A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag

 Meet Jardine. Jardine is an unlucky young man with a strange philosophy. Unlucky? How so? When he writes a history report on a small country, talking of how happy the people are with their king, they overthrow and behead the king the same morning he is to hand the report in. His locker jams. When they decided to shift the border near where he lived, two businesses and one house were effected; guess whose? His philosophy? Jardine is a cosmic garbage bag which the gods keep stuffing more and more garbage into, to see when he'll break. A strange, unlucky young man, indeed.

Meet Sean. He's popular, captain of one of the sports teams, and seemingly a prince of good luck. Until he is saddled with Jardine as a partner for an English project, and learns that Jardine is determined to ace the class to win a trip to the Greek Isle of Theamelpos, where every person who visits soon after find themselves with the best of fortune.

Meet Sean's Grandpa. He's an old man who loves watching the weather channel and rooting for the storms. He's also the one Raymond Jardine approaches to impersonate Gavin Gunhold, Deceased. Gavin's the poet that Jardine decided he and Sean should do their English project on. The only problem is that Gunhold only wrote a single poem before he died, so Jardine and Sean are writing the rest, which Grandpa promptly memorizes. But can Jardine manage to pull off the grade he needs to get to Theamelpos and change his luck? It's a wild ride, finding out!

From the book:

The Poetry:

"Registration Day" by Gavin Gunhold

On registration day at taxidermy school
I distinctly saw the eyes of the stuffed moose

Late Friday afternoon, Sean was just sitting down to work on his map of Central America for geography class when Raymond showed up at the door. "I was just starting on my map," said Sean, hopefully. "It looks like a lot of work."
"I came right over," said Raymond, "to let you know how much Jardine appreciates all your efforts to prevent Ashley from going out with Cementhead tonight."
"Don't be an idiot, Raymond. You know we didn't do anything."
Raymond pretended to be surprised. "Oh! That must be why I saw the Cementmobile getting a hot-wax treatment at the car wash in the mall. And, you know, that would explain Cementhead buying a brand new muscle shirt. Jardine certainly wishes them a lovely evening. But with Cementhead, the man born with a horseshoe up his diaper, how can it miss?" His brow clouded. "Grab your coat, Delancey. You're coming with me."
"I refuse to follow Ashley and Steve around on their date."
Raymond shook his head. "It's not that at all. We've got a long night before us, and we'd better get a head start sulking. Jardine requires your presence, because you are the only other person in the universe who realizes just how terrible this really is."
Sean thought it over. There was no refuting the logic, but he sure didn't feel like spending a whole evening listening to Raymond crab and complain. He was upset enough as it was over Ashley and Steve. "You know, my mom's making a big dinner tonight, and --"
Mrs. Delancey peered out of the kitchen. "No, I'm not, dear. We're having leftover liver, remember?"
Sean turned back to Raymond. "Why do you want to go out somewhere with me? Since this is supposed to be my fault, you should be avoiding me."
"I'm not blaming you," said Raymond. "You were made not to do anything by them." He glanced up at the ceiling. "So they could get a few more licks in at Jardine."
With a huge sigh, Sean went for his coat. There really was no avoiding Raymond Jardine, not even in moments of stress.
Raymond decided that they should grab some dinner at the Underwood Colonial Diner in Massapequa.
"Why there?" Sean asked.
"Because they have the worst food on Long Island," Raymond replied grimly.
After dinner, they went to a broken-down theater in Bellmore to see an old black-and-white detective film from the 1950s.
"It's the lousiest movie I've ever seen," Raymond explained as they bought their tickets.
When the movie was over, they picked up two jumbo orders of stale popcorn and went to hang out in Schuyler Park.
"The ugliest place in Nassau County," Raymond reasoned.
They left the park at ten and returned to the Delancey TV room to cap off the night watching a Gunsmoke rerun dubbed in Serbo-Croatian on cable and sipping enormous glasses of tomato juice.
"Why tomato juice?" Sean asked as he headed for the kitchen.
"Jardine hates tomato juice," Raymond replied.

Raymond sat forward in his chair. "Well, Delancey, Jardine had a putrid time. I hope you had the same. I'd better get going so we can both burst into tears in the privacy of our own rooms."
A smile tugged at the corner of Sean's mouth. "Raymond, dinner was lousy, the movie stank, and the park was ugly and boring. What less could I ask for? I hope the tomato juice was to your disliking?"
Raymond was clearly impressed. "Hey, Delancey, you're starting to think like Jardine. Bad move."

Copyright © 1987 Gordon Korman, used by permission