You Read What? Book Reviews: Blind Spot

Author: Laura Ellen

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

  • Imprint: Harcourt Children’s Books

Publishing Date: October 23, 2012

Available Formats: Print and E-book

Number of Pages: 336

Number of Days It Took Me to Read: 3

Source: I received this e-book from Netgalley with the permission of the publisher. I don’t receive anything in return for the reviews. Not even chocolate…

LAURA ELLEN debuts with her Young Adult novel, Blind Spot.

Photo by Vania Stoyanova, VLC Productions

Cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is quite the eye catching cover (pun very much intended). It was one of the main reasons for requesting this ARC along with the synopsis itself. I’m not too sure about the tagline though. Corny seems to scream in my head but overall…really good. It’s abstract enough without giving too much of the story away or being too obvious but also relevant.

Synopsis:

Winter stops hiding Tricia Farni on Good Friday

When a truck plunges through the thinning ice of Alaska’s Birch River, Tricia’s body floats to the surface– dead since the night she disappeared six months earlier.

The night Roswell Hart fought with her.

The night Roz can’t remember.

Missing things is nothing new to sixteen-year-old Roz. She has macular degeneration, an eye disease that robs her central vision. She’s constantly piecing together what she sees– or thinks she sees–but this time her memory needs piecing together. How can Roz be sure of the truth if her own memory has betrayed her? Can she clear her name of a murder that she believes she didn’t commit?

Plot/Storyline:

Boy, was this a good read. I thought that this would primarily be a murder/mystery book but it was so much more than that. It’s a story that’s essentially about disability and the stigma that’s attached to it. The murder was just the platform to voice the difficulties of those with disabilities face in a very pro-able bodied society and I felt Ellen did just that. The story begins with the time leading up Tricia disappears, during the time she was missing and the aftermath which allows readers to see these characters at different points in time, painting a more richer picture of them.

Writing:

The pacing was great. I got sucked in despite the fact that the investigation and disappearance of Tricia didn’t occur until much later. The drama existed long before that, though, with Roz’s struggles with friends, family and school – all of which had me screaming various things at my computer screen (a swear word here and there…a gasp as well along with the occasional cringing). The writing was exactly the most poetic thing I’ve read but it got the job done in telling this story and was good for a young adult novel.

Characters:

         Roswell (Roz) is legally blind and when you first hear that, it’s like you automatically know how you’ll feel about this character or what they’ll be like. I thought Roz would be shy and kind. I was wrong. Roz is headstrong, smart, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also defensive, self centered at times and blind in terms of differentiating between the people who care about her and those using her. I was annoyed, frustrated and angry with her a lot but I felt pity too (and anger for her). I hated that people boxed her into a corner because she’s been labeled “disabled”. Her mother is just…terrible. I promise that by mid-way through the book (or earlier) it’ll sneak up on you on how much you care about her regardless of her flaws.

         Mr. Dellian got most of my wrath (along with Jonathan) because of how used the label of disability as a weapon against some of the characters (but mostly Roz) and it made my skin crawl to think of people in real life that could and probably have done that.

I love Greg. He’s just adorable but he had moments that had him come across as a jerk.

        Tricia is someone I can respect. She may appear much more damaged than the other characters but she sees a lot more than she’s given credit for.

Memorable/Forgettable?: Memorable. I’m still reeling from the emotional tail spin that’s been inflicted on me. I was put into the mind of a character that I normally wouldn’t relate to and felt what she did to the point where the residual effects still linger…

Rating: I give this 5 capes out of 5.

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

Last Time On…THE CREATIVE WRITING SEMINAR

Hey guys,

So in my creative writing seminar, we have workshops where a maximum of three people sign up for a particular day to have their stories discussed/critiqued during the seminar period. So we have to choose one day during the fall term and one in the winter. You can bring either a fictional short story, non-fiction piece or poem(s).

My fall workshop day is October 16th but since no one signed up for the first workshop day (yesterday’s) I decided to volunteer the piece I’m currently working on (sent it this past Friday to allow for a couple of days for my classmates/Prof to read it).

If you’ve been following my tweets (either through this blog or via twitter), you’ve noticed that I’ve been having a panic attack from the moment I sent it until seconds before the critiques/discussion began.

It wasn’t that bad. I honestly thought they’d rip into me (especially my Prof who’s SO into literary fiction and would be turned off by the fantastical aspect of the story despite having a literary fiction undertone) but they didn’t. They gave me the critiques I was looking for and help me see the things that I couldn’t because I was too close to it. Now my piece will be SO much better than it is.

I’ll make sure that the next “Pens, Paper, Stories, OH MY!” segment will discuss Critiquing Etiquette because it’s important to do it constructively as well as doing it in a way that creates a safe space for the writer. Having one’s creative writing piece critiqued is hard because it’s very much a part of you and feels like people are attacking YOU.

They’re not…most of the time.

A. A. Omer

P. S.

Some of you expressed interest in the piece I wrote. I can’t… right now. I actually wanted to submit it for publication (or for the multiple contests floating around) which means it can’t be put online. Once published (hopefully), I’ll post it then.

Pens, Papers, Stories, OH MY #2

Hey!

I should be asleep right so I can get up early to do a blood test but I need to get this out to you guys stat (I just finished The Mob Doctor…so sue me). My last post discussed questions to ask your story (fiction) and now I’ll be discussing what Creative Non-Fiction is.

I didn’t know a thing about Creative Non-Fiction until my Creative Writing class this year (Yay for knowledge!). So here’s a bit about it and examples of it:

The best definition I found on Creative Fiction is found on About.com

A branch of writing that employs the literary techniques usually associated with fiction or poetry to report on actual persons, places, or events.

This could include Criticisms (i.e. movie reviews, art critique, travel writing etc), Memoir, or Subject Study (studying a real person). The point is that no matter which of these you choose to do, there is a critique of a larger social issue.

It’s great because you could start off discussing a movie you saw (The Help) and then head somewhere completely different but related (racism and colonialism) and then quite possibly discuss something personal about yourself (being discriminated because of your race) and then back to the movie review.

The connections won’t be as obvious as my examples and you don’t really see the connections until the end of the piece. Also, the changing of topics within the piece may not necessarily happen in that order. It’s just a more creative way to deal with non-fiction pieces like essays and articles.

I’m not sure if I’m explaining this right since I’m just learning about it too. When I get more information, I’ll pass it along. If anyone knows more about this particular subject, you can always post in the comments section for me and others to see and learn more from.

Also, a perfect website that showcases Creative Non-Fiction is N+1 Magazine. More examples include (again, taken from About.com): travel writingnature writingscience writingbiographyautobiographymemoir, the interview, and both the familiar and personal essay.

That’s all for now,

A. A. Omer

P.S.

I missed Word on the Street this year and I’m really sad. 😦 But I had training for a volunteer job which was really informative 🙂

But I’m still sad 😦

I’ll go now…

Pens, Papers, Stories, OH MY #1

Hey Guys,

Just sent a short story to be read by my classmates and professor before we meet Tuesday. I’m having a mild panic attack but am otherwise alright. An hour before I was expected to send it, I was editing. I was changing it into a story that I thought my Professor would like and started to realize that it was morphing into a story I didn’t recognize. What did I do? I sent the original and now I’m getting hives (figurative hives but hives nonetheless). At the end of the day, I’ll be a story that wanted to write…

…they’ll eat me alive.

Enough of the doom and gloom. Let’s take about writing that doesn’t involve me…or more like writing that’ll benefit you. This past Tuesday (Creative Writing Seminar/Class!), we discussed the questions to ask of our fiction pieces and what creative non-fiction is. I’ll be writing about the fiction aspect tonight and the creative non-fiction either tomorrow or Sunday.

After you’re done writing your fiction piece, there are certain questions you need to ask. The following questions are questions taken from my professor with examples provided from me:

  1. Is this fiction vivid? Can readers see it? Readers see the scene through the characters so the Point of View you choose is important since readers rely on it. Vividness of a particular scene is very important because the reader is learning about the character indirectly (i.e. The character’s room is in disarray which shows the disorganization a the character without saying it directly).
  2. Are the characters distinct from one another? Are they true feeling? Hemingway said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
  3. Is the main character facing a dilemma? What’s at stake? Don’t emphasize tensions of plot (stuck in a room with limited oxygen); emphasize human concerns (locking yourself in a room to hide from one of your parents’ violent fights). Short stories aren’t plot driven. They’re character driven.
  4. Have emotion and drama been handled with restraint? Not over-dramatized.
  5. Does the fiction hold some essential mystery (again, not a plot mystery)?
  6. Is the writing tight, compressed?
  7. Are the metaphors tight and exact?
  8. Is anything over-described?
  9. Does the story keep moving forward?
  10. Have all cliches of expression, character and story been avoided? 

As soon as you feel like you have a handle on your story, glance through these questions. They’ll offer up perspective you probably didn’t have before.

I’m off to breathe into a paper bag…

A. A. Omer

Bookstravaganza and TIFF Part 2

As promised, a post on the event that I went to last night as well as the last movie I saw at TIFF this past Saturday (despite the enormous headache I have).

  • TIFF

So I went to see Byzantium with my mother and brothers at the Bloor Cinema this past Saturday (Sept. 15). It was the last movie I saw and it was a really cool, fresh take on the traditional vampire lore. The fact that it starred Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan was an added bonus along with director Neil Jordan who also directed Anne Rice’s An Interview with a Vampire. It was a great end to the festival for me.

  • Bookstravaganza

So I went to a book event last night hosted by Random House of Canada and Chatelaine Magazine called Bookstravaganza. It was held at the Ritz Carlton hotel downtown and it showcased the latest fall books offered through Random House of Canada. It was a night for avid readers of all types (tickets were $25 plus tax) and there was amazing treats/appetizers (CHOCOLATE).I got to ARCs (Advance Readers Copies), had two books signed by the authors, and two additional books along with a swag bag full of beauty (and more chocolate) from Chatelaine Magazine. It was a fun night and the first of it’s kind. I’m definitely going next year…

(Presentation of the new fall line up from Random House of Canada)

(Shauna Singh Baldwin and Annabel Lyon signing their new books: The Selector of Souls and The Sweet Girl)

(Author, Annabel Lyon, signs my copy of her book with a little personal note)

(Awesome book haul. ARCs of Linda Spalding’s The Purchase and Carol Shaben’s Into the Abyss.)

(The swag in the swag bag!!)

(Truffles in the swag bag. The most delicious truffles that had this chocoholic weeping)

Now I’m going to take some Advil and head to bed for my early start tomorrow.

Night,

A. A. Omer