HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL by Melanie Sumner

HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

How a kid can help her broke, widowed, overwhelmed mom: write a novel!

Aristotle "Aris" Thibodeau carefully follows the advice in Write A Novel In Thirty Days!, a book she receives as a gift for her 12.5th birthday from her mother, whom she calls Diane. She divides her autobiographical narrative neatly into sections: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Denouement. She limits herself to one use of hyperbole, avoids superfluous characters, and tries her best to heed the warning that "two flashbacks in one chapter might kill sales." In her writing studio, which is the space under her bed, she has posted the recommended motivational sticky notes to remind herself why she took on this project: to avoid therapy, to attract a man for Diane, and to make money. She truly becomes a writer on Page 140, when the English teacher she's shared her work in progress with says "I like your novel." Instant, total bliss! Then the teacher asks, "When is your protagonist going to face a situation she can't handle, the outcome of which will change her life?" Darkness descends: "She hated it!" Sumner (The Ghost of Milagro Creek, 2010, etc.) obviously knows what she's talking about, and of course the complications the teacher calls for are just around the corner. Including exercises from Write A Novel In Thirty Days!, excerpts from Diane's purloined journals, text messages with Aris' so-called long-distance boyfriend, and student essays from Diane's classes at Kanuga Christian College, this book may appeal to younger readers as much or more than gnarled sophisticates. The central adult characters, Diane and her friend Penn, the family's nanny, handyman, and "PMI"—positive male influence—both belong to AA and have been through the wringer, but through Aris' eyes, they are inevitably somewhat idealized.

Sweet, clever, and fun.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-101-87347-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Vintage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015




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