This week’s Sneak Peek celebrates the ever-growing representation of mental illness in YA!
10 Things I Can See From Here
I could easily admit that it was nicer and faster to take the train from Seattle to Vancouver. But the last time I took the train, a woman threw herself in front of it just outside Everett.
Author: Carrie Mac
Published: February 28, 2017
For Those Who LIked: All the Bright Places, Perks of Being a Wallflower, A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, History is All You Left Me, A List of Cages, Girl on the Train
If I were an agent/acquisitions editor, would I select this for publication based on the opening chapter?:
This is a silly, subjective thing, but Mac immediately sets the setting of Seattle and Vancouver, which I automatically connect with because I’m somewhat of a West Coast girl. I’m already excited to get into her protagonist’s frame of mind, having at least somewhat been that girl traveling from Seattle to Vancouver island and back again before. Paired with the comforts of a familiar setting, the author throws in an overly anxious protagonist whose witnessed a traumatising event. This trauma is shocking and reading about a character grappling with witnessing a suicide is shocking and instantly pulls you in. There’s a lot of dynamic things going on in terms of character and setting development. I know what journey she needs to go on right away.
Like a lot of books I’ve read lately concerning mental illness, the protagonist is attending therapy right from the start. I will always have tons of respect for this, because therapists are not the enemy and teenagers need to be told there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. With this in mind, this gives me strong All the Bright Places vibes. It’s got very similar subject matter. Maeve is obsessed with death like Finch was, and on top of that, extra paranoid. She’s a sympathetic wreck and I feel for her.
Another little touch I appreciate is the chapter relates to a different way to die as Maeve does her obsessive research. I love these types of hooks because it makes me wanna know what the next chapter’s focus is. So many things in this novel’s opener just crooks a come hither finger at you and you have no other choice but to read on…
I should also make a case for the fact that this features a wlw girl, something that wasn’t immediately obvious to me based purely on the opener. But I see so few queer plots featuring girls lately (without deliberately digging for it, which I don’t ordinarily do), we should be supporting these plots more often!
Optimists Die First
The first time I saw Bionic Man I was covered in sparkles.
Author: Susan Nielsen
Publisher: Tundra Books
Published: February 21, 2017
For Those Who Enjoyed: All the Bright Places, 10 Things I Can See From Here, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Would I select this for publication?:
I personally wouldn’t, simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t know where I’m supposed to look. There are far too many characters introduced right away and I can’t tell who I’m supposed to glom on to. Opening chapters should be reserved for the protagonist and because there’s so much going on here, I’m struggling to connect.
This opener also makes the mistake of describing what the protagonist is wearing, in detail, from the protagonist’s point of view. I hate this trope. There are better ways to describe characters’ appearances and I just happen to think a protagonist has more important things to do than talk about what everyone’s wearing.
It’s a shame, because I think the title is really great and what drew me in in the first place.
Bonus: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
My big brother, Nolan used to say everyone has a superpower. Not a skill you learned, but something you were born with.
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette)
Published: February 7, 2017
For Those Who Enjoyed: All the Bright Places, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Mean Girls
You can read my full review of A Tragic Kind of Wonderful here!
What’s your favourite novel addressing mental illness?