Jade's lips were burning for a cigarette, her legs jumping underneath the seat as she pulled into the lot of Central High School. She parked and turned to look at Gee. He was slumped against the window, his face pressed against the glass. She shook him by the shoulder and called his name.

"This is a good thing," she said. "I wish this had happened to me when I was your age."

Still, he wouldn't look at her.

"I'm not saying it's going to be easy."

Gee tuned out his mother and surveyed the lot. It was nearly full, although the town hall wasn't set to start for another half hour. He'd been dreading the start of the school year all summer. He hadn't had a good night's sleep since he got the letter approving his transfer to Central. He was gnashing his teeth again.

"You don't know," Jade went on, "what a difference this is going to make. This is a good school. I've been lucky. I don't want you to have to count on luck."

Gee's mother was good at pep talks, reminding him to double-check his homework, put lotion on his hands. She liked to monitor, advise, steer him the right way. Sometimes he thought he ought to be more grateful. But she didn't seem to notice that his insides were quaking. Gee felt his jaw clamp shut. He pried it open to speak.

"What's the point of this meeting anyway? What is there to discuss? It's all final, isn't it?"

"It's supposed to be a welcome."

"Will it be?"

Excerpted from "What's Mine and Yours," ©2021 by Naima Coster. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.