Monthly Archives: July 2012

Editing and preparation for Camp NaNo

Camp NaNo starts in less than an hour. I’m tempted to stay up and start writing exactly at midnight, but since I have to wake up around 5:30 tomorrow for training, I probably shouldn’t. I am, however, tempted to wake up at 5 instead and write for a little bit. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. I might just go back to sleep for an extra half hour. At the very least, I’m bringing a notebook and my notes for chapter 1 with me so that I can write at work.

Just the returning photographers are going to training tomorrow, and there’s not really anything that they can tell me that I don’t already know. I mean, I worked a job already yesterday, so it’s a bit late to try to train us. The only new thing I noticed was that there’s an extra alignment line thing that shows us where to crop the bottom of the picture to. They could explain that in an email. They don’t really need to call us all in and make us sit there for eight hours. But whatever. That’s why I’m bringing a notebook. The notebook will also be useful when they make us sit through that incredibly boring sexual harassment video that they make us watch every season, even though corporate only demands that we watch it once a year.

I’m a bit worried that I haven’t prepared enough for Camp. There are still a few details I’m not exactly clear on, and I haven’t decided exactly how to deal with the fact that the last like eight chapters of the book switch back and forth between Samantha and Chloe and completely ignore Natalie. Oh, and I’m still not entirely sure what I want Samantha’s relationship with another side character to be.

On the other hand, I also have descriptions for all of the main characters and several of the main side characters. I understand their motivations and know what they want and what they’re afraid of. I have an outline that summarizes all the major events by month. I have another outline that breaks up what will be in each chapter. I have another outline that just lays out all the important dates and what days of the week those events occur on. I asked two different Facebook friends for help on what two of my characters would be doing for their senior projects. I have plenty of information to draw on. I’m way more prepared than I’ve been for novels in the past. I’m just nervous, I guess.

My goal for the month is 60k or a finished first draft. I’d like the finished draft more, but I would also like to bring my total word count for 2012 up to 300k, and 60k this month would do that. That’s a little more than 1900 a day, which isn’t horrible if I actually stay focused and write at least one chapter a day.

I originally wanted to be finished with the first round of edits for Tilt before Camp started, but it looks like that’s not happening. I am pleased with what I’ve done so far, though. I’ve made markups of the entire manuscript, and I have a new outline of each chapter with notes for things to add and things to delete. I started trying to type up the changes as I went, but once I hit chapter 12, I ran into bigger problems, which led to a lot of shuffling around and major rewrites, and it was just easier to read the whole thing and tag problem areas as “delete” or “expand” and just deal with it later.

Tilt now sits at 96,575 words, down from the 101,478 words that it started at. In case anyone cares, that’s a net decrease of 4,903 words so far, and I’ve just finished fixing chapter 18. There were originally 39 chapters, but I’ve made notes to delete four of those. I’m on page 94 out of `189 (1.5 spaced, Garamond size 11 font, 0.7 inch margins, in case anyone’s curious). I’ve also just wrapped up December 2010. This means I’m pretty much in the middle of the novel no matter how you want to look at it, which is pretty exciting. I’m rather pleased with the draft so far. It doesn’t feel quite as…stifling…as it was before. April talks to people. She’s not just shut up in her room for half the book. Quite an improvement.

I’ll probably still end up making changes during August, but I’m going to try to focus more on writing Keep Going. I’ll finish editing Tilt in September. Then I’ll probably work on editing Degeneration. I’ve also been coming up with more ideas for the short story I wrote for my thesis class that I’ve always wanted to rewrite as a novel. I’m starting to see that world more clearly, and I look forward to getting more notes down on paper for that one. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be writing that one for NaNo this year.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, I should simply try to get some sleep so I can wake up early and write tomorrow morning…I mean so that I don’t fall asleep during training.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters You’d Like to Switch Places with for 24 Hours

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Characters I’d Like to Switch Places with for 24 Hours.

1. Vin from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
I wouldn’t want to deal with all the things that she’s had to deal with in the first book, or all the things I’m sure will come in the next two books, but I think I could handle it for 24 hours. It would be fun to be able to push and pull myself through the air.

2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Again, it would be nice to have magical powers for a day. It would also be nice to walk around for a day with so much confidence.

3. Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
It would be interesting to see what it’s like to transform into an animal, and then to actually be that animal. Hey – if you’re going to switch with someone for 24 hours, at least make it interesting.

4. Emily from The Pact by Jodi Picoult
This is a seemingly odd choice, considering the book opens with her suicide, but it makes sense to me. I’ve been miserable at times, but I’ve never considered suicide. It might help put things into perspective to live as a suicidal person for a day, to really feel what it’s like to feel that hopeless. It would definitely help make me feel less bad on days when I complain about my life.

5. Whitney from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Another seemingly odd choice, but I can explain this one, as well. Whitney suffers from anorexia. As the book goes on, she grows more and starts slowly eating again. I would like to experience a day in her shoes because anorexia is something that I just cannot understand. I’ve been fat my whole life. Food is my comfort. I’m not saying that’s a healthy thing, either, of course, but it’s what I know. I can’t understand people who have to be forced to eat. It would be educational to see things from her point of view.

6. Lindsey from Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
It would interesting to experience a day in the life of someone completely unlike myself. Someone who’s popular and torments people just because she can, who does whatever she wants to do and isn’t so cautious. I hate her, but it would be interesting to be her for a day, just to see what it’s like.

7. Jessica Darling from Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
I always wanted to go to college in New York city. I ended up going to Minneapolis instead, but I still wish I could spend a day at Columbia.

8. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Really, I just want to experience flying. That would be really cool.

9. Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
With this one, I want to be her before she’s pregnant and Remus learns about the baby and has his little freak-out moment. For one, it would be cool to be able to change my appearance at will like that. For another, I’d get to be with Remus Lupin.

10. Lily Evans from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Okay, so I don’t really want to be Lily from the seventh book, since she’s, you know, dead. But I want to be the Lily Evans that we learn about in the seventh book, the one that was best friends with Severus Snape. I can’t believe it took me until my last spot to think of this one. Severus is just so misunderstood and unloved. I just wish I could give him a hug and make him feel loved for one day.
Who would you like to switch places with?

Book 35: Starters by Lissa Price

Title: Starters
Author: Lissa Price
Page Count: 336
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Dystopia/science fiction

Rating: 3/10

Summary:
The Spore Wars killed everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. Teens aren’t allowed to work, so those without grandparents to claim them are left to wander the streets, begging for food. Sixteen-year-old Callie’s only option is a place called Prime Destinations, a place where teens can rent out their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. Three rentals, and she’ll have enough money to get a real home for her and her sick brother. But what happens when the chip placed in her malfunctions, and she wakes up to discover that the woman renting her body plans to commit a murder?

Opinion:
I had such high hopes for this novel. I love dystopian novels, and I love the name Callie, so this book seemed great. Plus the title was pretty and the premise sounded really interesting. I was thrilled when I finally got this book from the library. I started reading it right away. And then things fell apart.

I couldn’t get into this book. I tried. I really did. I eventually put it down and read another book instead. Then another. Then another. I generally try not to start another book until I finish the one I’m on, so to have me read three books before I finally finished this one is saying something. The characters felt sort of weak. The love triangle felt obligatory and didn’t really lead to anything. I especially didn’t understand why Callie and Blake would be drawn to each other, especially towards the end of the book.

I didn’t really start to get interested until the middle of the book, when Callie and her renter start really communicating, and even that was only slightly more interesting. Around page 200 I started to care a bit more and actually enjoyed reading it for a while, but that was almost 2/3 into the book, and by that point I had already contemplated stopping reading several times by that point.

The character of Sara seemed thrown in to remind Hunger Games fans of another character of the same age in that series. The quote on the cover of this book says that fans of the Hunger Games will love it, but that wasn’t the case with me, and it felt like they were trying too hard. A sixteen-year-old girl has to leave behind her younger sibling and the guy she doesn’t like but sort of does to go risk death to make a lot of money so that they can all live a great life. She keeps thinking about her father. Other people are controlling her life without her really knowing it, at least for a while. It just…it doesn’t work, at least not for me.

The ending as a whole felt anti-climactic and sort of thrown together. If an author feels the need to spend several pages summarizing everything that happened in the book in order for the ending to make sense, something has clearly gone wrong. The very, very ending of the book was supposed to be surprising, but I had already been predicting that for at least 40 pages by that point, so I wasn’t surprised. That is, however, the only reason I would read the second book, due out later this year: I’m curious to see the rationale behind that.

Overall, I had force myself to keep reading this book, and there were so many loose ends and things that didn’t really make sense. It was a good premise that didn’t live up to my expectations. I think I actually enjoyed Twilight more – that’s how much I disliked this book.

Book 34: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Title: Someone Like You
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 281
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult

Rating: 9/10

Summary:
Scarlett has always looked out for Halley. She protects her from the mean kids at school and comforts her whenever she needs it. When Scarlett’s boyfriend is killed in a motorcycle accident, though, their positions are switched. Now Halley has to take care of Scarlett, because that’s what best friends do. But her own life isn’t that simple, either. She has a father who embarrasses her on the radio, a mother who’s trying to control her life, and a boyfriend who keeps pressuring her to have sex. And, to top it all off, Scarlett discovers she’s pregnant. If Halley can barely control her own life, how is she supposed to help Scarlett?

Opinion:
This was the last Dessen book that I read, and I’m sad I didn’t read it sooner. This book feels more serious than the other novels of hers I’ve read. I’m glad to say that this is the first book/movie I’ve seen in a while where a character gets pregnant and at least discusses all of her options. That fact alone bumped it up a star in my book.

Overall, I liked the characters. Halley and her mother have their issues, but they were realistic. I could understand Halley’s reluctance to let her mother control her life, but I could understand why her mother was worried about her. It’s always nice to see a mother/daughter relationship where they fight a lot but obviously still love each other. Dessen does a great job portraying realistic relationships in general. Halley’s relationship with Macon seemed realistic, as well. I liked the sudden shift from complete adoration of this guy she barely knew to happily dating him to feeling pressured to do more and being unsure of herself. I’m also glad that she didn’t glorify teenage pregnancy. I mean, at the end she sort of did a bit, but as a whole she showed how much getting pregnant changes things. I definitely think teenage girls should read this book. It makes its point but doesn’t preach about it.

Book 33: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Page Count: 202
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 5/10

Summary:
Noelle’s life is far from perfect. Her mother ignores her. She never has enough to eat. Her boyfriend doesn’t want to be seen in public with her. She’s constantly bullied. And the guy she really wants to be with can never be hers. She can’t wait for her real life to start – until someone takes the bullying too far, and Noelle realizes that maybe it’s time to start taking control of her life now.

Opinion:
I wanted to like this book. I was never really bullied in school, but I know what it’s like to have no friends and sit alone at lunch, so I had high hopes for this book, even if I hadn’t enjoyed the last one that I read by Colasanti. I will give her credit for not having the same romantic plotline as in the last two books that I read. There were also some parts of the book that I enjoyed.

As a whole, though, I felt like this book was lacking. The first three quarters of the book is practically nothing but a detailed account of how miserable Noelle’s life is. I hated her mother. I hated the people at her school. I even hated her at times. I can understand staying with a guy who treats you badly because you feel that no one else would want you, but she clearly has another guy who wants her – and it’s the guy she actually likes – so I found that whole relationship really frustrating, even after she admits the real reason she was scared to date him. I also don’t like that she was just handed a job as co-editor of the literary magazine.

It’s not until the very end of the book that she starts telling the truth and going after what she wants, and by that point I just feel like Colasanti comes on a bit too strong with her message of “bullying is bad and you can’t let them get to you and things will get better.” Colasanti has said that she drew on her own experiences writing this novel, and I can understand why she would feel passionately about the message that she’s trying to convey, but I just feel the ending was a bit much. I didn’t want to read about Noelle yelling me how to live my life. I would have rather seen her learn for herself. A simple “I couldn’t let them bother me” would have been better than “you can’t let them bother you,” at least in my opinion.

I suppose this might be a good book for teenagers who are feeling suicidal. For me, though, it was a bit heavy-handed and not all that pleasant to read about as a whole.

Book 32: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Page Count: 387
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult science fiction

Rating: 10/10

Summary:
A cyborg . A plague that kills everyone who contracts it. An evil moon queen. A charming prince. A missing princess. A planet on the brink of war. You think you know the story of Cinderella, but this novel takes the story so much further.

Opinion:
I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this novel when I first heard about it. I’ve never been drawn to stories of cyborgs, but something about this novel intrigued me. I’m so glad I read it. There’s not a single thing I can find to complain about. Cinder, a sixteen-year-old cyborg with no memory of life before she had her surgery, lives with a stepmother who hates her. She’s a very believable character, and you can’t help but feel for her when things don’t work out her way. Prince Kai was cute and amusing, though believable, given everything that he’s had to deal with. I liked the romance with these two. They talk and tease each other, and I could understand what each saw in the other. Each of their fears and reactions to certain events seemed realistic, as well, which isn’t always the case. It was nice to read.

I loved the side characters, as well. Iko was adorable. Peony and Pearl had their own distinct personalities, and her stepmother was cruel and despicable, but in completely believable way. She’s horrible, but you can sort of pity her and understand why she does what she does. All of the characters made sense to me. They had different layers, which was nice. I’ve seen many retellings of Cinderella in my life, mostly as a small child, and I’ve never seen one with this much depth to it.

I can’t even really put into words how much I liked this book. I stayed up until almost 3 last night reading it, and even then I only stopped reading because my boyfriend wanted to sleep. I’m sad that I’m finished with it. I think I love the book even more because it started as a NaNo novel – so not only is it a great story, but also it’s inspiring. Apparently each book in this four-book series is based on a different fairy tale. I’m excited to see how the series continues.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is the Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books.

This is a hard list for me to make, because I generally skip over scenery details in books. However, I skipped last week’s list, and I didn’t want to skip two in a row, so I’ve decided to do my best with this one. I’ve decided to go with the top books where I could most clearly visualize the characters’ surroundings, even if I didn’t necessarily get such descriptions from the books. I have a hard time remembering which details come from the books and which come from my imagination. All the books on this list either feature words different from ours, or are set in our world/time period but really got my imagination working.

1. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
I don’t think this one really needs an explanation. Hogwarts. Hogsmeade. The Ministry of Magic. The Burrow. Even Privet Drive. There are so many settings in this series that it would be impossible not to include it on this list.

2. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
This series, too, is full of terrific scenery. Each of the different districts of Panem. The Capitol. The arenas. Interesting how a country can start out as our world and become so different.

3. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
I haven’t read this series in a few years, but I remember that the setting was fantastic. I could definitely picture these settings while I read.

4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
This novel has a contemporary setting, but I couldn’t help but add it to the list. All while I was reading, I couldn’t help but picture all of the settings mentioned, and I don’t always do that with novels. Even now, after I have finished the novel, I still have a clear picture in my head of what this town looks like. I couldn’t not add this book to the list.

5. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Cities covered in ash. A world where green trees are considered strange and where flowers are a thing of the past. It’s hard not to picture the world in this novel.

6. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Another contemporary novel, but there’s enough of the past thrown in that it’s not completely our world. You can picture this little town where Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactors battle each other.

7. Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
Modern-day Chicago mixed with the Nevernever and all the demons and fairies associated with it. It’s hard not to picture all of the different settings in this series, particularly the worlds outside of Chicago.

8. Sarah Dessen’s collected works
These books aren’t exactly a series, but enough of the characters’ storylines are intertwined that I’ve decided to treat them as such anyway. There are two main high schools mentioned in this series, as well as Colby, the small beach town that so many of the characters have visited. With each new book, you learn more about these areas, and it’s just incredible.

9. The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling
Another fantasy series that creates a vivid world for us to explore with the characters.

10. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
I’ve only read a few books in this series, but I can definitely picture the world that they live in.

 

Not really the best list that I’ve ever made for the Top Ten, but I suppose this has helped make me think about how to treat settings in my own novels. Most people think of world building as something that fantasy and sci-fi writers have to think about more than contemporary writers do, but I don’t think that’s the case. Several of the books on this list, the ones that made me picture the settings more clearly than anything else, were books set in present-day America. Just because a book is set in the present-day doesn’t mean that setting isn’t just as important.

Book 31: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Page Count: 470
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 10/10

Summary:
What would you do if you only had one day to live? Many people think about it, but Samantha Kingston actually has to decide. She gets seven chance to relive her last day. What does she do, what does she learn, and is she too late to save herself?

Opinion:
At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. The main character, Samantha, and her friends get into a car accident, and the main character dies. That’s the opening of the novel. Then she gets to relive her last day for a week, and we get to learn more about her. After watching the first two days, I have to admit I was sort of glad that she had died. She was obnoxious. Her friends were obnoxious. They torment people for no real reason (or at least not a good reason), and they’re just, well, mean. I know these books are supposed to make us understand that the popular kids have bad lives, too, and that that’s supposed to somehow justify the way they treat others, but I’ve never bought into that. I don’t feel sorry for Samantha because her boyfriend’s lousy. I think she’s an idiot for sticking with him. I really spent the first half of the book hating all the main characters and hoping that they all died in that car accident, not just Samantha.

And yet I kept reading.

That shows how great Lauren Oliver is as a writer: I could hate the main characters and still not want to put the book down. For me, that’s saying something. I almost stopped reading Jane Eyre and Huck Finn in high school because certain scenes were too much for me to handle. I only kept reading those because I knew my grade would suffer if I didn’t. No one was forcing me to read this book, and yet I wanted to keep reading, even through the hard-to-stomach parts.

Part of that is because I like the way it was written. There’s just enough description for you to picture what she’s talking about with there being so much that I had to skim paragraphs, like I sometimes do with novels (*cough*LordoftheRings*cough*). I particularly liked that she described the sky on two different occasions, and the way the same sky looks different to her on those days really helps show how much she’s changing. There were also some parts that I could relate to, which was nice and unexpected. I also loved how we kept seeing the same day over and over again but that we learned more details about that day as we went on.

There were a few parts of the book that I didn’t like. Samantha does something at the end of the book that she thinks will be nice and I don’t really understand how she would think that. I guess that just goes to show how clueless she is sometimes. But the only main problem I had with the book were the random asides to the audience where we were beaten over head with the message (everyone’s nasty sometimes/tomorrow’s not a guarantee, so change your life today, while you can/appreciate the little things). Oliver does a great job at showing us those messages in the actual story. We don’t really need them to be told to us like that.

Other than that, though, I loved the book. The last half of the book changed my mind about wanting Samantha to die. I couldn’t put the book down. This book made me cry while I was reading it and after I was finished with it, and any book that makes me keep crying after I finish it automatically gets extra points, as not every book can affect me like that. This book also gets extra points because I don’t usually change my mind about characters that I hate with that much passion, especially popular people who make others miserable. Oliver even made me not hate certain side characters as much, which I never thought was possible given what these characters have done.

I loved this book. I definitely recommend this novel.

Editing, learning, and shopping

It’s funny – I keep getting excited when I see back-to-school sales because that means I can stock up on pens and notebooks really cheaply. It wasn’t until I was at the store today that I remembered that I’m actually going back to school this fall. It was so weird. I ended up getting a folder and notebook for each of my classes (color coded, of course). It was fun. Way more fun than getting my back-to-school shot was. It’s ridiculous: if I wasn’t going back to school, no one would care if I had a TB test done – so why does it matter now that I’m going back? But whatever. I have more important things to think about.

Like the fact that I’ve cut 4,460 words from Tilt so far, and I’ve only edited the first twelve chapters. I’m no longer freaking out about the fact that I liked too much of it. I completely rewrote chapter 9 and rewrote large sections of 7 and 8. I also added a bunch to 10 and 11, so that helps show how much I’ve cut out if I can add whole paragraphs and still have cut so many words. It’s currently just over 97k right now, and I’m about a third of the way through the novel.

Once April starts looking for a job, the novel goes downhill. I’m learning that I don’t really like scenes where she’s all alone, at least not for more than a couple of pages. I’ve started including a few more scenes with her and her boyfriend’s families, which helps move the story along in a more interesting way. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to just have her talk to someone about how she can’t find a job, rather than showing her sitting on her bed thinking about how she doesn’t have a job. Scenes like that are important, but they can’t be half the novel.

I’ve also learned that sometimes I think I need to rewrite a paragraph when really I just need to delete it. I can’t get over how many times I’ve started to think about how to best remove a paragraph without messing up the flow of the story, only to discover that they actually flow perfectly without that missing paragraph. I also can’t just add things because I want that information in the story. I’ve found myself doing that sometimes, too: I want to include a fact in the novel, so I try to tack in onto the end of a paragraph, and it doesn’t work. Each time I’ve stopped myself from doing that, I’ve ended up with a better way of fitting it in later, so it’s good to know that patience can actually be a good thing when writing.

On a related but different note, the other day I was going through my old files, trying to find my immunization records. While I was looking, I found my report card from first grade. Each marking period, my teacher would make some comment about how much I loved reading and how I much the class liked the stories I would come up with and how I was starting to write my own stories instead of just reading them. I’ve always thought that I started writing in second grade. That’s when they gave us blank books to fill in with our stories. That’s when my friend Miranda and I started writing about polio and unicorns (not at the same time). It was interesting to see that I had actually started earlier. 🙂

Right now I should be working on the next chapter, but I’m still torn on what to do with 13. April has to take a copy editing test, and there’s one word that trips her up. I’m not sure what that word should be, and I can’t decide if I should show the actual paragraph that she has to edit (and the one that she has to rewrite), or if I should just summarize what she’s doing. I don’t really feel like writing them, but I also don’t want to not include something and feel like I’m not showing enough detail. Once again, this is where I’m not sure how much detail is too much detail.  I also need to think of a compound word that’s really just one word but which April could realistically think was two words. Yes, this scene is based on something I did in real life, but I can’t for the life of me remember the word that I messed up on, so I’m having issues with this scene. Any opinions on this issue (either about what the word could be or if I should show the actual test she takes) would be appreciated.

On an unrelated note, I went dress shopping with my sister today. Her 21st birthday is tomorrow, and Saturday she’s having a party where everyone’s supposed to dress up. I didn’t end up finding a dress, but I did get a new pair of black pants, four dressy shirts, and a skirt, so I still consider it a win. Now I could actually go a solid week dressing up without having to re-wear a shirt. Not that I need to now, as I have a uniform at work, but having more than two nice shirts will come in handy when I’m teacher…assuming this degree actually leads to a job. 😀

Book 30: Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti

I meant to write a post about editing today, but then I went to the library and checked out six new books (bringing my total number of books checked out to ten), so I figured I should focus on finishing up a book and getting the review out of the way. The editing will continue tomorrow. And now, onto the review:

Title: Waiting for You
Author: Susane Colasanti
Page Count: 320
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 6/10

Summary:
Marisa knows she should be happy. She has parents who love her and each other, and a best friend whom she can tell anything to. So when she starts dating the boy of her dreams, she should be ecstatic. So why isn’t she? Why are her parents acting so strange? Why is her best friend getting annoyed with her all of a sudden? And why is she finding herself drawn to the boy she recently rejected?

Opinion:
I had high hopes for this novel. I’ve never read a book about a girl with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve wanted to for some time. I wouldn’t say that I have any such disorder, but sometimes I think I’m as close as you can get without actually having it, so I wanted to see how I would relate to such a character. And there were definitely times like I really felt that I could relate to Marisa. For instance, I loved the fact that she can never sleep the night before the first day of school and how she always gets excited about how she’s going to reinvent herself but never actually does. That pretty much describes every fall for me. I also loved how much she hates confrontation. I’m the same way – I just hold everything in until I want to scream. It was nice seeing that in a character.

Warning: some spoilers follow

Sadly, that’s about the extent of my enjoyment of this novel. Perhaps it’s simply because I just finished another book by Colasanti, but I found the entire plot a bit…boring. Girl crushes on guy – girl gets guy – girl realizes she actually likes a boy who she previously rejected. Maybe I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read it before I read So Much Closer, but as it is, I found this one lacking. There was a while in the middle where I had to force myself to keep reading. It picked up a bit at the end, but I wasn’t as drawn into the book as I have been with others.

I think part of my problem with this book was that everything was just so obvious. Her parents aren’t holding hands anymore and her dad’s side of the closet seems emptier than normal. Gee, I wonder what that could mean. And then one of her parents is cheating, and she assumes it’s her father, even though it was obvious that it wasn’t. And Nash likes her, and she’s taken by surprise. Oddly enough, I thought each of those events (the separation, the affair, the crush) was going to be a “big reveal” at the end – and yet each were revealed fairly early on in the novel. So they were predictable events revealed at an unpredictable time. I guess that’s better than predictable events revealed at a predictable time – such as the identity of Dirty Dirk, which I won’t reveal in this review but which I highly doubt anyone saw coming.

I understand that readers generally pick up on things before the characters do, but it would have been nice if we had to dig a bit to find that information. Maybe I’m just a cynic who is more surprised when her parents are getting along than when they’re fighting, but I just couldn’t understand how she was blind-sighted by so many things.

The last thing that bothered me was some of the language used. I understand that this book is marketed for teenagers, but I got really tired of reading phrases like “and she was all ‘blah blah blah'” and “and he was like, ‘Whatev.'” I have seen such phrases used sporadically in a way that I can handle, but that was not the case this time.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book. It wouldn’t be at the top of my recommendation list, and I certainly wouldn’t pick it up to read again, but I can’t really say that I’m sorry I read it at all. Perhaps fifteen-year-olds would be able to relate to it more.