The New York Times bestselling debut novel from critically acclaimed author Jodi Lynn Anderson follows three very different girls as they discover the secret to finding the right boy, making the truest of friends, and picking the perfect Georgia peach.
Murphy McGowen has bright green eyes, a reputation as the wildest girl in Bridgewater, and a way of getting out of all the trouble she gets into. But when she's caught stealing from the Darlington Orchard, she's forced to repay her debt picking peaches in the hot Georgia sun.
Leeda Cawley-Smith has professionally whitened teeth and the softest skin her boyfriend has ever touched. Unfortunately, Leeda's parents aren't too keen on her being touched anymore. Now Leeda's country-club summer is out the window—she'll be getting a serious sock tan working at her uncle's peach orchard instead.
Birdie Darlington used to dance around her family's orchard picking peaches for fun. But now that her parents are getting divorced, Birdie would rather spend the summer in the A/C eating Thin Mints than pick another peach—too bad she doesn't have a choice.
Thrown together at Darlington Orchard, Murphy, Leeda, and Birdie discover what it means to find a real soul mate, and that sometimes cute boys know a lot about peach cider. And, of course, they learn the trick to picking a perfect peach. One thing's for sure—it's going to be a juicy summer.
About the Author
Jodi Lynn Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches, Tiger Lily, and the popular May Bird trilogy. She lives in Asheville, N.C., with her husband, her son, and an endless parade of stray pets.
Read an Excerpt
By Jodi Lynn Anderson HarperCollins Copyright © 2006 Jodi Lynn Anderson
All right reserved.
Chapter One Every spring since she had turned thirteen had started the same way for Murphy McGowen. She started feeling restless at the very same time as the crocuses began busting out of their buds every year. She'd start to want to bust out of her skin too, into a skin that lived, say, in New York, or Paris, or Buenos Aires, anyplace that wasn't Bridgewater, Georgia. Outside the historic downtown district - which was basically unlived in and which barely any tourists came to - the town was mostly a strip of motels, fast-food joints, and traffic lights.
From then on, each spring had started with
A. The restlessness
B. The ache in her chest for the thing she didn't know was missing
C. The guy with the hand up her shirt
At fifteen, there was also the addition of the other hand, down the pants - usually cords, sometimes army surplus, all three dollars or less at Village Thrift. The boys she hadn't bargained for; they had just sort of come. Because like many girls in Georgia, Murphy was as girl as a girl could be. Green eyed and smooth skinned with beauty marks here and there on her cheeks, with brown wavy hair and high apple breasts. Like most young girls at the Piggly Wiggly on any given day, she was more juicy than fine, more sexy than delicately beautiful. In a word, Murphy McGowen was yummy. A few more words that had been used to describe her were brilliant, bold, and rotten.
Her favorite spot for C. was the edge of the Darlington Peach Orchard, just two miles out of the center of town, but what felt like a million miles from anything resembling the Piggly Wiggly. Most of Bridgewater felt like a collision of old southern big-porched homes and a giant strip mall. The orchard, with its endless acreage and overgrown greenery, felt like the Garden of Eden.
Murphy, who wasn't much into nature, didn't know why she liked it. In lots of ways it was a mess. The white fence that ran along the property line was chipped and rotting. An old tractor had been abandoned by the train tracks and was grown over with weeds. The farm itself was obscured by layers of overgrowth along this edge so thick that even now, when there were no leaves, Murphy could see only tiny glimpses of the peach trees themselves and the white farmhouse through the brush.
The cold metal of the tracks dug into her butt as she took a sip of warm Mello Yello. She kicked off her sticky old Dr. Scholl's sandals from Village Thrift, letting her bare soles bask in the warmest night they'd had since the fall. Across the grass behind them, Gavin's car was choking out staticky Coldplay, a band Gavin said was brilliant, though Murphy claimed all their songs sounded exactly the same.
Murphy watched lazily as Gavin, whose last name she didn't remember, ran his fingers lightly up and down the back of her calves like they were made of gold. His eyes trailed up and down her legs.
"What do you wanna do?" she asked, pushing her toes into the grass. She mentally urged Gavin to say something original. Impress me, she thought. Already she was wishing she'd come alone. Gavin was oblivious to their surroundings, which was depressing.
The truth was, there was nothing she wanted to do. She wanted to float out of her body, out of Bridgewater, up to the moon. Coming to the orchard always made her restless. Energized with nowhere to put it. Stuffed up.
When her mom had used to take her here on picnics, before the onslaught of boyfriends paraded into their lives, Jodee had said, "It makes me feel young, baby." And maybe that was it. Sneaking onto the orchard grounds made Murphy feel the way she figured a girl her age was supposed to feel - awake. Though Gavin was making a valiant effort at bringing that down a notch.
He squeezed her calf and then moved onto his knees like he was praying to her, putting his hands on her tight coil of a waist. Murphy held her can of soda aside to accept the touch of his lips. He was ridiculously cute, she had to admit. But a lot of guys were. Somewhere along the line that had stopped being exciting. While he moved his mouth to the soft skin on the side of her neck, she watched the moon above them, which was three-quarters full and surrounded by a white haze. It made her think about how she couldn't believe how big the universe was, but how small it was for her. Maybe she'd be sitting in Bridgewater when she was eighty, making out with somebody with just gums.
"I'm bored." It came out matter-of-factly. She extracted herself from him.
Gavin pulled back and frowned at her from under his eyebrows, hurt. "Thanks." He ran a hand through his messy brown hair and then scratched at his stomach through his thin White Stripes T-shirt. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and held one to his lips, lighting it. He looked irritated.
Murphy wasn't surprised. It was typical. Boys came in one flavor. The flavor that couldn't stand it when you didn't let them play with your toys.
"Anyway, your tongue's all slimy," she said, bouncing up onto her feet. "Don't you swallow, ever?" "You're rough, Murph."
"Murphy. I hate it when people try to give me nicknames."
"Right, Murphy. Well, nobody else I've dated has complained."
"We're not dating," she said evenly.
Gavin shook his head at her the way boys sometimes did, like he'd touched a hot plate and had to put it down. "Well, if you're bored, what do you want to do?" His eyes squinted as he took a puff of his cigarette.
Excerpted from Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson Copyright © 2006 by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Excerpted by permission.
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