A tween’s foreign exchange experience lands her in London luxury—and some hot water as well!
Twelve-year-old Jordan isn’t unhappy, but she’s definitely bored. So when she gets the chance to take part in a London exchange program, she’s thrilled to ditch her small town in Delaware and see the world across the pond.
Unfortunately, Jordan’s host sister in London, Caroline, isn’t exactly enthusiastic about entertaining an American girl. Despite the chilly welcome, Jordan finds herself loving the city and Caroline’s group of friends, who are much nicer than Caroline herself.
And then a major misstep leaves Jordan and Caroline trapped together overnight—inside Daphne’s, the world’s largest department store. Given they have complete access to all the fancy shoes, designer dresses, and coolest makeup around, there are worse places to be stuck. But when the girls’ fun has not-so-fun consequences, Jordan’s wish for excitement abroad turns into a lot more than she ever bargained for...
The flyer in my hand said it was a one-week student program in London—as in the most exciting city in Europe. I needed something exciting, anything other than what was called “my life.”
Everybody has a “thing.” Some people are good at sports, or music, or are popular, or are at the bottom of the social ladder.
Except me. I didn’t have a thing. Translation? I was a positively ordinary thirteen-year-old girl who led a boring life. Consider my life’s report card:
• I lived in a regular old town without a palm tree, igloo, or palace (Wilmington, Delaware) = blah.
• I didn’t do any sports or clubs = yawn.
• I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, ride my bike without a helmet, go to R movies, or attend boy-girl dances = lame.
• I lived next door to my school, where my dad worked = annoying.
• Worst of all, I’d never done anything exciting. When I explained this to my parents, they brought up my trip with the Girl Scouts last year. I didn’t think that should count, because it was only two nights and my mom was there. It was totally Dullsville. (I dropped out of Girl Scouts right after.)
This school-sponsored trip was like a miracle opportunity sent directly to me, Jordan Jacoby. What could be more exciting than London? (Paris, possibly, but that doesn’t matter right now.) I wanted to go to London to become worldly by traveling around that amazing city and soaking in its history and culture.
There was just one problem. Kind of a biggie. My parents.
I studied the London program information on my short walk home from school—across the football field, through a gate, along a short path, and onto the sidewalk that led to my house. My dad was a little ways behind me, walking home too.
Let me give you some advice if your parents ever consider working at your school:
Talk them out of it.
Sabotage the interview.
Recruit someone else for the job.
Do whatever it takes for them to work anywhere other than at your school. Seriously, anywhere. And if they somehow manage to get the job, beg them to change their name and pretend they don’t know you.
I love my dad, but walking to and from school with him every day, and seeing him lurk in the hallways, sucked any possible element of fun from my middle-school existence. I couldn’t so much as draw on my sneaker with a permanent marker, or talk to a boy, without getting “the look.” The you-and-I-both-know-you-shouldn’t-be-doing-that look.
I wanted this trip.
“What are you reading?” Dad walked faster to catch up with me.
“About the school-sponsored trip to London this year. I really, really want to go.”
He immediately harrumphed, but I didn’t let that stop me. This was going to take persistence. And I could be seriously persistent.
The conversation about the trip went on all afternoon and into dinner. “There has got to be more to the world than Wilmington, Delaware. I’ve never done anything or gone anywhere.”
“Now, that’s just not true,” Mom said. “You went away overnight to Girl Scout camp. Remember that?”
Oh, yeah. Did I ever.
I tried: “Oh, come on. You never let me do anything fun. And it’s only five days.”
Then I went to: “We live in an American-centric society. Isn’t it important for me to broaden my horizons?” (I’d gotten that from the flyer.)
I added: “I have the assignment all planned out. It’s going to be a photo montage of sights with narration. I promise I’ll get an A, or maybe an A-minus, on it and I’ll weed all summer long to pay you back for the trip.”
Finally I went with: “It will be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!”
My mom talked about me staying with an old friend of hers who had a stepdaughter about my age. This made me think she was seriously considering it. Then she started talking about the dangers of a foreign city—drugs, kidnapping—and the cost of the trip. It wasn’t looking good.
Then—I don’t know what happened exactly—but at that moment, on Marsh Road in Wilmington, Delaware, a miracle occurred. They said YES!
I was going to embark on a journey called the De-bored-ification of Jordan Jacoby.
Only, I had no idea how de-bored-ified my life was about to become.
Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Lost in London, Lost in Paris, Lost in Rome, Lost in Ireland (formerly titled Lucky Me), Lost in Hollywood, the award-winning Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em Dead, Just Add Magic (which is now a breakout streaming original series), and its sequel Potion Problems. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware.