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PW #220: Middle Grade Contemporary: HOLD ME UP

Thursday, 3 November 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Melyssa Mercado
Mentee Name: Dana Kramaroff
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 48,000


Eleven-year-old Nat’s got aching knees she’d like to trade in—and a busted friendship she only wishes physical therapy could cure. When Nat’s paired with the girl who started the whole BFF mess for a one-take video project, she’s got to find a way to heal her bones and her broken friendship problems.


A lot can happen in one kickball game. You can be chosen as captain, get to pick your best friend first, be forced to pick her ex-best friend last, and…have your wrecked knees be the reason your team loses.

I didn’t mean for it to go so horribly wrong. Really. But when your knees have hurt all summer long and you face-plant before you reach home plate to make the scoring run—destroying your cute back-to-school outfit…well if that’s not the worstest way to kick off sixth grade, I don’t know what is.

I concentrate hard on brushing the dirt off my yellow shorts. If I just rub at this spot without looking up, maybe everyone will just keep their lips zipped.

But Margo makes a beeline my way, her big, mean mouth already wide open.

“That was not pretty, Natalie,” she says as I plop down on the bench, wiggling my hip so Becca moves down.

Mind your own business, Margo.

Becca scoots, patting my back. My head falls on her shoulder, harder than I mean.

My best friend’s body jolts.

I lurch forward, almost falling off.

“Owww, Nat.” Becca’s annoyed with me and my hard head.

“Sorry,” I say.

Her expression softens. “What happened?” she whispers.

“Stupid knees, again.” My voice comes out all growly.

Saying it out loud reminds me of how they’re throbbing…like my heartbeat’s pulsing inside of them.

And with each beat, my brain says: Some. Thing. Is. Wrong. With. You.


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