Excerpt: 'Surface Tension'

Summer Reads for Teens

In this coming of age story told over four consecutive summers, the narrator, Luke, goes from caring about fishing and skipping stones to checking out the girls in their bikinis and writing pretentious poetry.

Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.


My eyes are closed, but I know exactly where we are. We just left Purity Ice Cream, the only place we can get peppermint stick in the summer. Mom didn't want to stop, but Dad wouldn't listen to her. He's addicted to the stuff.

Mom whispers, "Did we really have to stop for ice cream?" She thinks I'm still asleep. Dad says, "Give me a break. I've been looking forward to this for the last three hundred miles."

We turn right and head north up Route 89. It's only about a half hour now, but this part always seems like the longest part of the trip. The sounds of other cars and trucks are gone. Now it's just us and the old bumpy roads.

We swerve past Cass Park and the public pool. The yacht club. The Hangar Theater. Now we're going up the hill, and the car has to work harder. Every turn I can picture it, even with my eyes closed. I feel like I can see every single mailbox and driveway and glimpse of the lake through the trees.

Only another mile until we pass the Glenwood Pines, where they have the best cheeseburgers and also that old bowling arcade game. I almost want to ask if we can stop, but I don't. We're too close.

The road tilts down and I can feel we're about to pass the Taughannock Falls Restaurant and State Park. The falls overlook is a cool place to go, but we can't stop there either.

The trees are thinning out and the sunlight is shining onto my eyelids. The car is going faster. Dad's pushing it. He wants to get there as bad as I do. And Mom wants to get there more than anyone. I hear the car blinker, and I can't help it anymore. I open my eyes. The first view of the lake from high up on the hill. The smokestacks. The power station, like two fingers pointing to heaven. The way the road curves at the cornfield. The sign for fresh strawberries. The slow turn down toward the lake.

I say, "Do you know where you packed my bathing suit?"

"I think it's in the black suitcase, honey. Under the white T-shirts."

Dad turns off the book on tape because nobody is even listening to it anymore. We're so close. The mailbox that's shaped like the house it's in front of. The place where that famous guy used to live. The old house that nobody lives in and looks like it's haunted. My parents' favorite restaurant. The chimneys on the Wirth mansion.

The place where the road dips and I lose my stomach. The house that looks like a tepee. The dairy farm and the old farmhouse. My favorite sign. The mailboxes all in a row right before the bridge and the creek. The right turn onto the dirt road.

Everything looks exactly the same as when we left. All the cottages are still here. The Bells'. The Vizquels'. The Richardsons' big cottage at the end of the lake, and our little cottage right here on the left. We park under the pine tree in front of the garage.

Here we are. We're back. It feels like it's been forever and no time at all.

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