Say It Out Loud — Review

Thought for the Day:

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”
~ Paul Coelho ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

C. S. Lakin has a great post HERE on Live Write Thrive that will give you 3 Powerful Cinematic Techniques for Novelists.

Eldred Bird has a wonderful post HERE on Writers in the Storm about the importance of a character’s backstory, and how to find the backstory for your characters.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about the dreaded synopsis. I often link to posts about that topic. Recently, I ran across the best article I have read on this topic. HERE you will find Taming the Synopsis: 4 Steps for Perfecting One-Page and Long-Form Synopses by Ammi-Joan Paquette which appeared in Writer’s Digest a while back.

The writing journey goes on for me. This week, I finished reading my middle-grade historical novel out loud to myself. Honestly, I never really got comfortable listening to myself, but it was a very rewarding exercise nonetheless. I found a LOT of little things that needed fixing. Not grammar things. That part was pretty clean because I am such a grammar Nazi. But I did find a lot of places that needed clarification, places where I was clear on what was going on, but I realized the readers might well not be. I also found a few places where I hadn’t checked on some historical facts, and a couple of them needed to be changed. And the good news is when I did the research necessary, I just found what I needed and didn’t go down any rabbit holes and lose of half-day of writing. I hope the writers among you are having good times with your work.

Last week I offered a gently-read ARC of Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern to one of you. This week’s winner is Sue Heavenrich. Congratulations, Sue! I will get your book out to you soon. If you don’t know Sue, she is a biologist and science writer from upstate New York. Her recently published picture book, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly, is one of my favorite picture books of the year. You can check out more of what she does on her two blogs, Sally’s Bookshelf, and Archimedes Notebook.

This week, I want to tell you about a book that is possibly my favorite middle-grade novel of the year. It is Say It Out Loud by Allison Varnes. Many middle-grade novels look at the issue of bullying, but I think this one does so more successfully than most. I would have to guess that Ms. Varnes must have been subjected to bullying as a girl because this book has such visceral depictions of being bullied. It is an amazing book. Here is the review I wrote for the Portland Book Review.

Charlotte is a quiet girl. She has learned that if she stays quiet, no one can make fun of her stutter. But sometimes it’s not okay to be silent, and Charlotte learns this lesson in a very hard way. When Charlotte and her BFF Maggie are bullied on the bus, Maggie speaks up and Charlotte stays silent. She even stops sitting with Maggie so she can avoid the bullies. Charlotte’s parents sign her up for musical theatre, and while she never stutters when she sings, talking on stage is a different thing altogether. But just as she is starting to find her voice, the program is canceled. Charlotte needs to find her words to stand up for herself and the musical theatre program and, most of all, to repair her friendship with Maggie. Can she do it?

Allison Varnes Photo Credit: Belinda Keller

Allison Varnes has written a book that is powerful, important, and will absolutely hook readers. Themes around friendship and bullying are critical to middle-graders. The writing is beautiful, the voice of Charlotte is pitch-perfect, and the characters and story are very compelling. This is one of the best middle-grade books of the year. Do not miss this book.

I have no giveaway this week since I hope to read this book one more time before I will donate the nice hardback copy I received. I don’t read a lot of books twice just because of time constraints, but this one may be the exception. It is that good. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE. He always has links to several middle-grade reviews, and he writes reviews on his own blog two or three times a week. See you here soon!

23 thoughts on “Say It Out Loud — Review”

  1. Sounds excellent, Rosi! I just picked it up. “Possibly my favorite middle-grade novel of the year” is high praise. There can’t be enough books on this topic, especially for those who witness bullying and have a choice to make.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know a book is great when you want to start reading it again, maybe right away. Sometimes I feel the opposite…when I put a book down because I don’t want to get to the end. Thank you for sharing your recommendation and your writing tips.


    1. I actually have two completed MG manuscripts. One needs a lot of work. The other, I think, is pretty close. This is a terrific book. I hope you get to read it sometime. Thanks for the comment.


  2. Oooh – another book I will have to read. I am a big fan of books about kids finding their voice, whether it is through speaking, writing, painting, dance, etc…. I will be sharing the dreaded synopsis link with my crit group. Thanks for the shout-out for 13 Ways to Eat a Fly, and looking forward to reading Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen (and you know it will get passed around from my hands to others…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this one should be high on everyone’s reading list. It’s terrific. So glad you found a link of value. Your book should arrive soon. Always glad to give your book a shout-out. It is a wonderful book. Thanks for the comment.


  3. I appreciate the links! I’d decided to wait until I was less busy to read these but I couldn’t resist looking at the last one on the dreaded synopsis. Very helpful.
    Your review puts SAY IT OUT LOUD high on my list of future books to read. I like that there are more stories this year with stuttering as a backdrop. The main character sound perfect. I hope to get to this one soon. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That dreaded synopsis link is a good one. I’m glad you put this high on your list. It’s such a good book. I know you will like it, and your students will as well. Thanks for always reading and commenting, Greg. I appreciate it.


  4. This sounds like a wonderful book, Rosi! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much that you plan to read it again—that definitely says a lot about how good it is! It sounds like there’s a lot of meaningful themes in here, like friendships and overcoming judgment and speaking out, and the element of musical theater sounds wonderful too.

    I’m glad reading your writing aloud helped you find some things you could fix—and I’m glad you got to research those facts without getting too caught up in it! And I love the meme and quote as well. Thanks so much for the great post, and happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay, another book with a main character who stutters. I’ve been waiting for years to see this happen. And of course bullying goes along with stuttering. This sounds like a really good story. Perfect for my website theme!

    Interesting to hear about your research and writing process for your book. Have always heard reading it aloud does give you a different perspective. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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