book review, Courage for Beginners, Karen Harrington, Kristin Levine, Madeleine L'Engle, Shannon Messenger, The Paper Cowboy

The Paper Cowboy — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.”
~Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Every day I receive an email from A.Word.A.Day. I love this free service and I enjoy learning new words. Recently they had a series of words about words. What could be better? Anyway, I have two samples from A.Word.A.Day for you to enjoy. You can sign up for the free service and get new words every day as well. Click HERE to find out how. Here are your two words.

noun: A repetition of words or an idea in a reverse order.
Example: “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.”
From Greek antimetabole, from anti- (opposite) + metabole (change), from meta- (after, along) + bole (a throw). Earliest documented use: 1589.

noun: A figure of speech in which two words joined by a conjunction are used to convey a single idea instead of using a word and its modifier.
Example: “pleasant and warm” instead of “pleasantly warm”
From Latin hendiadys, from Greek hen dia duoin (one by two). Earliest documented use: 1589.

My critique partners have pointed out my protagonists are often just too good to be believed. Yup. I like my characters to be perfect. The ladies at Writers Helping Writers have a terrific post that I find particularly helpful in this area. You can find it HERE.

Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating has a wonderful post, 90 Things to Know About Your Character Before Writing. Click HERE to make sure you cover it all.

Last week I offered a hardcover copy of Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington. This weeks winner is Michael G-G. Michael is a middle-grade writer and shares his thoughts on two different blogs — Middle Grade Mafioso and Project Mayhem. You can click on their titles to find them. Congratulations, Michael! I will get the book out to you this week. For the rest of you, fear not! I have another great book to give away this week.

As writers of books for young people, one piece of advice we hear with great

frequency is to make sure our main characters are likable, someone for whom readers will root. Kristin Levine took quite a risk in writing her latest book, The Paper Cowboy. Her main character, Tommy, is definitely a kid with issues — the kind middle-graders will relate to. His mother is abusive and very likely mentally ill. His older sister is badly burned and is in the hospital for month. Tommy feels like her accident was his fault. His father is completely uncommunicative. But Tommy has trouble dealing with all this in positive ways. He is basically a bully and a pretty unlikable character a lot of the time. With Tommy’s life being pretty much nothing but crap, he finds someone whose life is crappier and throws some extra crap on him. That’s how he deals with his lousy life. But he isn’t really comfortable with this role, and there is a chink in his bully armor that the object of his bullying and that boy’s dad work away at until they find the real Tommy, who is more afraid than mean.

This is just a tiny peek into a book that is so rich with very believable, well-rounded characters set in the McCarthy era 1950s, which plays in important

Kristin Levine

role in the story. It was a time that created great vulnerability for a lot of people. The connection between the big bully Joe McCarthy and the small-town bully Tommy is a great storytelling device and works extremely well in this terrific work of historical fiction. I highly recommend this book.

I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

And don’t forget to check Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways. Click HERE to visit.

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