Daily life is pretty dreary for eleven year old Reggie. She's already mastered the art of dumpster diving for scraps of food and being her own parent. Her mother, dangerously close to a full break with sanity, is of little help. Reggie has invented a dream world where she and her best friend, Tough Girl, battle aliens for glory. Life is manageable until new neighbors move in and Reggie's dream world begins to unravel.
Reggie does not have many friends. In fact, Leon may be the only one and he's a bit of a liability. Leon is quiet and nerdy but he is fiercely protective of Reggie and given to bouts of violence. Reggie always feels like she's walking on egg shells around Leon. She's never comfortable in his presence, but also feels like she couldn't do without him.
Below is an excerpt from the novel. This is where we first meet Leon, just after Reggie has been soaked with water balloons - the balloons only hit her on the back of her pants.
She sloshed her way to school, a few kids laughing at her. “Did you piss your pants?” she heard someone call from one of the groups gathered on the school lawn. The question was followed by a chorus of “ewwws” and laughter.
She thought about looking around to see who everyone was talking about, a trick that had served her well in the past, but as wet pants were not common and clearly she wore the only pair, this tactic was not going to work. She kept her face blank, her chin up, as she walked into the school. She pretended not to hear their calls of “Piss Pants” as she passed. She thought to herself, “I can’t piss out of my ass.”
Leon was waiting for her at the door. His small head and giant backpack made him look like a turtle. He was short for a sixth grader and skinnier than Reggie, which was saying something. His hair was blondish beige and his skin was the color of very light coffee. Black framed glasses slightly magnified his blue eyes making them the biggest feature on his face. “I believe you’re dripping,” Leon said as Reggie approached.
“I know that, Leon,” she said walking into the school.
He scuttled after her, heaving his backpack along. “Was it raining?”
“No. It wasn’t raining.”
“How did you get wet only on the backside?”
“I’m very talented.”
“You should dry off.”
He nodded and peeled off heading for the cafeteria.