Monday, November 4, 2013

First Impressions - Life is a Tongue Twister

Our second First Impression of the month comes from Robin Hall over at Robin Writes. She gave us GUTTER GIRL last month. This time it's LIFE IS A TONGUE TWISTER, an MG book. My comments will be in purple and do go see what Dianne Salerni thought about this first page.

Ruby woke long before her Hello Kitty alarm beeped. Watching the pink flip-down numbers turn to 5:21, she knocked it from her nightstand. Maybe this time it would crash into a million billion pieces and her brother Brian wouldn’t be able to fix it. Her brain felt like a boa constrictor was squeezing it and that at any second it would forget to tell her heart to pump, her lungs to breathe.
Today was happening without her permission. Today Ruby wouldn’t sit next to her best friend Olivia in the back of Mrs. Newton’s white Durango. Today, she’d ride the Yellow Whale. The bus that swallowed kids whole then spit them out by the cafetorium. I wonder why things are not following their normal pattern...
Ruby couldn’t get Brian’s jab out of her mind. “The only place you’ll be okay is sitting with the bus driver.” The one thing she knew for certain was that she couldn’t sit with the driver. If Ruby designed buses they’d have individual seats so no one could sit together, even if they wanted to. This is an odd thing for her to think and why did Brian say that?
Ruby sat up, the boa constrictor wriggling down to her vocal folds. Her underarms felt clammy. She never remembered to use that deodorant Mom gave her, but today she would lather it on.
Charlie, the neighbor’s hound, started singing his lament. She felt like Charlie, but she doubted her throat would let her talk without stuttering, much less sing. It was the worst day in her life and she hadn’t even gotten out of bed. Now I'm really curious. What makes this worst day?
Her stomach rumbled, a reminder of last night’s dinner of overcooked spaghetti and slimy canned peas. How she detested those peas. But right now, if she could eat a whole can and never have to ride the bus, she would choke them down—even without the butter. Ruby peeled back the sheets, admitting today might as well start now.
It was weird being the first in the kitchen, turning on all the lights, the table bare, no cereal bowls with grapefruit halves next to each one. Wanting today to be as normal as possible, Ruby set the table herself. 

Turning the blinds on the kitchen window, the soft, fuzzy gray sky peeked through. Soon the whole house would wake up. Mom would be glad Ruby set the table and think what a wonderful girl she was. Ruby straightened the spoon by her mother’s bowl and nodded to herself, certain that would do the trick. The trick of making mom think what a wonderful girl she was?

This is an interesting beginning. Ruby, a girl who hates her Hello Kitty alarm is about to have the worst day of her life and I have no idea why. I also have no idea why she would want to design buses so no one can sit with anyone else. I don't read a whole lot of MG but I'm definitely curious about Ruby and what's going to happen. This is also how a book should begin - imo - with something curious about to happen to a character I'm interested in.  
But what do you think? Does this beginning work for you? Are you interested in Ruby?


  1. I love love love the minutae of this beginning. It's definitely setting the reader up for something.... I think it flowed beautifully too and I couldn't believe it ended! I wanted to read more! Yay!!!

    Thanks for sharing! Take care

  2. Obviously she doesn't get the safety of a ride to school and fears being picked on riding the bus. Why is a good question though.

  3. I'm also curious about Ruby and what's going to happen. I could feel myself worrying about it, too.

  4. I'm curious too. I loved all the details.

  5. Happened to visit Dianne first, today. Left my comments over there. Nice suggestions, Marcy. Best of luck to Robin.

  6. Thanks for your suggestions, all. This is my first MG, and a new start to my novel, so it is great to have so much feedback! I <3 First Impressions!

  7. I loved this beginning. I identify with Ruby, and I want to find out what happens to her.

  8. Jesse Pinkman had a Hello Kitty telephone in Breaking Bad.

  9. Yes, yes, yes, this beginning definitely works for me.

  10. If I had a Hello, Kitty alarm clock, I think I'd want it to break, too :)

  11. I think it's a great opening - many mysteries to be revealed, yet we already have some key glimpses into the character.


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