Progress Report: Reviewing and Revising

I’ve written a review for Forever Young Adult on Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series. I’ll be reviewing the whole series for them, but this one covers the first four books. I’m thrilled to be writing these reviews because I love both the books and and the website. Here is the link.
I’m currently working on a rewrite of My UnDead Ex, and trying to ween myself from my dependence on exposition. It’s an uphill battle. I’m still querying Random Acts of Nudity, to no avail. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going, before retiring it and starting over querying another project. I’ve also gotten some feedback on Tooth or Consequence and have got some inklings on what to do with the revision. And I’ve written a short children’s story that I think will make a cute picture book, though I don’t think my drawing skills are quite up to the task. It might be something to work on in between projects. I think I’ll leave you with an anecdote that has been on my mind lately.
I was around eighteen and working behind the bakery counter of a grocery store. One day a baby in a shopping cart appeared in front of the counter. It must have been pushed there by a parent. In fact I’m sure it was. But in my memory there is no parent just the baby. This was without a doubt the most adorable baby that ever was. It has big round eyes and chubby cheeks. And even chubbier legs. It was smiling a huge toothless smile. Other shoppers stopped to aw and coo over it. One of the produce stockers came over and tickled the baby’s bare toes. This was one ridiculously cute baby.
I remember very clearly the thought that went through my head as I watched this scene unfold. I thought, in all seriousness, “Anything that cute can’t be what it seems. It’s probably an alien in disguise, here to enslave humanity with its adorableness.” That was the day I realized I was kind of eccentric.

Watch This: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I got to see this limited release movie a few weeks ago, and I loved it! I don’t think I’d been so moved by a movie I saw at the theater since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. This movie sucked me in from the first moment.

It’s based on a young adult novel of the same name. The director/screenwriter of the film is also the author of the book. It’s obvious the film was a labor of love. Nothing felt rushed or inauthentic. Every character was well-rounded and had a rich history. And lots of attention was paid to the mood and tone. Watching the movie felt like reading a really good book.

The story is set in the early nineties but the movie doesn’t go overboard with the costumes or props to make the point. There is plenty of flannel and characters make mix tapes on cassettes for each other instead of playlists. But it didn’t feel like it was hitting you over the head and screaming “this is set in the nineties!”

The movie centers on Charlie, who is just beginning his freshman year of high school. Charlie is a loner but not by choice. He’s the kind of kid who goes unnoticed by his classmates unless it’s to dump his books on the floor. He is played by Logan Lerman with just the right mix of sweetness, trepidation, and fragility.

Charlie’s only friend committed suicide over the summer. It’s implied that Charlie too suffers from mental and emotional issues. He is so guarded and repressed that just saying hello to someone is a big deal. Which is why it’s so compelling when he does. He tentatively reaches out to a couple of other outsiders and they take him under their wings. They recognize that he needs to belong to a group, even if he doesn’t know how. Each of his new friends is harboring their own secrets and past damage. They’re somehow both the typical self-centered teenagers and at the same time genuinely compassionate. Charlie soon develops feelings for Sam, played by Emma Watson, who’s dealing with her own issues of self-worth and trust. But it’s Patrick, played by Ezra Miller, who nearly steals the entire movie. He plays an out, and persecuted for it, gay teen. He cover his vulnerability with confidence and glibness. And he gets all the best lines.

None of the relationships in the movie are easy summarize. It’s not “he likes her, but she likes someone else.” The ways the characters relate to each other are incredibly complex, and so very real. Charlie’s new friends pull him out of his shell little by little, and give him hope, but there is a ticking clock throughout. All of his new friends are seniors and he’s a freshman. In a few months they will leave him behind, pulling away his lifeline. I was thoroughly invested in whether he’d make it without them.

I don’t want to make it sound like an after school special. There is quite a lot of serious ground covered, and a plot twist near the end is gut wrenching, but there’s also a lot of humor in his friends’ antics and his awkwardness. And also several moments of catharsis. I fell in love with this movie. The novel has been sitting in my audiobook library for a while. I’ll be bumping it up a few slots.