Authors: Jenny B. Jones
Tags: #drama, #foster care, #friendship, #YA, #Christian fiction, #Texas, #theater
A Katie Parker Production (Act I)
Jenny B. Jones
Can we overcome our past?
Katie Parker is about to get a new life—whether she wants one or not. With her mom in prison, and her father AWOL, Katie is sent to live with a squeaky-clean family who could have their own sitcom. She launches a full-scale plan to get sent back to the girls’ home when she finds herself in over her head . . . and heart. When Katie and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble at school, she finds her punishment is restoring a historic theater with a crazy grandma who goes by the name of Mad Maxine.
In the midst of her punishment, Katie uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Katie must decide if she’ll continue her own family’s messed up legacy or embrace a new beginning in this place called In Between.
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Books in a Katie Parker Production Series
Copyright © 2007 by Jenny B. Jones
Originally published by NavPress, 2007.
Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or publisher.
Unless otherwise identified, all Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the
New American Standard Bible
), © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995.
In Between: a Katie Parker Production (Act I)/Jenny B. Jones.
Summary: Soon after moving to a small Texas town, sixteen-year old Katie Parker’s rebelliousness complicates her life at home and school, but when she is accused of vandalism, she finds hope through a new friendship, the theater, and her foster family’s faith.
[1. Foster home care—fiction 2. Theater—fiction 3. High schools—fiction 4. Schools—fiction 5. Texas—fiction]
To my mother.
And this still is not enough to thank you for your love and sacrifice.
I hope when you see a cover with my name on it you think to yourself, “
That girl wouldn’t be anywhere without me!”
Because I sure wouldn’t.
’m what you
call an orphan, I guess.
Officially, I’m a ward of the state of Texas. Knowing that your greatest achievement to date is becoming a dependent of an entire state can totally blow a girl’s confidence.
Life can change so fast. One minute I’m living the single-wide-trailer dream with my mom and a few stray cats, and the next I’m sleeping in a room with eight other girls at the Sunny Haven Home for Girls. And just as soon as I get my sock drawer organized and figure out which girls at Sunny will do me the least amount of bodily harm, I find myself shipped out again. It was just last week Mrs. Iola Smartly, the director, laid the news on me. I would be leaving.
And how did I feel about that? Scared, confused, worried. Oh, and don’t forget nauseous. I mean, I have been a resident of Sunny for six months, and then Mrs. Smartly tells me I’m getting new parents. Foster parents.
Fast forward one week, one nail-biting week, and here I am, with Mrs. Smartly at the wheel, riding in the finest on-four-wheels the Texas Department of Child Services has to offer (translation: one nasty minivan), zipping down the highway, bound for some hole in the earth called In Between.
“You’re going to love In Between, Katie.” Mrs. Smartly adjusts the volume on the radio so I can hear her.
I turn my head and look out the window. “Great. I’m going to live in a town inhabited by citizens not even smart enough to pick a decent name for their city. Why couldn’t I be going to Dallas?”
—now those people know what they’re doing.
“You’re going to live with some wonderful people.”
“I guess it gets me out of the state home.”
She gives my knee a playful shake. “Now, Sunny Haven is a fine establishment. It wasn’t that bad.”
My jaw drops. “Are we talking about the same place? The very name is sheer irony.
Haven?” I laugh. “Puh-lease. There is not a single sunny thing about that place.”
Mrs. Smartly dismisses me with a snort, which ticks me off even more.
“And what particular aspect of the home do you find so endearing, Mrs. Smartly? Could it be the dingy gray walls? And I mean ick gray. That’s not a color Lowes is carrying these days. Or maybe you’re all about the lights that run up and down the halls? You know, the ones that hum and whine at decibel levels bound to disturb the local dog population.”
“Tell me how you really feel.” Mrs. Smartly turns on the windshield wipers to swipe some bug guts away.
Well, since you asked . . . “The floors are always cold. My tootsies are too sensitive for that. And in line with the whole prison décor theme, the floors are a color that tends to remind me of vomit.”
She pulls out her directions for a quick check. “Go on. Don’t hold back now.”
“Okay, Sunny Haven a
for girls? What
That place is an insult to the word
Many of us girls at Sunny may not have had a real accurate sense of what home should be, but if Sunny Haven is it, please find me a pack of wolves or some killer bees to reside with instead.
“You had a roof over your head, you were fed, and most important, you were safe.” She slaps my feet off the scarred dashboard.
“Safe? Are you kidding me?”
Mrs. Smartly takes her eyes off the road for a brief moment and looks my way. “You appear fine to me. When, Ms. Parker, did you think your well-being was in question?”
“Okay, I offer up exhibit A: Trina.” Enough said.
Trina, one of my roommates, would just as soon slit you with the knife she hides under her King James Bible as she would befriend you. Mrs. Smartly knows this.
See, Sunny Haven houses twelve- to seventeen-year-old girls, like Ms. Prison-Bound Trina or just plain ol’ strays like me, who have been taken out of their parents’ custody for one reason or another.
I like to say my mom and dad ran off and joined the circus, and due to the fact that I’m allergic to spandex and heavy stage make-up, I could not join their trapeze act. Sometimes I add that I’m just hanging out at Sunny until I can perfect my fire-eating routine.
“Even though we may not be up to your Pottery Barn standards, Katie, I think we provide a pretty good home for girls who don’t have one of their own.”
I bristle at this. My mother happens to be in prison right now. The only bright side about that is she is probably getting better food than I’ve been. My mother was one of those high-rolling entrepreneurs. She was doing so well, and it just all caved in on her. One of those dot-com businesses, you might inquire? Corporate takeover, perhaps? You know, those are all really great suggestions, but the fact is Mrs. Bobbie Ann Parker (a.k.a. my mom) found not everyone liked her products or appreciated her business skills.
And when I say everyone, I mean the police. And when I say products, I mean drugs.
If my mom had pushed Mary Kay cosmetics with as much zeal as she had the narcotics, I’d be living the pink Cadillac life and never have darkened the doors of Sunny Haven Home for Girls. And I sure wouldn’t be on the way to Nowhere, Texas to live with two complete strangers.
I rest my head on the window, getting sleepier by the minute. I was a little worked up last night and didn’t exactly get all my beauty rest. I could’ve counted sheep, but even they don’t dare visit Sunny.
“This is some pretty country, isn’t it, Katie?”
Pieces of Texas pass us by. Restaurants, shops, houses. I don’t know any of them. I guess I don’t get out much.
After my dad left, I wrote a letter to one Miss Reese Witherspoon, asking her to come get me and let me live with her in Hollywood. While she did mail me a nice eight-by-ten glossy, she never sent a stretch limo to my house to pick me up. I really think we would’ve gotten along quite well. It’s not like I carry knives in
King James Bible.
I clear my throat and decide to broach the topic of my new guardians. “So . . . Mrs. Smartly. James and Millie Scott, huh?” (That’s who read my file and said, “We’ll take her.”)
It’s like I want to know about these people, but I don’t want Mrs. Smartly to think I’m too interested. Or scared. The thing with foster care is you have way too much uncertainty. I knew where I stood at the girls’ home. I knew who to be nice to, who to totally avoid, and what the lumps in the dining hall mashed potatoes really consisted of. But foster care? Ugh. I don’t know.
“Are you worried?”
“No,” I mutter in my best
“Okay, then.” She returns her attention to the road and bobs her head to the beat of the radio, completely dismissing me.
Well, how rude. She could tell me a bit more about the Scotts. You know, just for the sake of small talk to pass the time.
Mrs. Smartly shoves her big, totally unfashionable sunglasses down and stares at me for a few seconds. “You sure? No fears at all?”
I shake my head and raise my chin. “Not even a little.”