My secret sits at the back of my throat like a balled-up spider. I don’t like it there. Who would? Spider secrets are the worst. For a whole year, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get this one out, but I’m afraid if I move, that secret might stretch out its legs and crawl down my throat, all the way to my stomach where I’ll never be able to reach it. Novalee starts the fourth grade determined to not just make friends but to change herself from boring Nova into super Nova. Her mom finds her grandfather’s violin, and Nova decides to take lessons. It seems to work as Nova finds acceptance for her growing skill. But her world soon tumbles out of control when her violin teacher does something that threatens her universe: he kisses her. She makes an unlikely friendship with a fellow outcast, Toby, who helps her find the courage, voice, and persistence to confront the spider secret.
Lori Ann Stephens is the author of Song of the Orange Moons, Some Act of Vision (winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award), and Pierre François: 5th Grade Mishaps. Her award-winning short stories have also been published in Glimmer Train Stories, The Chicago Tribune, and several literary journals. She lives outside of Dallas and teaches at Southern Methodist University.