Danny's sister, Bridget, believes that Danny's life is more interesting than he knows: she thinks he can set events in motion by touching equations. When she gives him an equation dealing with Chaos Theory to carry in his pocket, an amazing thing happens: Danny's family separates into two. We can't choose our families. But Danny Parsons can. Trapped in the chaos of the quantum world, he's approaching the moment where he will have to, at last, choose - between the father he's always wanted, and the family he desperately needs.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||359 KB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
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If Danny Parsons had known he was about to "unleash the power of the quantum world"--which was how his little sister, Bridget, referred to it--or if he'd had even the slightest clue that in two hours the shed he was leaning against was going to explode in a fireball of near-Big Bang proportions, he probably would have had an easier time staying awake. As it was, he sat in the shade, let his eyes slowly close, and tried to keep from drooling on himself.Part of the problem was that it was July and hot. And the other part of the problem was that, on the other side of the wall he was leaning against, his mother was scribbling physics equations on a chalkboard. That reminded him of Mrs. Ferguson's seventh-grade math class. And that made him droopy. His eyes drooped until they were shut, and his chin sagged and hung from his mouth, just about resting on his chest.Math had always had that effect on him. It was in Mrs. Ferguson's math class that he'd broken his personal record for most consecutive days of falling asleep in school. Seventy-two. That added up to almost half a year. It might even have been a record for the entire seventh grade. His brother, Simon, who had just turned sixteen, liked to brag that when he was in seventh grade, he fell asleep seventy-seven times, but that was in Mrs. Ruskin's English class, where she was always playing Beethoven and Bach in the background, which was completely unfair. Plus, it was right after lunch, which was also completely unfair. Who wouldn't fall asleep? No, in Danny's mind, seventy-two third-period math naps with Mrs. Ferguson was a far bigger accomplishment. Especially considering that during the entire class she would constantly lean over Danny's shoulder and shout, "Wrong, wrong, wrong," in his ear. He would have liked to see Simon fall asleep under those conditions."Danny, wake up!""The answer is seventy-two," Danny said, his eyes startled and wide. He sat up and searched for the blackboard, the math problems, and tried to shield himself from the scorn of Mrs. Ferguson. But she wasn't there. Instead he saw the yard, his house, the barn just off to his left. He breathed a bit more easily and leaned his head against the shed. He could hear his mother on the other side of the wall. It was summer. He wasn't in school after all.Bridget, his twelve-year-old sister, glared at him. "Will you quiet down? Do you want her to hear us?""Well, stop scaring me," he said. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and shook out an arm that had started to fall asleep. "Anything happening yet?""Not yet," Bridget said.His eyes drooped again.Danny didn't mean to abandon his sister in the middle of their spying activities, but dreaming, dropping off for a moment no matter where he was, was one of the best things in his life. He dreamed--sometimes fully asleep, and sometimes by slipping into that strange place that lies between sleep and wakefulness--all the time, one minute aware of the world around him and then, in a second, drifting into a dream about a different life in another time, a dream about the life he might have lived if he hadn't been kidnapped.The dreams weren't about being kidnapped. They were dreams about a world that had somehow gone wrong--put him in the wrong family, the wrong place. They were dreams that tried to help Danny make sense of his life, because as far as he was concerned, one thing was certain: he wasn't supposed to be Danny Parsons at all. In his heart, in his very soul, he was supposed to be somebody else, somebody important. And his dreams helped him discover who that might be.He'd been creating these dreams and making up stories about himself for years, but for the past year, thanks to subscriptions to National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines, his stories had been getting much better. He used photos from the magazines to make the sights--and even the sounds and smells--so real and lifelike that he'd suddenly find that he'd been lost in a dream for hours at a time. He dreamed in bed, at the dinner table, and most often at school. That was his primary activity for about half of his time in seventh grade, though Mrs. Ferguson and his other teachers hadn't seemed to notice.But his classmates had. Danny's reputation as a perpetual dreamer was well established. He was the kid who was always "out to lunch," "zoned out." "Danny Parsons," kids said, "lights on but nobody's home." There wasn't a kid at school who didn't know him as the space cadet.Including Sarah Evans.But a part of him almost didn't care, because the fact was that the stories were so much better than his actual life, so much more exciting and real.In his imagined life he could become the second son of an Arab sultan. He could walk down a Cairo street and smell the camels, feel the dust and heat and noise of Egyptian life. Or he could be the second son of a Scandinavian reindeer breeder and, just as Mrs. Ferguson was explaining how to solve for x, he'd find himself wincing at the cold, squinting in the blinding light of the Arctic sun. He'd gotten pretty good at it. The dream stories were perfect.And there were moments when, in his own mind, he ceased being Danny Parsons, the second son of Wade Parsons, the Harvard-educated stock boy. He became, instead, the second son of a great and powerful man, standing before the wonders of the world in a seersucker suit, the smells of exotic spices and ancient dust surrounding him until he felt himself standing taller, breathing easier, with confidence, so that he felt that if he held his hand out to a dark-haired, blue-eyed girl, she'd be glad to take it.This time, as he sat outside the shed in his backyard, his chin sank slowly to his chest and he began to dream that he was the second son of an international undercover agent who had brought him to a laboratory on the outskirts of Prague to spy on a top-secret nuclear physicist.The Czechoslovakian sun is hotter than usual and, in spite of the tension surrounding the spying and the intrigue and the cool way his father's German-made pistol makes his pocket bulge, Danny finds himself repeatedly distracted by a group of young people his age who take the benches beside them. One of the girls has dark hair and blue eyes and she reminds him of someone, if he could only think who it is, but his father places his hand firmly in the middle of Danny's back and leads him silently into the shade, where they wait for the moment when the secrets of the universe will be revealed to them. Just Danny and his father. Together. And in the dream Danny knows that this is what he has been waiting for his entire life, although, for some reason, every now and again he steals a look over his shoulder at the girl on the bench behind him.Bridget grabbed his arm. "Shhh!" she said, even though he hadn't said a word. "Listen."Danny blinked in the light that reflected off the roof of the barn and rubbed his arm, which had fallen asleep for real this time.