Our third and final first impression for this month comes from Angela Bigler. You can find her at Dream Big Words (great name, btw). This is the first page of her YA Magical Realism, THE MOTHER TREE. My comments will be in purple and you can read what Dianne Salerni thought of this opening here. As always, we especially appreciate comments on these first impressions as the more comments there are, the better the author can see what's working and what's not, so don't be shy :)
The Mother Tree
Rachel woke up late. Her sheets were balled up on the floor, kicked off in the humid night. She squinted her eyes as she shifted from dreaming to waking, called by the voice of a crow squawking outside.
She crawled out of bed and stretched over the windowsill to see a quick flash of black fly out from the oak tree. It had been waking her up all week. Was it crazy to think that crow was harassing her? She smelled her mom’s smoke signals rising up from the porch below. It meant her mom was awake, a good sign.
Rachel opened a dresser drawer and pulled on faded jean shorts and her green t-shirt. She looked into her mirror and smiled at her disheveled pile of short dark hair.I like this. Ordinarily having our characters look in the mirror is a big NO but this feels natural.
She found her cat lapping up a drink of water downstairs. “Good morning Luna.” Rachel scooped her up as she studied the calendar on the wall, the summer spread out ahead of her. It seemed strange that high school was really over. Luna purred for a moment, then wriggled her way out and jumped down. “Fine. Be that way.” Rachel called after her.
Rachel's mom sat on the porch
was sitting on the porch.
Her eyes looked dark, heavy rings pooling underneath. She was imprinting
feverish loops into the pages of her leather journal. At least she was writing
again. Rachel watched as her mom looked up and closed it.
“Good morning.” She motioned for Rachel to come closer and started brushing Luna’s black fur off of her shirt. “Are you working today?”
“No, Aunt Sandy took the day off. She said I should too.”
“Are you up for a hike?”
“Yeah.” Rachel felt like hugging her but pulled back. Was she really going to act like nothing had happened? Ooh, what happened?!
“Let me finish my coffee. I’ll be getting breakfast started soon.” Her mom pulled another cigarette out of her pack and inhaled deeply as she leaned into the flame. “Okay?”
“Okay.” Rachel felt a rush of hope. It had been weeks since her mom had wanted to do anything. Out of nowhere she had decided to take a break from working, spending long hours in her bed. Rachel could hear her crying inside her room. Aunt Sandy had come, administering tea and herbs, trying to bring her sister back to life. It seemed her mom had given up. But why? I want to know, too!!!
This is good. There really isn't much to comment on. In the first paragraph you could say that the sheets lay on the floor balled up and get rid of the passive 'was' but I don't think it would make a huge difference. I like the hints of something interesting/strange coming: the crow, the smoke signal, the feverish loops in the journal, and of course the mom's sudden lethargy. I want to know what happened to cause this and I want to know what that crow is trying to tell Rachel, because crows don't come calling at people's windows without reason. I would definitely read on.
What about you? Does this first page intrigue you? Care to add any comments or suggestions for Angela?