Friday, September 2, 2011

first impressions - Unbreakable

Here’s the first page of Katie Loud’s novel, Unbreakable. You can find her here. My comments are in purple. Dianne's can be found on her blog.

(Susy; Emerson, NH; September, 2006)

            I felt revulsion toward my son today. This is a pretty strong opening. I wonder if you want to use the word revulsion tight off, before we find out what Seth has done to earn this feeling. Just asking though.
            There have been times in the past that Seth (and, to be fair, his siblings) has upset me … but never anything like this. 
            Never before have I been unsure I wanted to lay claim to him. To disown one’s own child…it seems he would have to do something really horrific to deserve this. Did he? 
            “He’s only twelve,” my husband told me when I called his cell in near-hysterics.  “He doesn’t get it.”  He let me rant for another minute before interrupting to say that he was calling the school as soon as he hung up to request that he be called first in the event of further disciplinary issues concerning our children.
            Of course, I started laughing.  “That isn’t funny.” I’m not sure why she’s laughing. Is it because she’s overwhelmed by what has happened? Or maybe it’s the ‘of course’ I object to. We hardly know Susy yet.
      “Yeah, I’m getting the impression that you really feel that way,” he said soberly, only making me laugh harder.  “Okay, I’m in the middle of a meeting, but I’ll be home in a couple of hours.”
            “Is there any way you could pick the kids up from school?”
            “Sure, no problem.”  He paused for a minute.  “Honestly, Susy, it really isn’t that big a deal.”
            “No, it wouldn’t be to you,” I said, more sharply than I’d intended.
            He didn’t say anything for a long second.  “You’re not implying …”
            “What, that you’d ever refer to a scholarship student as welfare trash?  That you’d use the word spic?  No, I know you wouldn’t.  That’s the thing, we’ve raised a kid willing to bully someone because of their race or socioeconomic status.” Is this what Seth has done? Bully someone? Admittedly awful, but as someone who has been on the receiving end I’m still not sure it warrants revulsion. But again, just my opinion. And of course, maybe there’s more than bullying…this is just the first page here.
           “He’s a good kid, and I’m not making excuses.  I’m probably more upset about this than you are.”
           “You just keep the histrionics out of it, right?”
           I could hear the smile in his voice.  “You said it, I didn’t.  Seriously, I have to go, Suse.  Eddie just came out and tapped his watch for the third time.”

Well, I’m definitely interested to find out just exactly what Seth has done and whether Susy and her husband can work this out together. It sounds like she’s taking it seriously and he’s not. And of course, there’s the question of why Seth is bullying. Is he feeling powerless? Is he acting alone? And what about the kid he bullied? Definitely an intriguing beginning. Great dialogue.


  1. Nice critique, Marcy. I've already read the piece over on Dianne's blog. ;D

  2. I'm not sure about revulsion, exactly, but I would be absolutely furious if I found out my child used a racial slur at school. Or anywhere for that matter.

  3. Wandered over from Dianne's blog. The word revulsion definitely tells me there history here if only because its such a powerful word. We know bullying can be a terrible thing. There have been enough news reports about kids who've been driven to suicide (or school shootings) because of it. Did the mc know someone who'd been a victim and therefore have strong emotions against bullies? I think the word revulsion (while risky) could work, depending upon where the story's going.

    I don't get why the mom laughs. If it's a bitter or out of control kind of laugh, the reader should see it. It made me wonder, especially when the husband said he would have any future call sent to him, if the mc is emotionally fragile. Is her response to the situation appropriate.

    Very intriguing. I'd keep reading.

  4. Yay :-) Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Hmm, I wonder where the kid picked it up from. Great job critiquing btw. It is so helpful to writers to have someone else look at their work. :)

  6. I wrote a post expressing my appreciation :-)

  7. Sheri, thanks :)

    Matt, oh I would be furious, too.

    Donna, I agree with you about the laughing, it struck me as odd altho, to be fair, some people do laugh at inappropriate moments and maybe that's what was happening. We are after all, only on the first page...

    Laila, yes, exactly. That's what I would wonder if I was the mom.

  8. I'd be ticked to the hilt and there would be a lot to answer for but revulsion and disowning are a bit much.
    I didn't get the idea he husband didn't care. I think a lot comes into play here. If you deal with someone who overreacts regularly you try to cool the situation. Also, he is in a place where he's not a liberty to react strongly.

    All in all, Marcy, good work by both you and Katie.

    Happy Weekend.

  9. I have no idea what kind of book this is - I'm guessing adult. That being said, I think the writing is quick and the dialogue good.
    I agree I'd be devastated at finding out my child was a bully. I don't think (based on the words here) that revulsion is the right word though. As a mother, perhaps heartbroken, angry, dissapointed? We really have no reference for the mother or the child. Also, is this the beginning of the story? Okay, it is. I'm not sure this is the right place to start.
    Certainly, I'm interested, though. And I love, love the title!
    Good luck!

  10. I especially LIKE the use of the word "revulsion." Talk about an attention-grabber! It's such an unexpected thing for a mother to say, so it immediately makes me want to read more.

  11. See? This is why I always say take my suggestions - or anyone's for that matter - with a grain of salt - because opinions vary. Dianne liked revulsion, too.

    thank you everyone who commented!


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