This fast-paced thriller about a girl who investigates her friend's disappearance during their cruise ship vacation is Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 for teens—and it’s a paperback original!
When Izzy meets Jade on a cruise to Bermuda, her new daredevil friend turns Izzy’s boring family vacation into the trip of a lifetime. Until Jade goes missing.
The investigators claim Jade fell overboard, but Izzy knows better. Her friend had secrets—secrets that might have gotten her killed. As Izzy digs deeper into Jade’s disappearance, she realizes that someone doesn’t want her to find the truth. And if she’s not careful, Izzy might not get off this ship alive.
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An Excerpt fromGirl Overboard
“Listen,” my mom says.
I’ve learned that when she says this word, you should, in fact, do the exact opposite. Listen means a lecture is coming whether you like it or not, and steadfast ignoring is usually the best course of action.
“Your father and I work very hard to be able to afford nice trips like this,” Mom continues. “And the very least you could do is . . .”
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Yes, I know they work hard. My mom’s a lawyer. My dad’s an actuarial accountant (which means people pay him a lot of money to tell them when they’re going to die). And yes, I do appreciate how hard they work. But I’m not the one who wanted to take a stupid cruise to Bermuda in the first place. I would have been happy to stay home and hang out with Luke for spring break, which would have been . . . hm, I don’t know . . . free. Then I wouldn’t be stuck waiting in the arrival lounge, which smells of body odor and perfume, watching my annoying (though admittedly cute) toddler-brother while passengers scavenge the cheese-and-cracker tables like they’ve never seen food before.
“Okay?” my mom asks, sounding irked.
Which means the lecture must be over.
“Okay,” I answer, even though I’m not entirely sure what she just said. But it seems to appease her, because she huffs out a thank-you and then stomps off to the reception desk to join my father, who’s having an intense discussion about his lactose intolerance with the chef.
My brother, Trey, tries to escape the minute she turns her back, as usual, and I snatch him by the shirt that’s stained with ketchup from the plane. Midway through the trip, he somehow found a handful of ketchup pouches. Our seat looked like a crime scene, and the stewardess smiled and said “no worries,” but swore not-that-softly under her breath on her way to get more napkins.
“Go!” Trey complains, straining against my clutch like a puppy on a leash. He doesn’t say that much, but when he does, it’s with spirit. “Go!”
“I know, Trey-Trey,” I say, springing up from my sitting position and knocking over my lacrosse stick, which had been leaning on the wall. I brought it with me on the cruise to practice, but it’ll probably collect dust in the closet like usual. I suck at lacrosse but whatever. It’s better than PE. “I don’t want to be here either.” I tousle his caramel-colored, curly, soft hair, and he gives me a look and puffs out his cheeks. The cheek-puff is a definite precursor to a full-blown meltdown, which we do not want. I glance over at my parents, who are gesticulating madly to a man in an apron. (Though I wouldn’t think lactose intolerance would be that difficult to describe.) Trey’s breathing elevates and his cheeks flush, which means we are approaching throw-yourself-on-the-floor tantrum stage. I bend down, stretching the bruise from where I tripped over Ursula, this Amazon of a ninth grader who swears she was just defending the crease but knocked out my breath nonetheless. “You want a lollipop?” I ask.
His crestfallen expression perks right up, and he gives me an excited nod.
“Is that a yes?” I ask, since the speech therapist told us to push him to use his words. He nods again, probably thinking I must be an idiot. What did you not understand about my nodding? His cheeks start to puff again.
“Right. I guess that’s good enough,” I say, digging through my purse for a cherry-red sucker, which should pair nicely with the ketchup stain. My mom will be all over me for giving him too much sugar, but he’ll be her problem by then.
Trey plops down on the floor and starts noisily sucking, quenching his sugar fix. I join him on the scratchy carpet, a hideous royal purple with yellow pineapples, which carries a soft mildewy scent. As I pull up my legs, my shorts gap against my skinny thigh. I hate how bony-thin I am. My best friend, Miranda, says I have thin privilege and shouldn’t “cater to the male gaze” anyway, so I should just shut up about it already. She’s probably right. But I’m not, like, pretty skinny. I’m toothpick, mosquito-bite-breasts kind of skinny. And she’s kind of chunky but, like, sexy chunky. And even if she doesn’t care about the male gaze, she has awesome breasts with actual cleavage, so maybe she should shut up too.
I examine my bruise, the gross blob of yellow and purple crawling over my thigh like an octopus. Earlier this week, Luke’s fingers were there, swirling above my knee but not daring to go any higher. The memory gives me a weird fluttering in my stomach, and I push on the bruise to make the quivery feeling go away.
Trey cocks his head, and with a sticky finger, pushes on the bruise too.
“Hey,” I say, “don’t.” I swat his hand away when he reaches again, and I can see him considering a tantrum over this injustice but letting it go. He’s got a sucker after all.
When my mom saw the bruise, she frowned, asking where I got it. I told her the truth, but she took a step toward me, her face all earnest and said, “If someone ever hurts you, you can tell me. You know that, right?” Annoyed, I assured her it was seriously the Amazonian Ursula, but she still side-eyed me.
We both knew “someone” meant Luke. For some reason, she hates him. No, the bruise wasn’t from him.
But if she knew what we did before the cruise, she would hate us both.
I stand up to make this thought go away. Again, I check my phone, as I’ve done a hundred times since our flight landed, checking and checking in an endless loop. Luke still hasn’t texted me. I sent him hearts and smiley emojis on the bus ride over, trying to say I love you without saying I love you, or at least without appearing totally desperate. If I’m honest, that’s another reason I don’t want to be stuck on this cruise. We’ve only been going out since February. He said he likes me “a ton,” but we’re still in that early stage of official dating, where things could kind of go either way.
As my parents finally wind their way back to us, I spy a girl leaning against the wall a few feet down, sitting on her backpack. Her pink hoodie is pulled over her head, silky blond hair spilling out like a ruffle. Her parents tower above her, saying something I can’t hear, but the tone is clearly peeved. She looks as bored as I do, with similarly boring, lecturing parents. Finally, she stands up and spits out, “Fine.”
Looking at her, I can see she’s pretty skinny, her jeans tight, her sweater hanging off her body. She probably has a million TikTok followers and a YouTube channel. Out of nowhere, she turns to me, and I’m about to look away when she surprises me by smiling. I smile back. She tilts her head toward her parents, while simultaneously rolling her eyes. I give her a nod of understanding.
“All righty,” my mom says, approaching. She glances at Trey’s sucker and wisely says nothing. “Our rooms are ready.” She and my dad do a fist bump-explosion type thing, which couldn’t possibly be more embarrassing. “Are we psyched?” she prods me.
“Yes,” I say, standing up, “we are psyched.”
“Listen,” she says, again giving me the cue to put in my earbuds. The sound flows in from midsong, where I paused it on the bus ride from the airport. The Weeknd croons into my ears, and I think of last weekend, kissing Luke. After practice, we were leaning against a brick wall, the day cold, smelling of mud. He tried to unsnap my bra, and when I wriggled and said no, he sighed, seeming kind of annoyed.
“Not with all the people here,” I said. Then he smiled, like he approved of the explanation at least. And I shouldn’t need his approval, especially now, after I promised I would take the pictures for him. But his smile still made me shine inside. We kissed some more, and when we were done, my hands were shaking.
I think maybe I’ll let him go a little further next time.
Our cabin is windowless and gloomy.
The designers tried to cheer it up with an LCD porthole window sporting animated ocean waves and bobbing brightly colored fish. But somehow, this embellishment makes it even more depressing.
“Okay,” my mom says, forcing cheer into her voice, while surveying the basement cave we’ll be occupying for the next ten days. The furniture consists of one queen bed and a crib, which partially blocks off the entrance to the minuscule bathroom. It reminds me of the tenement housing tour we took in New York City last year.
“Ha,” my mom says when I voice this observation out loud. “Right. Tenement housing but with running water, room service, theater, and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Very similar.”
I suppose she has a point. Then I notice something else. “Wait. Where am I going to sleep?”
“Oh yeah,” she says, as if just noticing the fact that she owns a daughter. “The cot should be coming any minute.”
“A cot?” I complain.
She raises one eyebrow. “Anyway,” she says as Trey climbs onto the bed and tries unsuccessfully to bounce. “We won’t be spending that much time in the room. We’ll be sitting by the pool and hitting the beach.”
Yanking open the closet nearest me, I thunk my lacrosse stick against the wall, then sit on the floor and glance at my phone again. No text from Luke. Maybe I put too many hearts on the last one.
“Hey, hon,” my dad says from the corner of their bed, his nose buried in the hefty ship’s manual. “They’ve got a macramé class you might like.”
“Cool,” my mom answers. “Sounds like fun.”
Right. Sounds like the worst thing ever. I glance at my phone again.
“Izzy,” my mom says, catching me in the act. “You know you can’t check that on the ship once we get going, right? We’ll get a thousand-dollar phone bill.”
“I know. I know. I know.” Since she’s told me approximately a thousand times. “We still have like an hour before we go.”
“Okay,” she says, her point made. She peeks into Trey’s pants, since he’s newly toilet-trained. Her overgrown bob drapes her face, the mahogany brown stippled with silver threads. “You know, instead of pining over this Luke, why don’t you go have some fun? We’re about to sign Trey up for the Guppies.”
Trey opens his eyes wide. “Guppies!” He slithers off the bed. “Guppies, guppies!” I think we are seeing a lollipop sugar high.
“You should check out the Hang Out,” my mom says. “I saw some kids over there already.”
I roll my eyes.
“Or just sit here and feel sorry for yourself,” she says, her voice swerving straight from faux cheerful to aggravated. “You choose.”
“Hey, hon,” my dad says. “Looks like they have a Rockettes-style show tonight.”
Tucking my phone into my pocket, I stand up from the floor. “Yeah, I think I will check out the ship a little bit.”
Because if I don’t get out of this room, I might just murder them both.
The girl is there.
I figured she’d be too cool to venture into the aspirationally named Hang Out, a place that looks like it’s trying too hard to be glam, with mood lighting; curvy, mod purple couches topped with oversize silver pillows; and black beanbags strewn all around. Of course, the room also features the mandatory foosball table and video game consoles. Two boys have already claimed those, which is fine by me. This is one point on which I actually agree with my mom: video games are an absolute waste of time.
“Hey,” the girl says when I catch her eye.
“Hey,” I answer back, shocked that she’s even talking to me. In school, it’s just me and Miranda--the geeky girl and the gay girl. It’s not like we’re bullied or anything; just awarded benign neglect. In real life, no one who looks like this girl would ever deign to spend any social capital on me. “I saw you earlier,” I say. “With your parents.”
She shakes her head. “Not my parents. My aunt and uncle.”
“Oh,” I say, worried I’ve messed up already. Maybe her parents died or something.
“Anyway,” she says. “I’m Jade.”
“Izzy,” I say. I think about shaking hands, but when she doesn’t reach out, I keep my hand in my pocket. “What grade are you in?” I ask.
“Sophomore,” she says.
“Same,” I say, though I thought she looked a bit older.
As if reading my mind, she says, “I’m sixteen, though. Since I’m stupid and had to repeat first grade.”
“Oh,” I say, back to monosyllables, and give her an awkward nod. “Where are you from?” I ask.
“New Jersey,” she says. “You?”
“Chicago,” I answer. We seem to have run out of topics then. Checking out the room, I spy a cute guy lounging on one of the beanbags. He’s your typical blue-eyed, blond-haired Viking type with ridiculously handsome genes, strong jawline, big shoulders, the whole thing. A football player, maybe. He looks older than seventeen to me (which is the upper limit of the Hang Out age group). Engrossed in a tablet, he hulks over the beanbag.
“Bryce,” Jade says.
“Huh?” I turn back to her.
“The fine-looking boy over there,” she says, tilting her head.
Caught out, I smile. “You’ve met him?”
“Briefly,” she says. “Just to see if he’s worth the time.”
“Uh-huh.” If she’s serious, she is way more advanced at this stuff than I am. My go-to move would be to walk over, remain silent, and hope he sort of likes me. Jade drifts toward the C-shaped pleather couch. When she sits down, I follow.
“You have a boyfriend?” she asks, her knee bopping up and down.
“Really?” She looks surprised, which I get. A loser like you has a boyfriend? Sometimes I don’t believe it myself. “Pics?” she asks.
“Um.” I dig into my pocket for my phone. “Yeah.” I pick out one from our Valentine’s Day dance. The whole thing was kind of stupid, with feedback on the sound system the whole time, and school-made soggy pizza. But it’s also where we first started dating. We began dancing together almost by accident, as our friend groups commingled. He pulled me in to kiss him, and after that we were basically a couple. He smile-smirks in the picture, with his arm draped over my shoulders.
“He’s cute,” she says.
“Thanks,” I answer, though I feel weird accepting the compliment. It’s not like I had any part in his hotness.