• The diary was old. The binding was barely holding up, and the lock was practically blue from being tarnished so badly. I dug deeper into the box, sifting through millions of black and white photos, Hallmark cards, torn letters, CD’s, cassette tapes; finally I found the tiny silver key at the bottom. It shone in contrast to the faded cardboard. Or maybe it was just how special it was.
    I carefully fit it into the small keyhole and turned. The lock popped off and landed with a small thud on my plush pink carpet. I stared at the purple irises on the cover for a moment, tracing the patterns of the leaves with my index finger.
    Then, gingerly, I opened the cover to the first yellowed page. My mother’s elegantly sloppy handwriting was scrawled all across the paper and filled it from top to bottom. It was the very first diary entry she’d ever written.
    In the top right-hand corner was the date. July 23, 1978.
    I read each word that followed slowly, taking it all in.

    Dear Diary,
    I guess I should go ahead and tell you about me. I’m Jennifer Ellen Steen, but most people call me Jen. I’m thirteen years old as of today. I live in West Hempstead, New York with my father Walter, my mother Dorothy, and my older sister Elizabeth, but everyone calls her Liz.
    I’m a pretty happy kid with a pretty good life, but it has its fair share of problems. For starters, Dad’s a drunk. A mean drunk.