?” Mom says, handing a plate of store-bought chocolate chip cookies to Cameron. He takes a cookie, and a crumb falls to the ground. I see my mom staring at the crumb, and know she is fighting the urge to pick it up.
Poor Cameron. I can tell he’s gone through some effort to look extra neat. His hair is still damp from a shower, and even from my seat across from the couch I can smell his spicy cologne. He must really like me. Why else sit sandwiched between two staring parents if he doesn’t like me? But will any of this matter if my dad doesn’t like him?
I remind myself about what Raina said. If things get really negative, I should do what she always does with her parents: nod, smile and pretend to agree with everything they say. Don’t make my parents angry. Act like I’m the all-dutiful daughter. Then I can sneak off and do what I want.
“So,” Dad says, looking Cameron up and down, “what year are you in school?”
I seriously think I’m going to scream. I grab a cookie from the plate and fill my mouth.
“I’m a junior, Mr. Jumnal.”
I finish the cookie and grab another.
“Hmm. A bit young, especially to be driving. Such a flashy car, too. Do you go very fast in it?”
“Oh, yeah.” Cameron’s eye’s light up. “She’s really sweet. I’ve taken her up to– ”
“Hu-hum!” I clear my throat and shake my head.
“I mean,” he says, “I’m a very careful driver. Never gotten in an accident or gotten a ticket.”
I take one more cookie and munch.
“Doesn’t that sound responsible, Akash?” Mom says.
I love you, Mom!
“Hmm. What about your future and college?”
“Dad,” I say, “not everybody has their whole lives planned out. I don’t see what this has to do with anything.”
“No, it’s cool,” Cameron says. “I go to the University of Maryland—undecided major.”
“You mean, you plan to go there,” Dad says.
Oh God. Here it comes. Another cookie goes in my mouth.
“No, sir. I’m a junior there now.”
“WHAT? I thought you said you were a junior in high school.”
“Cookie?” Mom says, offering Cameron the now-empty plate with a shaking hand.
I wipe crumbs from my chin. It’s like watching an accident in progress. I can’t bear to look, yet I can’t turn away.
“So that makes you how old?” Dad asks.
“I’m twenty, Mr. Jumnal.”
“TWENTY!” Dad springs to his feet.
We all stand.
“Dad. Chill out. It’s no big deal.”
Mom is fanning herself with a napkin, muttering, “Twenty. Twenty?”
“He’s just turned twenty,” I offer.
“Oh.” Mom blots her forehead. “Still, Sang never mentioned…”
“You never asked,” I say.
“Twenty and in college.” Mom stares at the empty plate. “My.”
“My, indeed,” Dad says, crossing his arms.
I catch Mom’s eye and give her a pleading look.
“Still, Akash,” she says, setting the plate down, “he does seem like a lovely boy.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Jumnal,” Cameron says sweetly.
Dad takes a few deep breaths.
I hold mine.
“Well,” Dad says at last, “I appreciate you coming.” He holds out his hand to Cameron.
I exhale as they shake. Cameron’s approved! “I’ll just get my purse, then.”
“No. You’re not going with this young man.”
“Dad, you can’t be serious.”
“He is too old for you, Sang. You’re only sixteen. There are laws about such things.”
“I’ll be seventeen in like a month.”
“Sang,” Mom says, “be reasonable.”
Dad nods. “You’re too young.”
“Stop saying that. I’m NOT too young. You don’t know anything.”
“I know you are going straight to your room right now.”
Cameron gives me a pained expression.
I can’t bear this. I can’t.
I sprint to my room and stand there, fists clenched. I force myself not to scream—not to kick my wall or smash my mirror.
Downstairs, I hear the front door close. Outside I hear Cameron’s engine rev. He’s probably driving straight to Trish’s where there are no parents and no 16-year-old children to deal with.
I think about this for a moment. And grab my purse.