12.30.2006

HH Com 636

Thirteen-year-old Alex Morley once read that dust is only flakes of dead skin which people shed as they go on living. Bookish and slight, Alex feels like the dust which wafts about the small-town California library where we (I hope this is only a typo for 'he' not a shift to 1st plural) was homeschooled by his librarian mother until she died last year. His entrepreneurial father, now even more distant from Alex than before, storms the library to tell his son they are expatriating to Munich, and although Alex resists leaving, despite the bitterness boiling within him, he fights the man only with sullen silence. In Germany, he is surprised he thrives amid the foreignness of it all, especially when we discovers Anglia Copia, a chaotic secondhand English bookshop without shelves where the books are stacked throughout in teetering columns. It is populated by an eccentric proprietor who rarely speaks and an aged enigma of a man who
seems to be a customer but never seems to leave the shop. The men aren't the shop's only mysteries, but Alex intentially overlooks these. Outside the bookshop, in school and at home, he struggles with his mother's absence, his father's distance, and his nascent adolescence, but at the shop he finds refuge. Under the strange customer's tutelage, Alex discovers himself amid the books, which exude the dusty words of dead English authors who were once alive,
like him. More importantly, he exposes the strange connection the bookshop men have with his father, a history which will finally provide Alex his destiny.

For all of you who wonder why spelling and grammAr (yea, I know I get it wrong 85% of the time) are so critical, look no further. A simple typo (he/we) and twice no less, makes me wonder if this is first or third person. At least I hope it's a typo; if it's not, spelling is not the thing to worry about.

This is a run down of the premise of the novel; it's not a hook. And "destiny' can't ever be said without an implied sardonic sneer since Rick said "destiny takes a hand" in Casablanca.

5 comments:

Bella Stander said...

"Expatriating"? "Relocating" or just plain "moving" would do. The polysyllabic words obfuscate, rather than clarify, the action.

Anonymous said...

Since I'm currently an expatriate in Germany, I'd pick this up to have a look. It might be interesting. (But you do know that homeschooling is illegal here, don't you? Even for Americans...)

Anonymous said...

If this is YA you've got to pare it all down and stop using such flowery language. The writing needs to pop.

EX: "In Germany, he is surprised he thrives amid the foreigness of it all...??"

You cannot do this.

Try: "Once in Germany, he comes alive when he discovers an old English bookshop whose customers not only know his father, but also hold the key to his destiny."

In YA voice is key. Your novel might be fresh and filled with that energetic YA voice, but the query letter needs to reflect that as well.

Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

,,,the dusty words of dead English authors who were once alive...

As opposed to dead English authors who were never alive? You'll need to reword that.

Inkwolf said...

I can't help thinking that a kid in Germany who is 'thriving amid the foreignness' would be out there learning the language, discovering legal underage beer, and getting body piercings instead of holing up in an English-language bookstore. The bookstore seems more like a hiding-from-the-foreignness situation.