Thought for the Day:
“Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.”
~ Marianne Moore, poet ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Without good dialogue, most books would be pretty terrible, so if the dialogue isn’t good, what’s the point. K. M Weiland has a great post HERE that will help you write better dialogue. And she has wonderful examples.
Quirk Books has an interesting post HERE with 101 Pieces of Advice for Writers and Serial Killers. Some good stuff in this one.
Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency has an interesting post HERE that might help you make your writing stronger.
When last we met here, I offered a gently-read hardback copy of The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall. This week’s winner is Warrchick (don’t you love that moniker?). You can read about her HERE. She is a North Carolina writer and posts wonderful book reviews on her blog. AND you can find out her real name if you go check it out. If you didn’t win, maybe it’s because you didn’t leave a comment. Hmmmmm? Leaving a comment only takes a moment. And it only takes a moment to sign up to follow my blog at the upper right of this page. I never share your information and I almost always give away books. I have another terrific book to give away this week, so keep reading please.
Once in a blue moon, I hear from an author about a book I reviewed earlier. I know I wrote a book review of Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips, but I can’t find a way to link to it. I wrote it for the Sacramento Book Review which became the San Francisco Book Review, but there is no way to access the old review. Anyway, I loved that book. It is absolutely stunning. If you haven’t read it, grab a copy and get to it. When Linda sent me an email recently and asked if I would like a review copy of her new book, Behind These Hands, I immediately said yes. So glad I did. Linda has written a really important book that simply should be read by everyone who can get his or her hands on it.
Claire is fourteen — an age when girls are tiptoeing into adulthood, testing new feelings for certain boys, testing themselves against others their own age in many ways. But for Claire, she is brutally shoved into adulthood by a beast of an illness devouring the futures of Claire’s two little brothers, Davy and Trent. Honestly, I had never heard of Batten disease until I read this book. It is a devastating diagnosis for a family to face and, since it is passed genetically, a family might well be faced with more than one child in a family having it, as is the case in this story.
Claire is a pianist and music is the main focus of her life. She is busy composing and practicing a piece she intends to enter in a state-wide contest, one that could open a lot of doors for her and which has a $1000 prize, a great help in planning for college. Her parents both teach, so the money would certainly help. Especially since her brother Davy is disabled, nearly blind and losing his speech. Claire notices her other brother, Trent, stumbling where there is no reason for it, and she can’t help but worry. When the family gets the diagnosis that points to Trent following Davy into the belly of the Batten beast, it is devastating for the family, and readers are taken on the journey with Claire, all of it written in lyrical free verse.
(Sorry — I can’t figure out how to single space this excerpt.)
Late afternoon sun
slants through the windows
in dancing patterns.
Trees full of tired leaves
sway outside in a humid
the kind of wind that
brings hurricanes to these parts.
This opening gives you just a taste of the gorgeous writing you will find in Linda’s book. The story is one that will grab your heart and squeeze it to the point of breaking, but at the same time it reminds us of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Claire is a true hero in this story and travels the hero’s journey as outlined by Joseph Campbell. We see the best of people in Claire’s friends who rally around her, and we see the worst of people in some bullies in the park. Claire’s parents represent the range of reactions people might have to such news as they face, and Claire has to navigate the battlefield between them. It is a perilous journey for one so young, but Claire finds her way through and gives readers great hope. I promise you, this is one of the best books coming out this year. You will not be disappointed. Sophisticated middle-grade readers will love this one, but so will any young adults and adults who are lucky enough to find it.
I have a signed, gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. If you are reading this in your email, please click HERE to get to my blog, then click on the title of the post, and leave a comment. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.