Rachel's a straight-A student. She practices the flute 45 minutes a day. She strives for perfection in everything she does. But she grinds her teeth at night and dreads dinnertime, now that her troublemaker older brother, Charles, has been thrown out of boarding school and is back home, acting up to get attention. It's the end of 7th grade and Rachel's friends, Stephanie and Alison are way less stressed than she is. Can they help Rachel learn to lighten up? Can anyone? The companion book to Just As Long As We're Together.
By the time I'd finished Just as Long as We're Together I was intrigued by the character of Rachel Robinson and her entire family so don't ask why I didn't write Rachel's story right away. I think it's that when I finish one kind of book I want my next project to be something totally different. Between Just As.... and Here's to You... I did a book of letters from my readers, wrote Fudge-a-Mania, spent months creating a TV series based on the three girls in Just As.... (a series that never happened), spent months developing a TV series based on Fudge (a series that did happen—bringing with it disappointment, stress and unhappiness but that's another story!)
Rachel's character was inspired by a friend of mine when I was in junior high, a high achieving perfectionist. Also, I once received a letter from a 12 year old who was taking college courses. Because she was intellectually ahead of her 12 year old friends, they didn't want to be her friends anymore. She confided that she'd give it all up just to be a normal girl. I found that letter so sad. But I knew what she was saying. It's hard to feel you're different from your peers.
Then there's Charles, Rachel's difficult and disruptive older brother, and Jessica, her older sister, who's having her own problems. I could have gone on and on writing about this complicated family. It's true that Rachel is not every girl, and not all readers will identify with her the way they might with Stephanie or Alison—her two friends. But most can identify with having a challenging sibling or a workaholic parent or being kissed by a ninth grade hunk.
I had a terrible time coming up with a title for Rachel's story and I'm not happy with the one I finally chose which comes from a line in the book spoken angrily by Charles.
This book is dedicated to Amanda, my lovely stepdaughter, for no reason other than to say she's important to me.