Thursday, October 4, 2012
Books That Got Me Through
I was so blessed to have finished the big revisions to my manuscript just days before my close relationship with Arkansas Children's Hospital started. (Whew!) And I have been somewhat productive in getting some queries out there and trying to get some other bits ready for a huge upcoming contest on "Miss Snark's First Victim" blog where there will be real-live literary agents and everything. (Blows in a paper bag and tries not to hyperventilate.)
But while I sat in the hospital with my boy, there was a lot of down time and I wanted to be distracted. So here are some of the YA books that kept me sane for the days I enjoyed the hospitality of Children's Hospital.
The morning we went into the ER, I had the sense to pick a book out of the Amazon Box that had come a couple days before (Happy Birthday to ME!). I picked out "Princess Academy: Palace of Stone" by Shannon Hale. This was a book I had been looking forward to, since I enjoyed the first "Princess Academy" so much. This was sweet at the beginning with all the emotions of Miri leaving home, but quickly moved on to much more intriguing circumstances as Miri's old loyalties are tested and new friends are made. By the time I was on page 20, my son was in the OR and Miri's adventure with the revolutionaries in Danland kept me from pacing and generally stressing out. After we were settled in his hospital room, I soon opened the book. I had to know who Miri chose to align herself with. I loved the multi-tiered ending. Lots of excitement and tension. It ended so perfectly. Such a great book that can engage lots of discussion about loyalty and deception in friendships. How loyal, how truthful are we? Which friends deserve more loyalty and more openness?
Once I had finished licking my literary fingers, I moved on to "Farwalker's Quest" by Joni Sensel. This was such a great adventure book with both a girl and boy as the main characters. It had so many of the elements that I love. The heroine went through the wringer, but still proved so courageous! And the hero/boy was a great character. Loved him. I think this book was intended for Middle Grade, but the earlier chapters recount the heroine's kidnapping, reports the murder of her mother and the vandalism/desecration of her village. I know my 12 year old is a bit sensitive for it yet. One of the original "badguys" becomes more and more gray, until he becomes trustworthy. It was a wonderful ride for me, but I know another of my children who could totally take it the wrong way at his developmental stage right now. So, use your judgement. Great story for the mature middle grader and YA.
So, a few days into my son's hospital stay, I was back at my house for a change of clothes and a new novel. I chose "The False Prince" by Jennifer Nielsen, and I am soooo glad I did! This was an amazing story of danger, intrigue and disguise. Four orphans are chosen by a shady nobleman to learn the traits of the prince who died a few years before. It is a cutthroat competition where one will win and claim the throne (Anastasia style) and the rest will have to be...silenced. I want so much to share spoilers, but I will sit on my hands (for a moment) and resist the urge. Just have to say that the plotting (writing-wise and otherwise) was so wonderfully woven. I suspected the truth and LOVED the big reveal 3/4 of the way into the book. So very satisfying. This one got me through the wait next to the MRI and later in Radiology as a PICC line was inserted into my kiddo's arm. But the story and the characters (especially Sage) were so powerful, it was easy to immerse myself into the world Jennifer Nielsen created.
By the time I finished it, the hospital was starting to feel like home (kinda) and we got past the seriousness of all the sicky-stuff. Having a great book as a distraction helped, so that we could laugh and get silly and take pictures like this:
I just have to add one more book to this list. I have been reading "The Dragon's Tooth" by N.D. Wilson the past week. Oh Boy! That was a fun read! After about forty-some pages, I realized this was a retelling of "Treasure Island". It was all there, the lonely boy, the ramshackle inn, the mysterious guest with a nickname of Billy Bones. I was already interested, but at that point, you could not have pried the book out of my hand. (Though I did set it down for meal-prep and writing work and mothering and sleep.) But whenever I could find an excuse, it was in my lap and I was right with Cyrus and his sister, trying to figure out where the talented Mr. Wilson was going to take this creepy, adventuresome tale. When the character Big Ben Stirling shows up in the kitchen of the secret society, I laughed out loud. Loved the clever writing and fabulous characters and wonderfully elaborate world. I highly recommend it to thrill-seeking MG readers and up.