“A book about a time-traveling app? I’m in! Jen Calonita strikes again with a coming-of-age middle grade full of wit and a little bit of magic. “ —Sarah Mlynowski, New York Times bestselling author of the Whatever After and Upside Down Magic series
"A brilliant friendship story that champions kindness, resilience and the courage to challenge long held expectations - both of others and of yourself." --Lauren Myracle, co-author of the New York Times best-selling Upside-Down Magic series
You can retake your photos...but what if could redo moments in your life too? With one magical app, Zoe is able to do just that! A smart and funny twist on time travel from New York Times bestselling author Jen Calonita, for fans for Disney's Zapped and The Swap.
Zoe knows that the only thing harder than middle school is losing a best friend. She and Laura used to do everything together from taking silly selfies, to joining all the same clubs together and even throwing surprise birthday parties for one another.
But lately things have been weird between them. Now Laura will post a photo of her hanging out with other girls before responding to Zoe's simple text. She doesn't even want to sit with her at lunch anymore. Zoe is heartbroken--all she wants is for things to go back to normal.
But then a magical app downloads on her phone...and things get even weirder! Suddenly Zoe can travel back in time to moments where her and Laura started drifting apart. It is like a dream come true. A chance for Zoe to mend their friendship.
But as Zoe goes back to moments of middle school drama--sleepover games gone wrong, field trips with cliques and crushes, and school projects that bring on more-than-awkward encounters--she realizes that second chances don't always go as planned and that sometimes you need to trust the magic of new beginnings.
The Retake is a picture-perfect look at tween friendship, that also explores more serious themes of social media pressure, bullying and what it means to be yourself.
"Jen Calonita puts a magical spin on all-to-real middle school drama. Warm, witty and wise, The Retakeis for anyone who has broken up with a best friend and wished they could go back to the way it used to be."—Megan McCaferty, author of True to Your Selfie and Jessica Darling’s It List series
"As addictive as your favorite app, you won't be able to put it down." - Stacy McAnulty, the author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
An Excerpt fromThe Retake
Me: C U @ 5!!!!
I held my cell phone high in the air to get the optimal angle and snapped a photo of me sticking my tongue out. Then I sent it to my best friend, Laura, pleased that the picture was cropped so tight I wouldn’t give away my surprise.
Goofy selfies were kind of our thing.
So were creating weird popcorn flavors (jalapeño was a current favorite), putting glitter on everything we owned (including sneaker soles), competing on game nights (I dare anyone to stack a Jenga tower higher than me!), sleeping in my tree house (which we also glittered, but I’m hoping my dad doesn’t find out about that renovation), and creating one-of-a-kind birthday surprises for each other (which I was doing right now!). The point is, when you’re best friends with someone for six years, you have lots of things.
I waited for Laura to send me a selfie back like she always did. Text bubbles appeared in our text message chain, then disappeared. Hmm. . . . Maybe she was busy. I certainly was. Planning the best surprise party ever was hard.
“Okay, I’ve got the sign up.” My older sister, Taryn, was balanced atop a chair barefoot, trying to hang a paper birthday banner for me, but something about it was off.
“You hung it crooked,” I pointed out. “The left side is lower than the right.”
“No, it’s not.” Taryn leaned back to admire her handiwork.
“It is!” I took a step back to be sure. The left side was definitely too low. “We need to fix it or the sign will look crooked in all our pictures.”
“Zooooeee.” Taryn deep-sighed.
Whenever my sister exaggerated my name, I knew she’d had enough of me.
Right then, she’d had enough of me.
“Take your pictures on an angle, then.” Taryn jumped down from the chair and shot me a withering look as she adjusted the waistband on her favorite jeans. It was the pair that had just the right number of rips in the legs and that she’d never let me borrow. “I’m not rehanging it. It looks fine.”
Tonight couldn’t be fine. Tonight needed to be epic. Unforgettable. The best celebration in history. You only turned twelve once, and I was determined to make sure Laura never forgot her birthday. Her party banner couldn’t be crooked.
But I couldn’t tell Taryn that. She rarely hung out with me anymore, and the two of us never talked. She was always out with her friends or on her phone and couldn’t be interrupted. The only time I heard from her was when she butted in with a sarcastic comment from two rooms away on whatever conversation I was having. (Only you would think that, Zoe.)
I kicked off my flip-flops and climbed onto a bench. “I’ll do it myself.”
Taryn grabbed her phone off the table. “Knock yourself out, shorty.”
I climbed up and stood on my tippy-toes, praying I wouldn’t fall. The bench was slightly slippery from the bleach scrubdown we’d given it earlier. I always associated the smell of bleach with the cabanas at Nickerson Beach. My family had shared a bungalow with Laura’s family for the past five summers. It wasn’t as fancy as it sounded. It was about as big as a shed, the showers were cold, and the one electrical outlet was used to power the minifridge and the toaster, leaving nowhere to charge your cell phone. But I still loved the place. Growing up fifteen minutes from the ocean was one of the perks of living on Long Island. In the summer months Laura and I spent every waking moment at the bungalow together.
But that summer my parents decided we needed some “quality family time.” For three weeks they took Taryn and me to every Civil War–battle spot in the South while we lived off the fast-food chains along I-95. Meanwhile, Laura had been here, without me.
Sure, we were still renting the bungalow with Laura’s family, but keeping best friends apart for three weeks was just wrong. Once we left, I kept up the texts and calls, but Laura was too busy most days to FaceTime or text me back. And I knew she was legitimately busy. She’d tried out for the community production of Annie and scored the part of Molly. Every day while my family and I were on the road, I watched her Snapchats and Insta stories, and it looked like she’d had fun going to pool parties and sleepovers. Sometimes her life looked so amazing, I had to wonder if she was putting on a show for her followers (she had triple the amount I did), but I never brought it up.
Now that I was back, I was determined for us to have real fun, even if it was the first week of August and it felt like summer was basically over. The pool had a weird film on top of it, people started wearing sweatshirts at the beach, and by eight p.m. it was already dark. It was depressing, but I promised to give August a shot. Laura and I still had four weeks, three days, seven hours, and forty-two minutes to make magic happen before seventh grade started. I had so much on my mind and so many questions I’d been storing up to ask her.
Maybe Laura would know what kind of haircut looked good on someone with a round face. I once tried shaggy bangs, like Taylor Swift had at one time, but I didn’t wind up looking anything like Taylor. (Maybe part of the problem is that I have thick dark brown hair, not blond.) So I wasn’t doing that again.
I also wasn’t going to attempt to pick out a first-day-of-school outfit on my own. What did you wear for the first day of seventh grade that looked good, but not like you were trying too hard? True, it was technically the second year of middle school, but sixth grade felt like a dress rehearsal because we only switched classes twice a day. Seventh grade was going to be the real deal, and I was panicked about everything! Like gym. Did people change for gym? Where did you change for gym? Did you have to change for gym? Last year we didn’t have to. We weren’t even allowed to try out for middle school sports. In seventh grade we could try out for any team we wanted and had gym three times a week, which made me wonder if we got lockers to keep deodorant in. I didn’t want to smell if I had gym first period.
Speaking of lockers, did people decorate them? In sixth grade everyone decorated their lockers, but I wasn’t sure if that was the same for seventh grade. Mom showed me a Pinterest board about lockers, with pictures of ones with wallpaper, mirrors, frames, and even a chandelier! It looked cool, but I couldn’t decide if this was a mom-cool thing or a seventh-grade-cool thing. Plus, if my locker had all this extra stuff inside, where did I put my books and coat?
And finally, now that we were switching classes every period, and leaving the sixth-grade wing, I felt like I needed a map of Fairview Middle School to navigate the place. Were there any shortcuts around school? What happened if I had first period on the first floor near the gym but second period on the opposite side of school on the second floor? Would I make it there in three minutes without having to barrel people down to get through the crowded halls?
These were some of the fears I hoped Laura and I could figure out together.
But first, we’d have birthday cake.
I tightened the string holding up the left side of the banner, then leaned back to check if it was straight. “Now it’s perfect.” I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture of it. I’d post it after the surprise, along with all the other sure-to-be awesome photos we would take. I just needed to come up with the right hashtag.
Taryn shook her head. “You’re so ridiculous. Mom? I’m meeting Avery at the snack shack. Can I have five dollars for pizza?”
“Pizza? We’re ordering pizza!” Mom yelled from somewhere inside the cabana. “Your dad is picking up pies on his way down at around six. Can’t you wait to eat?”