#49 Crapometer

Synopsis of Finding Yesterday Upper middle grade/YA

Most moments in time pass unnoticed. Until it's a moment you wish you could change. Kyle Caroll and Jason Bishop, best friends since they were four, have spent countless moments together. When Kyle accidentally kills Jason with a gun they find, this moment becomes frozen in time. Kyle begins to obsess with the idea that he can return to "yesterday" October 16 -- the day his world shattered.

Kyle goes through a Disposition in the juvenile court system and is sentenced to three years parole. (you mean probation-parole is when you are release from prison early). His life becomes a series of psychology sessions with “Dr. Moo-Moo” and meetings with his lawyer and Parole Officer. School becomes a nightmare. His parents fight constantly. Mel, his sister, won't even speak to him. He can't bring himself to face the Bishop family, wishing they had sent him away forever; wishing he was the one who had been killed.

When Kyle fails all of his classes, he is forced to study with Crabby Crogan the old high school librarian, feared and hated by all students. The library, though, becomes an unlikely refuge for Kyle. Mr. Crogan introduces Kyle to a world of books, and Kyle learns that books are forever. When he catches up on his schoolwork, he begins to read everything he can, hoping he'll find the answer “the thing that will make sense out of everything that has happened.”

Kyle can't get what Mrs. Bishop said to him at the funeral out of his mind. "You did this. You did this. What will you do to bring him back, Kyle? You're the one that took him away,” Afraid his memories of Jason are slipping away, Kyle begins to write everything down about Jason's life, keeping Jason alive with words.

“I decided that from then on, I'd write down everything I remembered because it's weird the stuff you forget, you know? Like try to remember how somebody sounded when they laughed or spoke; somebody you haven't seen for a few months. See, it's hard. It's like everything about that person gets erased.”

Months pass, and Kyle slips into a routine of reading, writing, and hiding in the library. Everything seems like it's getting better until the letters from the Bishop family start to come. Kyle has never been able to face the Bishops since he killed Jason. (you’ve already said this) He refuses to open the letters because each letter reminds him of what he did and how he can never make it better. He writes more and more, filling his journal up with Jason. The journal and Jason become an obsession.

“Every day the journal weighed me down more and more. Each page was filled with him; everything about him. I was trying to bury a dead person, in words, in memories, in stories. But it didn't work. It couldn't work because, in the end, nothing changed. Jason was everywhere. I killed him, but he never went away.”

Throughout the year, Mr. Crogan talks about a book that could make a difference to Kyle “a book that might have the answers. " At the end of the school year Mr. Crogan hands Kyle another journal - a journal for Kyle to write about his own life and his own memories.

“I looked at the new journal. It seemed too easy to fill an empty book with words - with memories. But what did I have that could fill those pages. Who was I if I wasn't Jason Bishop's best friend? Jason Bishop's killer? Jason Bishop's memory keeper? Who could I be without Jason? I won't know what to write.”

Mr. C looked really sad all of sudden. He rubbed his temples. His eyes clouded over. “Don't die with Jason.”

"What do I do with this, though?” I held out Jason. I held out the journal and its heavy pages.

Almost 8 months have passed since October 16 -- yesterday -- the day that Kyle killed Jason. And finally he's ready to face the Bishop family, ask for forgiveness, and begin to live again. Kyle goes to the Bishop's home, heart pounding, journal in hand.

"For a moment, I thought about running away, but some force kept me on that porch. I looked up and saw that Mrs. Bishop had lost weight. Her cheeks sagged a little. I knew I had done that to her."

"My hands trembled, holding out the tattered notebook filled with Jason. "I'm so sorry,” I whispered. "This was the best I could do to bring him back"

She wrapped me in her arms. "I've been waiting for you."

This is a good concept but the execution would need some work before I’d want to read it. First, I’d want to see much more about someone other than Jason and Kyle and the librarian. I’d like to see a stuff about Kyle’s sister particularly.

And I’d like to see Kyle have more than one emotion.

Snippets of dialogue in a synopsis can work, but first person POV thoughts are hard to punctuate clearly enough that I know who’s talking. There’s nothing wrong with telling rather than showing in a synopsis, the exact reverse of the rule for the novel itself.


Anatidaeling said...

Not so happy with the crabby librarian stereotype, but whatever.

"How do I atone for causing someone's death?" Interesting, deep, meaningful question. Kyle finds a way that will work for the readers reading his story and the literacy-minded adults who buy this book for the kids in their lives/classrooms/libraries. See how another writer approaches this theme in Whirligig by Paul Fleischman.

Demented M said...

Poignant. I liked it.

Good luck with it.


Bonnie Calhoun said...

When he handed the mom the journal, I misted up!

You know how to draw on emotion, that's part of the battle. Good luck with it. I hope you make it!

Bernita said...

Have the feeling this is probably a brilliant book.
But I couldn't bear to read it.

Deirdre said...

To me, the subject matter makes it YA rather than midgrade. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I read a book recently that this reminded me of. A girl whose brother died of a terminal disease when she was a toddler gets to know him through a journal that he wrote to her when he learned he was dying. She gets the journal when she's a teenager. I enjoyed that book, and I think I'd read this one, too, as it addresses the theme of "how do I show that I value you when you are gone" and emphasizes the power of the written word. Carry on!