When fourteen-year-old Zinnia and her younger brother uncover an old Back to the Future lunchbox in their attic, the siblings aren’t prepared for what’s inside: their mom’s high school diary.
Desperate to find out who their real dad is, Zinnia begs her brother to keep the find a secret while she investigates. That’s easy for him but not so for Zinnia whose anxiety and need for order rules her world. Besides, she can’t expect her mom to tell her the truth about her dad if she’s secretly reading her diary. Her brother’s less interested in discovering their deadbeat dad and more curious about the recent strange connections to the movie: the BTTF lunchbox, his sister’s Marty McFly vest, their neighbor’s fancy new DeLorean, and the cute boy named Martin. Ultimately, they team up, but it will take more than the two of them to uncover the truth, and time’s running out. Their town’s planning a yard sale to raise money for Parkinson’s, and Zinnia’s mom wants to clean out the attic for donations. She’s especially interested in the lunchbox.
If Mom finds out Zinnia has her diary, she might never speak to her again. If Zinnia doesn’t confront her mom soon, she might never meet her dad. All she wants is to be brave like Marty McFly and fix her broken family. Instead, she’s doing a bang up job breaking it apart.
If Life’s about straightening every visible imperfection, then I’m definitely on the right road. While my therapist scribbles on her notepad, I’m occupied with the tangled fringe of her office rug. Mom’s brilliant idea to sign me up for therapy after the last six months of my life turned into a television reality show for closet organizers.
“How does that make you feel, Zinnia? The rug. Better? Is the…sizzling in your chest gone?” Lisa the Scribbler flips through pages then sets the pad down and folds her hands in her lap.
This is our fourth session in two months.
I shrug. “I guess.” Staring at the rug’s other side of fringe, I resist the urge to kneel again and comb through crooked threads. Snakelike electrical impulses crawl across my chest.
“Like I said, if something eases your nerves, and no one’s getting hurt…especially you…go for it.” Lisa tucks a purple streak of hair behind her ear. She could be in one of my classes. Looks-wise.
My palms rest on my thighs, and I make a mental note to trim my nails after dinner. Then I ask the question I’ve been chewing on for two months: “Is it true anxiety’s passed down? I mean, my mom is the least organized person I know.”
“What’s your dad like?”
The million dollar question. I swallow. “Never met him.”
“Oh.” Lisa lifts her pad and scribbles. “Is he alive?”
God, I never even thought of that. Thanks, Lisa.