Every Soul a Star Read online

  Copyright © 2008 by Wendy Mass

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  Little, Brown and Company

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  Visit our Web site at www.lb-kids.com

  First eBook Edition: October 2008

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  ISBN: 978-0-316-04088-4



  ALLY 1

  BREE 1

  JACK 1

  ALLY 2

  BREE 2

  JACK 2

  ALLY 3

  BREE 3

  JACK 3

  ALLY 4

  BREE 4

  JACK 4

  ALLY 5

  BREE 5

  JACK 5

  ALLY 6

  BREE 6

  JACK 6

  ALLY 7

  BREE 7

  JACK 7

  ALLY: Epilogue

  BREE: Epilogue

  JACK: Epilogue

  Author’s Note & Further Reading

  Also by Wendy Mass:

  A Mango-Shaped Space

  Leap Day

  Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

  Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall

  For Steve, Kathy, and Judi Brawer, with love

  “In our world,” said Eustace,

  “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

  “Even in your world, my son,

  that is not what a star is,

  but only what it is made of.”

  —from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

  “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive

  away if your car could go straight upwards.”

  —Fred Hoyle, British astronomer

  And when he [the author of the universe] had compounded the whole, he divided it up into as many souls as there are stars, and allotted each soul to a star. And mounting them on their stars, as if on chariots, he showed them the nature of the universe and told them the laws of their destiny.

  —from “Timaeus” by Plato (427–347 BCE)


  from the ancient Greek word ekleipsis,

  meaning abandonment or omission



  In Iceland, fairies live inside of rocks. Seriously. They have houses in there and schools and amusement parks and everything.

  Besides me, not many people outside of Iceland know this. But you just have to read the right books and it’s all there. When you’re homeschooled, you have a lot of books. I also know how to find every constellation in the sky, and that the brightest star in any constellation is called the Alpha. I know all the constellations because my father taught them to me, and I know about the Alpha because it is also my name. But my family and friends call me Ally.

  Okay, that’s not entirely true. I don’t really have any friends. Not within hundreds of miles, anyway. And it’s not because I am unlikable or smell bad or anything like that. In fact, I take a bath every single day in the hot spring outside our house, and everyone knows that the minerals in hot springs make you smell like fresh air all day long.

  The fact that we live somewhere with a hot spring outside our house pretty much explains why I don’t have friends nearby. Basically, my house is as close to the middle of nowhere as a person can get and still be somewhere. Our town is not even on the map. It’s not even a town. It’s more of an area. There’s the Moon Shadow Campground that my family owns, where I know every tree and every rock and which foxes are friendly and which aren’t, and a tiny general store a mile away, where most everything expired in the last millennium. That’s it. The nearest real town is an hour away. Sure, maybe it gets lonely every now and then, but I love it here. I was only four when we moved, so I don’t really remember life in civilization, which is what my ten-year-old brother, Kenny, calls anywhere other than here.

  It should be pointed out that Kenny’s only knowledge of civilization besides our books is based on what he can glean from the ancient black-and-white television at the general store, and since the only show that comes in is the soap opera Days of Our Lives, he thinks civilization is very dramatic. And until a few years ago, he thought it was in black-and-white.

  Some people might think my parents are crazy for doing what they did—up and leaving their jobs to build a campground in the Middle of Nowhere, USA. But they had a plan. They knew that a decade later, hundreds, maybe thousands of people would travel to this exact spot to be a part of something that hasn’t happened in mainland America for over seventy-five years and won’t happen again for a hundred more. And this flock, this throng of people, would need a comfortable, safe place to stay, wouldn’t they? With hot springs and hot coffee and clean bathrooms and their choice of tents or cabins, and no televisions to remind them of anywhere other than here.

  My parents knew that, for one day, our two-square-mile campground would be the only patch of land in the entire country to lie smack dab in the path of the Great Eclipse when it passes overhead. In precisely twenty-two days and some hours from now, the sun will get erased from the sky, the planets will come out to greet us, the birds will stop singing, and a glowing halo of light will flutter like angels’ wings above our heads.

  Except, of course, if it rains.



  I was switched at birth.

  There’s no other explanation for how I wound up in this family. My physicist parents are certified geniuses with, like, a zillion IQ between them and all these grants to study things like dark matter and antimatter, which are apparently very different things. My eleven-year-old sister Melanie gets straight A’s, does cartwheels in public, and actually enjoys watching science documentaries on PBS with my parents. I prefer MTV to PBS, and to me, dark matter and antimatter really means don’t matter. But as smart as they are, my family members are all rather plain-looking. Not ugly or anything even close, but just sort of plain. Average. Like soft-serve vanilla ice cream in a cup, not even a cone.

  I am not plain or average or—god forbid—vanilla. I am peanut butter rocky road with multicolored sprinkles, hot fudge, and a cherry on top. Not that I would ever EAT such a thing, because it would go right to my thighs.

  I don’t mean to sound stuck-up, but I happen to be very attractive. My whole life strangers have stopped my mom on the street to say what a beautiful daughter she has. And they aren’t talking about Melanie. Granted, you can’t help the looks you’re born with. I can’t help that I’m the tallest girl in my grade, or that I never get pimples, or that my eyes are as blue as Cameron Diaz’s. But I make sure to do everything I can to stay beautiful. Every morning I brush my dark brown hair a hundred times until it shines like silk, and if any nails are chipped I fix them with the manicure kit I bought last year at Things of Beauty in the mall. Every night before bed I do fifty sit-ups. I drink bottled water because you only look good on the outside if you’re healthy on the inside. My friends and I keep up with all the latest trends, and we share clothes and even shoes sometimes. I worked extremely hard to become one of the most popular girls in my grade, and I work hard at staying there.

  Today is the last day of school, and I can’t wait for summer. Even though I’m only thirteen and a half, I’m going to be working at Let’s Make Up in the mall. I’m only allowed to work two hours a day until I’m fourteen, but that’s okay. My official