Things have been crazy in my currently very narrow my-book-is-about-to-be-published world. I continue to be surprised by all of the things that go into launching a book, and by how much work it is. I’ve been told that for the next four months I will be consumed with the business of releasing my baby into the world and giving her the proper support so she can thrive. Just four weeks and two days until publication! (Not that I’m counting down or anything.)
I know it seems contradictory, but as I was writing Hand Me Down, I was hoping to someday publish it but not really processing the fact that publication would lead to people actually reading it. Now that they are and reviews are coming in, I’m constantly nervous. As I’ve mentioned, waiting for reviews is unpleasant. There’s so much subjectivity in reviewing, even if the initial reviews are good, there is always the chance that the next person will hate it.
So when a reviewer really gets the book, it’s a gift. It’s even better if that reviewer writes for Kirkus Reviews, the “world’s toughest book critics,” who have a reputation for being downright mean. And if that reviewer loves the book enough to give it a star, then for a few minutes or days the doubts and fears and what-if voices quiet down and you remember what it is to love to read and how amazing it is to connect to a book and why you started writing in the first place and, well, this author feels truly grateful.
See the star next to the title on the Kirkus Reviews website, but unless you subscribe, you can’t read the whole review there. Lucky for you, I can share it with you here for free!
First-time author Thorne wears her heart on her sleeve in this semi-autobiographical tale about a 14-year-old who juggles equal amounts of hope and despair in her chaotic daily life.
Liz and younger sister Jaime have learned they can only count on one another after their mom, Linda, marries a convicted sex offender. Terrance, who parades around the small apartment half-dressed and leers at Liz, makes it clear that if she complains he’ll take it out on her sister. But when Terrance’s parole officer receives a tip that the ex-con is in violation of parole by living with the two girls, their mom’s solution is to farm the girls out to other family members. Jaime moves in with their dad, a lying drunk who mercilessly beat Linda during their marriage, while Liz is farmed out to Terrance’s brother, Gary, and his wife. Liz worries she’s missing too much school and is haunted by the fear that their father will repeat history and drive drunk with Jaime in tow. Liz continues to narrate her journey with prose that vibrates with intelligence and passion. Although she is just beginning her freshman year of high school, Liz manages to carry around with her a heavy burden of responsibility for her sister. Thorne writes Liz as world-weary and mature in ways children should not have to be. From the mother who willingly throws over her children for the promise of marriage to a man who uses her, to the well-meaning Aunt Deborah, who offers Liz a home she cannot accept, Thorne populates her pages with characters who are fascinating and sharply drawn.
Failed by the adults in her life and forced to be the grown-up when she should be experiencing first dates and football games, Liz is a wise, wry, wonderful heroine.
Thank you, thank you. Whatever else anyone says, I will always have this moment.
I love the reviews over at Goodreads, too. Other readers seem to be connecting to the book in personal ways and that is part of the point of sharing this story, so that makes me happy. Speaking of Goodreads, you can win a free advance copy of Hand Me Down just by signing in and clicking enter.
In other news, I contributed my first blog post for a new website for debut authors called Book Pregnant. I wrote “My First Agent Crush” about the first agent I queried and why, even though I was sure I wanted to work with her, her rejection was a good thing in the end. I also added a new event in Oakland with Sere Prince Halverson and Amy-Franklin Willis, who are also part of Book Pregnant.
Four weeks and two days, people. Four weeks and two days!