My father is a lawyer who is disabled by Lyme disease. My mother used to work as a teacher but was laid-off. I have three sisters. Melanie is four years younger than me and Melody is four years older. Melody wants to be a movie critic someday. Claudine, our baby sister, is an adoptee like me.
Erika, one of my two best friends, is a few months younger than me and the only child of Greenwich's billionaire widower. She is super smart but, until recently, never had a boyfriend since the sight of her hulking armed bodyguard scared boys away.
Hillary, my other best friend, hopes to marry Bill Clinton, the former American president who lives nearby. She is also very smart but became a bit flaky after discovering sex. Erika and Hillary try to avoid each other by using me as their go-between though they should get along since they must be the cleverest teenagers in America.
Randy, my boyfriend, is the love of my life. His family is as rich as mine is poor but this doesn't matter to him. He is a math and computer genius (I kid you not!).
Introduction to Book One: Margaret of Greenwich: This book is mostly about me and how I was nearly murdered. But it also tells of Hillary's fixation with former President Clinton who lives nearby; and about the art teacher, Mr. Cylinder, who Laurie was sleeping with.
Some events you may already know from Google News. But not the whole story since no one knows that except me and my husband, which no thirteen-year-old girl is supposed to have. Not even if she lives in one of those tiny Mormon towns along the Utah/Arizona border. And certainly not in Greenwich, Connecticut, the richest town in America where my family is one of the poorest.
We survive on food stamps, the Mormon food bank, and my father's Social Security Disability payments. I get my clothes from the Salvation Army store closest to us, the one across the New York State border in Port Chester. My best clothes are the hand-me-downs from my seventeen-year-old sister. These were bought before my family's bad luck began though I'm not complaining.
That my family wasn't always like this is also part of my story. And the rest, I must admit, will sound unbelievable but is true. Though if you won't believe me I can't imagine who you do trust since my family is fourth generation Mormon and we attend church religiously, to make a small pun.
This is why, in the interest of honesty, I must also state something else. That if you're a boy you probably won't like this book since it has a lot about romance but no actual sex, two murders without a car chase, and very little about the zombie killer video game which Randy, my boyfriend, loves. And I doubt that you'll be interested in the details of my menstrual celebration party which even I didn't want to attend.
Having said all this, like they say, it's time for me to raise the curtain and present the drama in which fate cast me a leading role. How a seventh grader from a dirt poor family battled poverty, her school principal, and a determined murderer in the richest town in America.
Which I'll begin by telling about two boys: Randy, who is the nicest boy imaginable and the love of my life; and Brian, who boys call 'weird wheels,' which isn't nice at all.
Chapter One of Book Six, Margaret and Velda
The events which I describe have unanswered questions. Mostly because I can’t say for sure when the invasion began though I was in the thick of it.
Still, even if you don’t like a story with loose ends you should read this book. Because what happened could have killed you and me, all of us.
We’ll be ready if they try again though they probably won’t for they have learned their lesson: that Americans are tough, and mean and hard-hitting when they get angry, and that attacking them is far too dangerous.
Death and destruction is what they’ll get. Death and Destruction!
Chapter One of Book Nine, Margaret in London
After the bombing, when I closed my eyes, I heard the cries of the wounded and dying and saw the Prince’s tortured face. The foul stench of burnt flesh had permeated the room in this crime against Britain and humanity.
Some of the survivors, though unscratched, were frozen in place by shock and unable to move. Body parts lay everywhere. I couldn’t keep my eyes off a severed arm. It lay palm up on the ground, perfect and relaxed.
I felt nauseous and forced myself to swallow to keep from throwing up. From nowhere in the room could one escape the sight of what had happened.
Tiny victims–a dark-haired baby boy in blue coveralls and a blond-haired girl in pink–lay still, their bodies torn and bloodied. They were later identified by small labels tied to their ankles.
While describing the events to the detective, feelings had overwhelmed me. I felt as if I were recounting a battle that I was in the midst of fighting. My father held me but it was my mother that I needed. A mother’s binding love saves us from the reality of cruelty, I thought, but from the possibility of greatness too.
These harsh memories had dimmed, as they do with the passage of time. Months later, while walking the streets of Greenwich, I suddenly realized that I had returned to where it all began and felt a new sensation: that I had survived and had power and could hope. Everything that was possible before remained possible—except for being the person that I had been. The innocent girl that existed was gone. Will I be her again? Was I ever her? I asked myself.
Chapter One of Book Thirteen, Margaret in Manhattan
Coming home implies a joyous reunion but I didn’t expect mine to last. Not once my parents learned the shocking news.
After distributing gifts, I said what all wanted to hear: my study in Berlin had gone great and I was looking forward to returning to Barnard College in the fall. But that wouldn’t happen. School was already a fading memory, lost in the onrushing inevitable event.
Yet though unplanned pregnancies are common, the question still haunted me: Was my baby’s conception accidental?
Hoping to keep the conversation far from babies, I proclaimed that German bread was wonderful and we should order it online. Melanie, my fifteen-year-old sister, chimed in with her culinary experiences. She had been on a school trip to Germany two months earlier.
Then my older sister, Melody, complimented my “more mature” appearance. Did she mean my bigger breasts? I wondered.
Everything was going OK until it suddenly wasn’t. I pressed my fist to my mouth and ran to the nearest bathroom to vomit.
After that, the cat was nearly out of the bag, if this isn’t too indelicate a phrase to describe being pregnant.
"Probably a touch of the flu," I casually remarked upon returning.
My parents had smiled sympathetically but Melody’s suspicious look told me that our frank talk was unavoidable.
Chapter One of Book Fourteen, Margaret and Venla
A mechanical problem had delayed our Lufthansa flight, causing us to
arrive late for Catherine’s memorial service. I felt guilty but relieved. These events are particularly hard on the young for whom life is believed a given and not a gift.
Having lived in Greenwich all my life, I knew many of the mourners except for the strangers who covertly photographed us. They are probably detectives, hoping to glimpse Catherine’s murderer, I briefly thought. Following long-held
police lore about warped criminals returning to the sight of their handiwork.
But my mother’s reprieve from her cancer misdiagnosis had been too recent for such speculation. Instead, blessed with youthful good health, I would have rather sat along the waterfront than at this service.
Having friends close by made it bearable. I had little contact with Catherine, Hillary’s mother, like that of most teenagers with their friends’
parents. For most of her life, she wasn’t a good mother. Only after Hillary’s risky childbirth had Catherine changed. Erika, my closest friend, once commented that “Some lousy mothers become great grandmothers. They need the emotional distance.” She is my expert on people thanks to her years of therapy.
"Are you going to the service?" she asked me earlier.
“Of course. I expect nearly all Greenwich to be there," I replied.
"Women are terrified. The streets are deserted at night and gun sales have skyrocketed. There have been eight victims."
“Catherine made it seven," I objected.
“Another woman just came forward. She had been too ashamed to report being raped," Erika said.
I looked at Hillary. Tears streamed down her face as she held her young daughter’s hand.