12.23.2006

HH Com 361

Three days before Jessie Parker starts sixth grade, her mother, an Army reservist, is unexpectedly deployed to Iraq for one year.

With her mother gone, Jessie is left to help her father care for toddler siblings, to manage an up-and-down relationship with a best friend, and, most pressing, to deal with Val Morano, a mean girl at school.

Remembering her promise to “be good,” Jessie tolerates Val’s bullying taunts — until she insults Jessie’s soldier mom. Jessie is torn between doing what she wants and doing what she knows is right. She decides to seek advice, but changes her mind after sneaking a peek at an email not intended for her. Desperate to match her mother’s bravery and independence, Jessie resolves to handle her problem on her own, in her own way… Proud and vulnerable, Jessie takes an emotional journey that parallels her mother’s physical one.

Told in first person narrative interspersed with emails to and from Iraq, Miss You is a parent-away-at-war story told from the perspective of the child left behind.

Yup, this works. Big time.

23 comments:

katharine swartz said...

Great idea... I love the interspersed e-mails thing. I'd like to know *a bit* more about how she handles her problem at school--there's a suggestion of negative consequences? And is this a mid-grade novel?

Well done, author.

Anonymous said...

Like the story, but wondering who it's appealing to--middle grade, YA, adult?

Adinda said...

Sounds good.... I'd read this!

jamiehall said...

Unlike many of the other hooks, you managed to keep the focus on the MC throughout. Every event tied into her life in a clear way.

Congrats!

Luc2 said...

I'm with Miss Snark most of the time, but this does little for me. It's well-written, and I can understand that this theme can seel, but it didn't hook me at all. It's not specific enough to grab me, especially the end of the 2nd paragraph.
But you got Miss Snark, and that's what counts here. Good luck!

M. Takhallus. said...

Professional work.

Anonymous said...

I adore this. Especially the promise to "be good" possibly being confused with "being walked on by the school bully" in the main character's mind.

I have nothing to do with the military, though I do live in a city with an army base.

I'd read this in a heartbeat.
Good luck to you. I hope it gets published.

shannon said...

I like "Jessie takes an emotional journey that parallels her mother's physical one."

The hook is well written, the main character definitely shows, and there's no irrelevant backstory clogging it up, but this isn't my type of book. I especially steer clear of books that include emails, even though they have largely replaced hand-written letters.

I'm puzzled, though, at who the intended audience would be. It didn't seem YA or younger, but then maybe the book is written in a different style (and that's not to say that adults can't read a book whose main character is a kid, of course). Just wondering.

SherryD said...

I'd read it. Middle grade, YA, whatever.

Anonymous said...

I love this. I want to buy this for my child.

Re: the language, most of the YA novels I've seen are written in teen-speak, but it would be nice to see something written for children/teens that doesn't condescend to them in that way.

Anonymous said...

Yep, this is pretty excellent.

Notice the high quality of MG/YA books here?

BernardL said...

I liked this hook, but the story would be tough to carry through a novel length work, without something more than 'should I beat up the bully, or not'. It made me want to read a few pages though. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

This is why I love MG/YA fiction. It's got some of the freshest voices. I would love to read this.

A Paperback Writer said...

I'm so glad it's her mom who's off to Iraq instead of the cliched mom-left-at-home-while-dad's-off-saving-the-world. Besides, having Dad as a care giver is a good un-stereotype, too.
I have plenty of teen girls where I teach who still think they have to grow up to be Donna Reed. I like books that make them think outside the 50s box.

December Quinn said...

Yeah, I think this is well-written and a good hook, but what happens? So somebody makes fun of Jessie's Mom, and Jessie doesn't know what to do? Either punch the girl or ignore it. I just don't see what big soul-journey Jessie's going on over that.

The writing is excellent, though. Good luck, though, author!

skybluepinkrose said...

Great job!

This is a middle grade novel.

If you're some other age and you're interested, don't let that stop you.

Anonymous said...

This just doesn't grab me. It parallels her mother's physical journey--but it's told in first-person from the child's view? I think the mental anguish from war is far greater than the physical anyway. Seeing a comrade's head blown off and the senseless violence would far surpass any angst this child could feel from an insult.

Sorry if this sounds mean, but I just can't wrap my mind around why this would be compelling. It feels like the very cliched army brat style of story.

aries said...

I really liked this hook and am looking forward to the pages. It's kind of funny how mentions of current events in previous hooks were panned (rightly so) but here it actually helps strengthen the hook. Maybe it's because the author doesn't use the Iraq War as a gimmick but instead to tell a story that's all too true for many children and teens now.

Ski said...

I would enjoy reading this. You come across as sensitive, and I'd bet that sensitiviey translates into this story. Good Luck.

Rgds...........Ski

Anonymous said...

I agree with December Quinn that dealing with a mean girl's taunts hardly parallels the horror of war. Nothing really happens in this story. Give Jessie a real problem at home. As offered here
her "emotional journey" is shallow.

chimeralife said...

This is excellent! I would definitely buy this for my girls.

The posters saying that the horrors of war are worse than the girl's mental anguish have obviously never been there.

The horrors of war are all mental. The rest is a job you turn off your feelings for to be able to accomplish.

A girl going through puberty has a heck of a lot of mental anguish. And to deal with her mom being in a war zone can only make it worse. I can see why she doesn't punch out the girl. She promised her mother, and if she breaks her promise it means she doesn't care about her mother and her mother may die and then it would be her fault. Sorry to writer if I gave away too much plot.

As a female veteran of the first Gulf War, this book talks to me. As my daughters father is currently in the gulf, they are dealing with some of these issues now.

And yes, kids can be cruel when it's the non-traditional parent in the military. Been there, held them while they cried. And with all the anti-war sentiment out there they are also having to defend not only their parent in the war zone but the war itself. A hard place to be for a school child.

So Please, PLEASE, get this to a publisher asap.

HawkOwl said...

I'm with Luc2. Good concept and competent execution, and yet it doesn't pop. But I'd look at it anyway.

Jeb said...

About 1.5 million soldiers (both genders) have rotated through Iraq at least once by now. If even half of them are family people, that's a lot of kids in a potential audience for this book.

This is a kid under a lot of stress, and the bully may be the last straw. I'd read pages.