Hello, Loyal Readers! Today I take a look at a book whose author lives in my town!
Why I Picked It Up
I met the author, Ms. Estela Gutierrez, at a local writer meet-up and she gave me a free download copy!
Now before we get started, I’ll remind you that I am not the target demographic for this book. Yes, I enjoy books with teen female protagonists, but I like them better in a sci-fi, fantasy way. Sort of an ‘escape from your problems with fantasy’ thing. This is very much a ‘stay in the real world and deal with your problems’ kind of book, which to me says “literary.”
Also, another note on my personal tastes, I’m so sick of romantic subplots in books. They just seem cheap. But again, I’m not the target for romances with teen boys.
What I Like About It
The scenes surrounding the aftermath of the funeral have a genuine and sincere quality about them.If you’ve ever suffered the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to identify with our main character. Gutierrez also presents a very believable and down to earth vision of modern teen South Texas life.
But I gotta say my favorite thing about this book, hands down is how the main character blames herself for the death of her brother. That’s a great place to build conflict, and I love the sort of internal struggle it usually entails.
What Could Be Better, If Anything
I love the guilt aspect of the main character, but I feel Gutierrez isn’t using it to its fullest potential. It’s addressed once directly and then barely hinted at for first two and a half chapters, which is where I am at this point.
It also seems to me that the main character’s goal is a little unfocused. She’s got a lot of irons in the fire but, several scenes in, I’m hard pressed to choose which one is her main ‘goal’ or to use literary terms, her desire.
This is very realistic; teens have so much crap to do and so many conflicting desires that they usually CAN’T sift through it, but realism doesn’t make a great narrative. If it did, we wouldn’t need novels!
Without a central desire, I’m not really sure what to root for–should I be wanting her to date the boy? Get over her guilt? Go to Mexican Ballet Camp?
Most characters in literature are defined by their central problems and the obstacles they face. Think about your favorite character from any work of literature. Usually you can sum up their problem and obstacle in a single sentence.
Jean Valjean is an ex-con just trying to survive, but wants to turn over a new leaf when someone unexpectedly shows him compassion.
Hester Prynne is a colonial adulteress who just wants to raise her daughter and protect her lover’s identity, but said lover is determined to destroy himself as penance for their dalliance.
Sonic The Hedgehog is an environmental activist who wants to protect nature, but is constantly rescuing animals effected by industrialist Dr. Ivo Robotnik’s animal testing. Also, he’s a big fan of golden rings.
I find myself hard pressed to do that with Our MC here.
Anyway as always, don’t take my word for it, but download the sample from Estela Gutierrez and check for yourself! And leave me a comment!