When their friend Scooter dies of a rare disease, teenagers Nick Gardner and Jaycee Amato set out on a secret journey to find the father who abandoned "The Scoot" when he was an infant, and give him a signed first edition of "Of Mice and Men."
As with all books I read, I learned a great deal about writing from this one. Here goes:
Add interest by threading in old favorites.
Bits of Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN were woven through the narrative. If teens haven't read the classic yet, hopefully they'll grab a copy after reading GRAVITY. And the Scoot was a huge Star Wars fan and quoted Yoda, which was a fun story element.
Send your characters on a worthy quest.
Nick and Jaycee weren't on their journey for selfish reasons. They were fulfilling a dying wish of their best friend. Who can resist that?
Create likable characters.
I know, I know, we hear this all the time. But still. When I read great characters it reminds me to give my own characters memorable quirks, identifiable faults, and admirable qualities.
Don't forget to add interesting, supporting characters.
Nick's dad was obese and set out on his own journey of self discovery, walking hundreds of miles--Forrest Gump style. The Scoot suffered from a terminal disease, and his dying wishes lingered on every page. The supporting cast stayed with me after I finished the book.
Between-chapter goodies can add depth.
I love it when extras are slipped between chapters, like the poetry added to THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. In GRAVITY it was emails from Nick's dad, chronicling his trek to New York. It added dimension to the story.
Clean YA stories are great.
*puts on mommy hat*
This is a clean, well-told story that I'd be comfortable with my 14-year-old son reading.
What's your opinion of these lessons learned? And have you experienced something similar in the books you've read?