In Some Other World, Maybe
Gotham teacher Shari Goldhagen recently saw the release of her novel In Some Other World, Maybe
. We follow three separate groups of kids in different parts of the country in what Library Journal
calls “a pitch-perfect narrative…From New York to Macau, these braided histories are imparted via witty, engaging prose peppered with almost unbearable poignancy..”
Here’s a glimpse of one of those kids:
Adam Zoellner has 266 days left.
The first day of kindergarten at Coral Cove Elementary, Adam shoved Sean Dooley into a wall of cubbies when Sean called him a bastard. He wasn’t entirely clear of the word’s meaning; he just knew his grandfather sometimes used it when arguing with his mother after everyone thought he was asleep, knew it was somehow a slam on his mom. Sean pushed back, and Adam’s nose smashed into oatmeal-colored concrete—blood droplets splashing on linoleum flooring. Adam was biting Sean’s forearm when Mrs. Krass rushed from the art easels to intervene. The school didn’t have a full- time nurse, so a teacher’s aide walked Adam, nose pinched with a brown paper towel, to the assistant principal’s office.
The bleeding had long stopped, but at the assistant principal’s insistence, Adam was still sitting with his head back when his mother charged in a half hour later. Wearing a monogrammed butcher’s apron from her parents’ ice cream shop, she was twenty-five and ludicrously beautiful. Anger coloring the apples of her cheeks, she scooped Adam into her arms.
“Ms. Zoellner.” The assistant principal stood, and even at five, Adam recognized the hint of desire in the man’s voice, a different tone entirely than the one he’d had when lecturing Adam about using words to resolve conflicts.
“And for your information,” his mother said, as if it were the next logical beat in conversation, “you lean forward for a nosebleed; otherwise, you can choke on blood.”
She whisked Adam out before Mr. Clark could even apologize. Adam didn’t realize how upset she was until his mother was fastening him into the passenger seat of his grandparents’ station wagon, her light fingers examining his face. More than the silent tears dampening her face, it was the panic in her eyes that pulverized everything inside of him—the first time he understood the awesome responsibility of being someone’s whole world.
“I’m okay, Mommy,” he lied, pushing a smile. “It doesn’t hurt.”
His mother calmed, called him her “good boy.” Her terror abated, and her eyes reverted to their normal sad gray as she asked what happened, and he made up a story about fighting with Sean Dooley over the good crayons.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
That was the moment Adam realized he was good at pretending, at convincing people he felt things he didn’t—the moment he decided he wanted to be an actor.
It was also the start of his internal countdown. The years, months, and weeks until he could leave their drowsy little Florida town forty-five minutes east of the beach and an hour southwest of Disney World.
The next day at school, Adam played nicely with the girls in the house keeping area, avoided Sean altogether, and paid rapt attention to the alphabet exercises, even though his mother had already taught him to read. He did everything in his power to guarantee she never came racing into the assistant principal’s office again.
Thirteen years, he kept it up. Every aced test, drama club performance, and fly ball caught in left field became one more rung on the ladder out of Coral Cove and the pressure of meaning too much to someone.
He has 266 days left.
Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Press.
To learn more about Shari and her book, visit her website