Monday, June 1, 2015

First Impressions - Wild Ginger



Wow, here it is June already and the warm weather has finally arrived. I finally got to wear shorts again! Anyway, it's time for First Impressions and today we have WILD GINGER from Valerie Hobbs, an adult contemporary. Authors Dianne Salerni and Krystalyn Drown will also be critiquing this fist page so do go see what their thoughts are. My thoughts will be at the end, mostly.





There were times living with her parents when Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lessing has had to be the grownup, or at least feels as if she does. Like right now on the Big Island of Hawaii as their tiny rental car passes a sign on the side of the road. “Hey, you guys,” she says. “We’re driving into a volcano. Did you see that sign?”
Her mother laughs. “Not into it, honey. Not exactly. Nothing to worry about.”
Lizzie thought about the day her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Sylvester, did his amazing volcano imitation. “Kaboom” he cried, leaping into the air, sending them all into shrieks and fits of laughter. “Is it active?”
Lizzie’s father, too big for their rented car, hulks over the steering wheel. “Kilauea is an active volcano all right,” he says. “If we’re lucky we’ll get to see some lava.”
Her parents are crazy. Always chasing after some new “folly,” Lizzie’s grandmother says. But nothing seems to work. Lessing Cake and Coffee had attracted only flies. Lessing Laundry went belly up when a fancier one opened on the next block. There were penny stocks and bubble gum machines, a dog washing service and Mack Of All Trades home repairs. Her father finally took a job as a manager at Burger King but lost it in a week. 
And now there is this new thing her mother had spotted on a real estate flyer. “Old plantation house surrounded by  lush vegetation, perfect for a bed and breakfast”. The flyer had no picture.
***


My thoughts: The first paragraph starts out,  "There were times living with her parents when Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lessing has had to be the grownup, or at least feels as if she does." There are three different tenses being used here, past-tense, past-perfect, and present. I found this confusing and might consider changing this sentence so: "There were times when Lizzie Lessing felt she was the only grown up in the family." I might then launch into the explanation as to why Lizzie feels this with the brief description of her parents' failed enterprises, before finishing up with the last sentence: "And now there is this new thing her mother had spotted on a real estate flyer. “Old plantation house surrounded by  lush vegetation, perfect for a bed and breakfast”. The flyer had no picture." I'm guessing this is what the story is going to be about so the sooner we get to that the better. I'm also a little curious as to Lizzie's age. Is she still in sixth grade or older now? Lastly I'm going to question whether present tense is the best tense to tell this story. It feels/sounds awkward but maybe that's just because of the beginning paragraph or maybe it's because I'm accustomed to present tense stories told from a first person pov. That said, I'm very intrigued by the old plantation house - in Hawaii no less! Readers, what do you think?



A huge thank you to Valerie for submitting her first page and I'll be back on Wednesday with another First Impressions :)


7 comments:

  1. The tense is rather awkward. I like the setup though. Bad place for a bed and breakfast.

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  2. As always, Marcy did a great job. I agree about the tense being awkward, and I also agree that the bed and breakfast flyer is very intriguing. I'd want to read more for that. Definitely get to that quickly! Best of luck with your book!

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  3. Snap on the tenses. I suspect a bed and breakfast could do well there. Lots of people going for a look. Insurance might break them though...
    Summer? I just checked, It is minus 5,5C here at the moment. When the sun comes up it will be bright, crisp and clear. No shorts though.

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  4. I agree about getting to the B+B more quickly, it does sound intriguing. No picture and "lush vegetation" described makes me picture it being completely overgrown! It could be a great image and afterwards she could list the failed enterprises - then the reader will be like "hmm, what's going to go wrong..."

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  5. I'm definitely intrigued by the house! I agree on the tenses and in fact, I would suggest trying to throw out as many of the "to be" verbs as possible to make it snappier. I'm guessing that Lizzie is anywhere between 13 and 15 years old in age.

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  6. Marcy did a great job with her critique!

    For my two cents, I think the premise sounds awesome and so do the supporting characters! However, the main character's voice sounds MG to me (especially with the "Kaboom" from the teacher memory). Also, I feel there's too much backstory for a first page. It would be better if the visitation to the volcano were written with more showing and less telling. Show the parents' negligence rather than explain how many times their businesses have failed. Time enough to weave in those details later. Good luck!

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