Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's a Start, Part VII

Time to revive an old favorite!

"It's a Start" takes a look at the first sentence (or so) of books plucked randomly from the Acorn bookshelves. You can find Parts I-VI along with my later "It's a Start: Work in Progress" posts here.

I don't get paid to do this and have no real credentials, so my comments are just one reader's thoughts. If you feel differently, speak up! That's what the comments section is for. Note: Maximum number of stars = 5.

The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going away party. Looking for Alaska, by John Green

As I noted in an earlier post, this book really didn't do much for me, but I do love this first sentence. We get some sense of the main character and his voice ("minor life"? "insisted"?). We get setting. We get a hint of the change that is about to set the plot in motion. So much accomplished in so few words. Stars: ****

I was supposed to play the piano.
A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban

Talk about accomplishing a lot in a few words! We know our MC believes she was supposed to play the piano. Why? We can infer from this statement that she does not play the piano. Why not? This sentence involves the reader right off the bat and respects our intelligence. A lovely sentence, simple and yet complex. Much like the book itself. Stars: *****

The day I broke up with my boyfriend Evan was the day he wrote the song.
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Again, we have a first sentence that tells us something has just changed in the narrator's life: a breakup. We also have a teaser. What song? We also have a bit of a play for empathy. Anyone who has been through a breakup knows this ex-boyfriend-writing-a-song scenario can't be good. Stars: ****

When Eddie B. dared me to walk the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River where we'd seen an alligator and another kid got bit by a coral snake, I wasn't scared--I just didn't feel like doing it right then.
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, by Danette Haworth

I love spunky main characters (and who doesn't?), so this grabs me right away. Again we have setting. And you can't help but feel there's more than just a hint of foreshadowing in there, can you? Net bridges, alligators and snakes, oh my! Stars: *****

Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me.
The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt

Can you say, "conflict"? Sheesh! A teacher who hates our MC with a "heat whiter than the sun." Why? And what does she have in store for him? A great first sentence from my current Favorite Kid Lit Writer on the Face of the Earth. Stars: ****

That's it for this post. Not sure what's up with all the first-person narrators this time around, but they sure make for some compelling starts! What did you think of these?


Lauren said...

I loved Crooked Kind of Perfect and Wednesday Wars. The others sound good, too.

Danette Haworth said...


Thanks for putting me in such good company--I loved A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Looking for Alaska!

LindaBudz said...

Danette, Your first sentence deserves to be in that company, and in fact I'd put the rest of the book in there, too.

Lauren, Make "Violet Raines" your next read ... you'll thank me!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Love Schmidt's first line. Also, if you have the Scholastic hard cover (not sure of others) copy of The Wednesday Wars, read the excerpt on the back cover. You learn just about everything you need to know about the characters and conflict. It's amazing.

LindaBudz said...

Hi, Paul! That is a great excerpt! Thanks for pointing me to it. I'm sure I didn't read it before I read the book, because I usually avoid those ... I am exceedingly averse to spoilers and prefer not to know anything about a book (or movie, or TV show) before reading (or watching).