PW #207: Middle Grade Contemporary: FAUX REAL

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor’s Name: Niki Lenz

Mentee’s Name: Shelly Steig


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 43,000


It’s bad enough that 12-year-old Tru Diaz’s parents moonlight as celebrity impersonators, but things go downhill fast when her crush shows up at her family’s struggling Vegas pawn shop. Tru’s attempt to impress him with Elvis’s mortuary toe-tag backfires when someone swipes it off the counter. To keep her family from bankruptcy, Tru must track down the big-ticket pawn—even if it means crashing casinos and facing her fear of Elvi (in the plural). It’s Oceans 11 at ElvisCon.


It’d taken nearly the entire school year, but I’d finally bumped my way up to the cafeteria table, next to the table, next to the popular one. I patted stray hairs back into my ponytail and smiled. Nothing could ruin my moment. Not a rubbery taco shell filled with mystery meat. Not even my best friend Owen Knight sitting mouth open, half his sandwich hanging out. It plopped on his tray. Owen said, “Whoa, Tru, your parents . . . ”
“Hm?” I asked.
Owen continued in a squeaky voice, “Those aren’t really your mom’s—”
“My mom’s what?” I turned around.
This was like the set-up for Dad’s favorite joke: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and mini-Elvis walk into a crowded middle school cafeteria.
But there was nothing funny about it.
Mom, Dad, and my four-year-old brother, Robbie, sashayed into the jam-packed room. Mom wore a pink satin strapless gown, platinum-blonde wig, stick-on mole and bright red lipstick. She looked like Marilyn Monroe, a mega-star who’d been dead nearly five times longer than I’d been alive. Marilyn was an old-school Lady Gaga—minus the voice since she sounded more like a three-year-old with the wind knocked out of her.
Dad had on his bling-covered white jumpsuit with peacock feathers running down the legs. His chest toupee fluffed out from a deep V.

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