The Art of Getting Stared At

Razorbill Penguin Canada -

Amazon Indigo

Sixteen-year-old Sloane is given the biggest opportunity of her life – a chance for a film school scholarship – but she has only two weeks to produce a video. She also has to work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history. Then comes a horrifying discovery: Sloane finds a bald spot on her head. The pink patch, no bigger than a quarter, shouldn’t be there. Neither should the bald spots that follow. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata. The autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure, and no definitive outcome. The spots might grow over tomorrow or they might be there for life. She could become completely bald. No one knows. Determined to produce her video and keep her condition a secret, Sloane turns into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with their looks. She’s also forced to confront a painful truth: she is as judgemental as anyone else … but she saves the harshest judgments for herself.

Shortlisted for the CLA YA Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Snow Willow Award
Shortlisted for the White Pine Award
Shortlisted for the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize
Shortlisted for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

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What People Are Saying

An awesome book . . . you will be crying by the end.
– Alyssa Ashton, Canadian Living Magazine

Please pick up this book because it needs to be read.
– Conversations of a Reading Addict

A rich story that deals with illness and body image.
– Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

I would recommend this read to teens everywhere.
– Chapter x Chapter

I loved this story . . . a beautiful and compelling tale of looking beyond the superficial.
– Booking It With Hayley G

The Art of Getting Stared At is one novel that will keep you thinking long after you turn the final page.
– Pop! Goes The Reader

Langston is clearly an author to watch and someone who knows how to handle difficult subjects with equal measures of honesty and heart.
– Xpresso Reads

A thought provoking novel . . . with a strong moral centre . . . about one girl learning there’s always more to people than what meets the eye.
– More Than Just Magic


Kim stares at me like I’m some kind of ghost that’s taken form in front of her. A sloppy ghost. She’s preppy perfect and wearing the same colors as her living room: brown denim, a V-necked white cashmere sweater and a chunky beaded necklace in shades of green and blue. I wonder if she’s expecting company and wants to be color coordinated? I squelch a bubble of nervous laughter.

“I’ll get right on it.” Stepping over a suitcase, I pitch my underwear into the basket and retrieve my duffel from the floor. “Everything will be cleaned up by dinner.” If it kills me.

“That’s not what I’m talking about.” She gestures to my pillow. “I’m talking about that.”

I look past her shoulder and my blood stops. The sea foam pillow with the pretty lace trim is littered with hair.

The dark pit of panic, the one lodged permanently behind my breastbone, thumps good morning against my rib cage.

Remember? it mocks. Remember, remember?

As if I could forget. The duffel slides from my fingers and hits the floor with a soft plop.

The pale pillowslip is covered with curls and swirls of hair. It reminds me of a song Mom used to sing. Something about bows and flows of angel hair. And ice cream castles in the air. But this isn’t a song. That’s not angel hair. And I’m not a little girl dreaming of ice cream castles.

Don’t look. Tears well up behind my eyes. I avert my gaze. I’m not dreaming at all. Unfortunately.

Kim is studying me. Or, more specifically, she’s staring at my hair. That’s when I realize: I haven’t brushed it. What if she sees a spot? My gaze bounces from my duffel to my suitcase to my overnight bag. Where’s my brush?

“It’s nothing.” I’m amazed I can speak around the lump in my throat. “Everybody loses hair, right?” I have a comb in my bag. I need to pull it out. I need Kim to leave.

And I need to call Mom. Her flight doesn’t leave for over an hour. I’m sure she’s still on the ground. I don’t know what I’ll tell her: stay? Help? But I need to hear her voice.

Kim steps towards me. She’s so close I see the faint wrinkles radiating out from her eyes, a thin line of foundation that she didn’t blend along her jaw. “My God, Sloane.” Before I can move away, she reaches out and touches the spot just above my ear. “Why are you pulling out your hair?”

“I’m not!” My voice sounds strange, like I’m speaking through a tin can. “It’s not what you think, okay. It’s not.”

“Then what is it?”

Is that concern in her green eyes? For a second I think so and I’m tempted to tell her everything but when she adds a sharp, “What’s going on?” I snap back to reality. Kim is horrified and disgusted. As I expected.

Embarrassed, I turn away, only to come face to face with the pillow and all that hair. I squeeze my eyes shut. “I don’t want to talk about it!”

“But -.”

“Leave.” Hot tears snake down my cheeks. Furious, I wipe them away.

“Please. Just leave me alone.”

I feel her staring at my back. I know she wants an answer but I’m not prepared to give it. Not now. Not to her.

“Fine. I’ll leave. You can have a little time. Your dad and Ella will be out for most of the afternoon. But we’re going to talk, Sloane. You and I. Before they come home.”