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Spirit Level

240 pages
Harriet (known as Harry) is a donor-conceived child who has never wanted to reach out to her half-siblings or donor, until now. Feeling adrift after a breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Harry tracks down her half-siblings, two of whom are in Seattle, where Harriet lives. The first girl she meets is fifteen–year-old Lucy, an effervescent half-Japanese dancer. Then she meets Meredith, a troubled girl who is always accompanied by her best friend, Alex. Harry and Alex are attracted to each other, much to Meredith's chagrin, and when it becomes clear that Meredith is an accomplished liar, Harry makes it her business to figure out what Meredith is up to. In the course of her investigation, she discovers a lot about Meredith, but the biggest shock is not about Meredith, it’s about Alex, who was born female. So now Harry must deal with not only her growing attraction to Alex, but also Meredith’s hostility. As decisions are made around whether to contact their donor, the three donor sisters negotiate their relationship and Harry tries to figure out what she really wants.
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Saràh N. Harvey Saràh N. Harvey
Saràh N. Harvey
Copyright ©2016Sarah N. Harvey
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Harvey, Sarah N., author Spirit level / Sarah N. Harvey.
Issued in print and electronic formats. isbn 9781459808164 (pbk.).—isbn 9781459808171 (pdf).— isbn 9781459808188 (epub)
I. Title. ps8615.a764s65 2016jc813’.6 c2015904474x  c20159044758
First published in the United States,2016 Library of Congress Control Number:2015946193
Summary: Harriet is a donorconceived child who is connecting with her halfsiblings in this work of young adult fiction.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover and author photos by Shari Nakagawa
orca book publishers www.orcabook.com
For Monîque Poak jXO
“bE gEtlE With boiE,”Verna says to me. “No roug stuf. Se’s ad a bad week.” ï nod and snap on te atex goves. ï don’t aways wear goves, but to be onest, tere’s a bîg dîference between massagîng your own scap and massagîng te scap o someone wo ceary doesn’t own a aîrbrus and asn’t sowered în weeks. Bonnîe eases erse înto te caîr în ront o te sînk wît a sîg. Se as et er enormous backpack—te kînd you’d take on a two-mont wîderness îke—besîde one o te tree caîrs în te tîny saon. he Ity pack îs estooned wît grîmy scarves, a coupe o croceted ats and wat appears to be a coectîon o souvenîr key caîns—te Bîg Appe, Dîsneyand, te Eîfe Tower, London Brîdge. Everytîng îs attaced wît uge saety pîns, îke te ones you see on kîts. he pack îs ed
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togeter by a coupe o bungee cords. A battered meta water botte îs stufed înto one o te sîde pockets. “How you doîn’, on?” Bonnîe says to me as se eans er ead back over te sînk. “Good,” ï say. “ï’m good. How about you?” ï test te water on my wrîst. Too ot and te cîent screams. Too cod and tey sîver. ït doesn’t ep tat one person’s ot îs anoter person’s ukewarm. Bonnîe sîgs agaîn as te warm water reaces er scap. “Gad ît’s summer. Easîer wen ît’s nîce out.” ï nod, as î ï know wat ît’s îke to seep în one o Seatte’s many parks. ï don’t even îke campîng, wîc îs kînd o an obsessîon în te PacîIc Nortwest. And ï’m pretty sure Bonnîe doesn’t ave a tent or a nîce Coeman stove or a ome to go to î te weater îs bad. Damn. he water must be too ot, because Bonnîe groans as ît îts a spot near er et ear. “ï’m sorry,” ï say, but beore ï can adjust te tempera-ture, se says, “ït’s okay, on. Just a îtte atercatîon wît a beer botte.” ï peer at a spot rîgt above er ear and see a gas tat soud ave ad stîtces. Anoter tîng ï’m sure Bonnîe doesn’t ave îs eat însurance. he cut îs eaîng, but ît must be reay sore. ï work around ît ater ï add te sampoo, but Bonnîe stî wînces every now and agaîn. Eac tîme ï say “ï’m sorry,” se says “ït’s okay, on.” ï try to be gente, and by te tîme ï’ve Inîsed sampooîng, condîtîonîng and massagîng, Bonnîe îs snorîng îgty.
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As ï wrap a towe around er ead, careu not to rub te cut, se wakes up and smîes at me. One o er încîsors îs mîssîng, but er teet are oterwîse în remarkaby good sape. Se wînks at me. “Foss ater every mea. hat’s my motto.” ï ep er înto a caîr în ront o te mîrror. “hanks, Harry,” my mom says. “ï’ take ît rom ere.” ï spend te mornîng doîng wat ï’ve done every Sunday mornîng sînce ï was about tweve—sampooîng, condîtîonîng, massagîng, gettîng cean towes, makîng cofee. ï’ve aso been în carge o te musîc sînce ï got an îPod a ew years back—every week a dîferent pay-îst. hîs week ît’s Motown, and everyone sîngs aong. Me, Mom, Verna, wo owns te saon, and a te women wo come or te best scap massage în town, a ree aîrcut and a cup o awesome cofee. Once în a wîe ï sneak în some o te stuf ï îsten to, îke At-J and Spoon, but most o te tîme te payîsts are pretty maînstream. Cassîc rock, some country, Broadway sow tunes. ï actuay îke ît a. Stop in te name of love,” Bonnîe beows, one grubby and trust out rom under er cape, pam orward îke a traic cop. “hink it o-o-ver.” Santî, te woman în te next caîr, wo îs younger (and ceaner) tan Bonnîe and dressed în a back mîcro-mînî and a pînk skank top over a acy wîte bra, stands up suddeny and bets out, “Haven’t I been good to you? Haven’t I been sweet and true?”Everybody cracks up.
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ït’s îke tîs every Sunday at Verna’s saon, wîc îs caed sîmpy tat: Verna’s Saon. NotCut and Driedor Sear MadnessorMane Attraction, tank god. My mom started workîng ere wen se was my age—seven-teen. Se says Verna saved er îe. Se was panandîng outsîde te saon and Verna took er în, ed er, paîd er to sweep up aîr and make cofee, gave er a pace to îve and taugt er to cut aîr. Verna’s eîgty-two now and stî runnîng te saon. Lots o peope tînk Verna and Mom are moter and daugter. hey do kînd o ook aîke: sort, wîry, strong. hey bot ave bue eyes and cury bond aîr. Mom wears ers to er souders; Verna’s îs cut reay sort and îs mosty gray now. ï don’t know wat Verna saw în te kîd sîttîng outsîde er sop a tose years ago. ï’ve asked er, but se never gîves me te same answer twîce. Once se tod me ît was because Mom ooked îke er dead sîster. Anoter tîme se saîd se îked te act tat Mom was readînghe Bluest Eyewîe se pananded. Verna îs a uge Tonî Morrîson an. Maybe se just needed someone to ep out în te sop tat day. Se was a wîdow, wît no kîds o er own. Never reay wanted tem, se caîms. And ten tîs ungry, angry, smart runaway turns up, and Verna takes one ook at er and opens te door oer îe. Just îke tat. By te tîme ï was born, wen Mom was orty, se ad a PD and a good job, teacîng socîoogy at a commu-nîty coege, but every Sunday we went to te saon
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and eped Verna ook ater er “Sunday adîes”—most o tem women wo coudn’t aford te prîce o a good mea, et aone a sampoo, cut and bow-dry. he saon îs my second ome, and Verna îs te ony grandmoter ï’ve ever known. Ever sînce ï can remember, ï’ve oved te sme tat cîngs to er pressed jeans and paîd sîrts— peroxîde, perm soutîon, aîrspray, sînged aîr, te vanîa candes se burns to mask te oter smes. A ew years ago, se stopped doîng perms and coor.Too many cemicals, se saîd. But se stî smes îke te saon. Wîc îs Ine by me. ï started sweepîng up aîr wen ï was about Ive. No one asked me to do ît; ï just wanted a job, îke everyone ese, and ï was a bît young to mîx up aîr dye or wîed te scîssors.Here you go, Broomilda, Mom ad saîd wen se anded me a kîd-sîzed red broom and dustpan.Knock yourself out!he Sunday adîes oved me. hey brougt me ard candîes tat ï wasn’t aowed to eat, and ï ugged tem and cîmbed înto teîr aps wîe Mom cut teîr aîr. Wen ï was a bît bîgger, Mom got me a stoo and et me ep er wît te sampooîng. To me tey were just “Verna’s Sunday rîends,” not drug addîcts or drunks or prostîtutes or bag adîes. ï knew tat Bonnîe ad been a cartered accountant untî er drînkîng got te better o er. And Santî? Se’s a second-generatîon Sunday ady. Her mom was murdered by one o er jons a ew years back. Santî’s rea name îs Rebecca, and se as tree
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kîds, a by dîerent men. Te odest boy îs autîstîc. Wen se Irst tod me about îm, ï tougt se saîd e was artîstîc (ï coudn’t ear er over te runnîng water), so ï saîd,hat’s great. You must be really proud,and se turned around and sapped me. Hard. Mom yanked er out o te caîr and took er outsîde, aîr drîppîng, and straîgtened ît a out, but ï’ never orget tat sap.he stîng. he sound. he way everyone în te saon roze. No one ad ever ît me. Not even a swat on te bum. ït made me wonder about Santî’s kîds. Weter tey ad stopped beîng astonîsed at ow an open and ees on bare les. Today Santî (It means peace, se tod me once) as brougt er todder, a îtte patînum-bond boy named Rocco, wo spîns îmse around în te tîrd caîr wîe ï was Santî’s aîr. Wen e lîes of te caîr, e doesn’t cry. Maybe e knows better. He just sakes îs ead a coupe o tîmes and craws up înto Santî’s ap. ï keep massagîng Santî’s scap (“Harder,” se says) and îsten to Bonnîe, wo îs teîng my mom about a guy wît Ive undred cîdren. Wîc îs împossîbe. Fîty, maybe. But Ive undred? “Was e, îke, a crazy Mormon or sometîng?” ï ask. “You mean a poygamîst?” Mom says. “Not a Mormons are poygamous, you know.” “ï know, proessor,” ï repy. “ï stand corrected.” Se rowns at me, but onesty, ît’s Sunday. Can’t we skîp te socîoogy ecture?