Monday, March 29, 2010

Grab-A-Line Monday (a focus on Jordan Sonnenblick)

After the frivolity of my last post, I will now go back to my normal serious self. *Makes serious face...then busts out laughing.*

It's Monday! Seriousness is not allowed on Mondays! (I'll be serious tomorrow, seriously. I've already written the post, it's about voice, and you know a post about voice can have no silliness.)

I read the following in Jordan Sonnenblick's After Ever After . It's from the point-of-view of a thirteen year old boy who is completely smitten with the new girl. He sits behind her in class and has been admiring her beautiful neck when she said something funny:

I laughed. How could someone with such a perfect neck be so funny, too? Somewhere in the world, there had to be an eighth-grade girl with no neck who still told knock-knock jokes and wondered why the world was so cruel.

I laughed, as well.

Back to our regular Grab-A-Line-Monday programming. Last week,
Sherrie came over with this opening line to Stormbreaker, the first novel in the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz:

When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it's never good news.

Speaking of Sherrie, she did a great interview with Jordan Sonnenblick. And since GALM is a little on the slim side this week, I thought I'd tell you what I know about him as well.

I picked up Drum, Girls, and Dangerous Pies because I was trying to find out more about an editor who was judging my middle grade novel in a contest. In an interview, she mentioned she liked this book, so I dutifully checked it out from the library. Duty might have been the original motivation for me to read this book, but it had nothing to do with why I inhaled and loved it. I have to resort to a cliched answer here: it made me laugh and cry. A longer reason is that it was written with such a big heart and such authenticity, I couldn't help but become involved in the story.

So then, I did something I'd never done before; I contacted the author. He replie
d the next
day, really gracious and friendly.

I just finished After Ever After, and once again, laughed and cried as I read it. No
w, before you entertain the suspicion that it is yet another futile attempt to bank on the success of the original and therefore not very good, (you have seen Godfather II, haven't you?) you should (a) know that Sonnenblick resisted the idea initially, and (b) go read it.

Then come back and we'll discuss what you think. And don't put down the book just because it seems to start three times: a prologue of sorts, and then an end (I know, an end at the beginning?), and the real beginning.

I found that what I enjoyed the most in Drums are found in AEA as well:
  • a close relationship (between Steven and his little brother, Jeffrey, in Drums,Jeffrey and his friend Tad in AEA)
  • the easy humor
Drums is told by the eighth grader Steven, and AEA by Jeffrey as an eighth-grader. Both stories feature cancer prominently but neither is merely a cancer book. Character and plot, the king and queen of fiction, drive the story.

I'll end this post with another quote from After Ever After, which describes my current phase with my middle grade novel. Jeffrey is on a 50-mile charity biking event, and this is how he describes the last stretch:

It was my favorite part of a long ride: when you're already tired and crampy, but you're more than halfway done. And it would be so easy to tumble off your bike into the grass and quit. but you know you won't.

What caught you this week?


Solvang Sherrie said...

What a great post!

I loved Drums so much I made my 10yo read it too. Then I went out and bought every other Sonnenblick book I could find :D

I haven't read AEA yet, but I know I will. I think he is such a great writer!

Bish Denham said...

Oh! So many books to read! I wish sometimes I could speed read so I could read more, more, and more books!

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh boy, another book for my ginormous TBR pile. This one looks too good to pass up!

Yat-Yee said...

Sherrie: I am afraid to let my young 'un read it yet because the emotions are so strong and she is so sensitive to people in pain and sorrow. But when I think she's tough enough, I'll hand it to her.

Bish: I know what you mean. I read pretty fast, but still not fast enough! Plus sometimes after I finish a good book, I don't feel like jumping into another one.

Lisa and Laura: welcome to my blog! Yes, those tottering TBR piles can be scary!