Authors: Katie Kacvinsky
Â Â Â Books for Young Readers
Â Â Â Still Point
Â Â Â Kacvinsky, Katie
Â Â Â 9780544352964
Â Â Â 09/02/2014
Â Â Â $7.99 / Higher in Canada
Â Â Â 320
Â Â Â 12 and Up
Â Â Â 7 and Up
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Still point / by Katie Kacvinsky.
Sequel to: Middle ground.
Summary: “Maddie returns home to make her final stand against digital school, and uncovers deeply guarded secrets about her family and new truths about herself.”âProvided by publisher
[1. Government, Resistance toâFiction. 2. Science fiction.] I. Title.
Before I left Eden, Elaine warned me to be careful. She said I have a lot of water in my personality and it's a gift, but it's also a challenge to control. You can't tie water down. Water can be difficult to love too, because it moves around anything trying to contain it. It can overflow its banks and lose its sense of home. She told me to use my water to my advantage, but to be aware of what I can destroy. She said not all obstacles are meant to slow me down or block my path. They're simply there to redirect me.
Here's the advantage of being water: It's forgiving and ever-changing and unpredictable and strong-willed. It's stronger than rock; it can wear it down or move it or break it, or slowly seep through the surface. It can flow around anything and through anything or under or on top. It can change into so many forms. It can be so calm it's invisible, so wild it's uncontainable. It can smother fire with one spray.
But here is the weakness: People with water are susceptible to drought. We can run dry, and when we do, we shrink, until something replenishes us. We rely on others. We need love and support. When we're not fed, we become a bit calloused and cracked, like dry skin. We wither, we wrinkle, and we can disappear inside ruts, until we flow again.
People are like their own ecosystems, little planets made up of islands and climates and forecasts. Some of us carry jagged mountain peaks, and some of us carry lakes. It makes me think about other elements, how we all carry something inside of us. I think Justin is made of so much fire, that he is so inspiring and reckless and impressionable and creative. My dad is made mostly of earthâtough, impenetrable, stubborn, and inflexible. My mom and Clare are light like air, always trying to see the best in others, always stirring things when they walk into the room, trying to bring people together and accept every perspective.
Once we know our elements we know our strengths, but that is nothing compared with our weaknesses. Our strengths define us, but our weaknesses limit us. It's a constant tug of war in ourselves.
But you need all of these elements in order to live. You can't cut off the earth and wind in your life, just because their movements conflict with yoursâthat wouldn't sustain anything for very long. They're all necessary. The trick is to figure out a way for all of them to combine. I need earth and air in my life in order to be happy. At least, in order to be whole.
That's why I'm ready to make this decision.
There's only one problem. I didn't get to talk to Justin and explain that I'm not choosing my family over him. I know where I'm headed; I'm just making my own travel plans instead of being handed the directions. I hope he understands.
“Home, sweet digital home,” I said as Scott's car exited the highway when we hit signs for Corvallis. Dark gray clouds gathered in masses above us, competing with patches of blue sky where the sun shot through. I looked up at the sky and felt like my future was as ambiguous as the clouds, constantly changing formation, impossible to nail down. Just when I think I can pinpoint a shape or direction, the wind switches course, always to leave me staring up at the clouds wondering what I see.
“You're the one that wanted to come back here,” Scott reminded me, his tone sharp. “Was the detention center not enough torture for six months?”
I looked out the window and focused on the blue sky, even as fat raindrops hit the windshield. We stopped for a train, the only other movement on the barren street. We had driven for hours with hardly any conversation, and I was tired of trying to avoid the tension that was brewing.
“Scott, let's play a game called brutal honesty. I prefer it to the silent treatment.” I grinned at him, but his jaw was set tight. “You go first,” I nudged.
His hands were tight on the steering wheel as he turned a corner. We passed through a neighborhood so quiet that even the trees looked like they were sleeping, their green leaves as still as a photograph.
“Sorry I'm a little annoyed you're choosing your dad over us,” he said. “We've helped you out for the last six months, and now you're bailing on us. And you didn't tell anyone back in Eden what you're doing. It's like you're running away.”
I chewed on my fingernail and took a long breath. I tried to keep my voice light. “I didn't want people to try and stop me,” I said simply, and the car accelerated. I closed my eyes and embraced that feeling, how the tires collided with the road when we moved, how friction needs to be there to propel anything forward. That's what I was about to becomeâthe friction in my family.
“I get itâyou're going behind enemy lines. Good for you. But you don't need to prove yourself anymore.”
“That's not why I'm doing this,” I said.
“Then why are you, exactly?” he asked, turning onto my street. My shoulders tensed and my knees instinctively moved away from the door, as if the car were my shell and I was slowly receding inside.
I studied Scott's profile, his black glasses sliding down his nose and his black hair gelled into hard spikes on top of his head. “I don't want my family to be the
I can't accept that. I need to figure out what's going on with my dad, and he's not going to tell me through a screen. He wants to play a game, so I'm going to suit up.”
“Your dad is a world-class manipulator. What if he forces you to join his side?”
I looked down at the bird tattooed on the inside of my wrist. “If a detention center couldn't break me, I don't think we have to worry about my dad,” I pointed out, and Scott couldn't argue.
“How do you plan on getting in touch with Justin?”
Good question. I tapped my foot on the floor. “Justin will find me,” I said. “He'll figure it out.”
“Not when it looks like you're turning on us. Did you even talk to him about this?”
“I don't need his permission. He'd support me either way. That's what friends do,” I hinted.
“Not if they think you're making a stupid decision.”
Every once in a while I had a technology relapse, where I missed a function from my digital life. Like putting people on mute, or switching them off, or deleting their existence entirely. You hardly ever got annoyed in that life, because you didn't have to put up with people. You didn't have to learn patience. If someone said something you didn't like, you could delete their existence. People became that inconsequentialâthey were just a funny app or an attractive image you could swap updates with.
You can't do that in the real world. You need to be more patient and forgiving and accepting of people's flaws. You can't be as choosy about your friends. But you also become less selfish, more understanding. Liking people exactly like you isn't very rewarding. It doesn't challenge you. My mom used to tell me you should love the people who are hardest to love. I think she was talking about my dad, but you can expand that to people in general.
I shrugged off his comment because I knew Scott looked at life through a narrow lens. You were with him or you were against him. He didn't understand a middle ground.
He pulled up to the curb and pointed down the street. “My apartment's two miles from here. You can stay with me and Molly if you want. You can meet with your dad in person but still have some distance.”
I thought about Scott's offer. Everyone seemed to want to keep me under their supervision.
I shook my head and clutched the door handle. “I don't want distance,” I said. “Distance is the problem.” I opened the car door and grabbed my duffel bag off the floor. “See you around.”
Scott was already gunning the accelerator before I could swing the door shut. I watched with a frown as his car disappeared. When you agree to help one person, you ultimately have to disappoint someone else; it's like a karmic law. I just had to trust myself. That's where it needed to start. That's why I knew Justin would understand.
I blinked down at the turf grass next to the road, so immaculate it looked like footsteps had never grazed its green peaks. I looked past the crest of plastic blades shining in the sun, wet from the short burst of rain, and my eyes traveled slowly up the four front steps, stopping on the black front door of my parents' house. Doors are supposed to be welcoming. The silver sloping handle shined like it had been polished, twinkling in the sun. But there wasn't much welcoming about it. It felt like a target I needed to try to hit, and my aim was always off.