Our second submission for First Impressions is a YA Thriller, titled NOT ME by Taffy Lovell.
I glance out my dirty bedroom window. The sky promises another beautiful day. If my days were normal, I might hang out at the pool, pretending not to watch the lifeguards. If my life were normal, I might sit under the shade of the trees and daydream. If I were normal, I might gossip with friends late into the night. We would sit on someone’s bed, eating popcorn and talking about everything and nothing. But I left normal behind ages ago--in quiet cemeteries.
My computer desk is unorganized chaos. I hide the scissors and yesterdays newspaper under my bed. The obituaries can wait.
A worn-out and yellowed clipping flutters to the floor. I pick it up and study it. John Birch’s trench coat is thrown over my little sister and me. He’s trying to shield us from the snooping cameras. The caption reads “Lost Memories or Fake Amnesia?”
I tuck the old news story into the red shoebox and place it in the closet shelf. Time for reality.
My hair is a ratty mess. I flip my head over and try to force my tangled mane into a ponytail. I peek in the mirror. It will work. Easy. That’s how I roll.
The t-shirt I wore to bed reeks like last night’s Chinese takeout. Not how I roll. A black piece of fabric peeks out from beneath my pillow. Pulling my favorite AC/DC vintage t-shirt close I inhale and pretend it smells like the last boy I crushed on. I haven’t lost memories of him.
I trade the shirt with another, cleaner one off the floor and shake it out for good measure. A green frog grins at me with the thought bubble: “It isn’t easy being green!”
Georgie is still in bed, I’m sure. She doesn’t have a morning ritual because she has natural beauty. Everyone says so. She doesn’t even sweat, she glows.
“Georgie!” I scream from my doorway. “I can’t be late again or I’ll get detention!”
There are several things that really catch my attention on this page. The sentences I left normal behind ages ago--in quiet cemeteries and The obituaries can wait and the bit about the newspaper clipping and the headline are all very intriguing. The list of “normal” activities in the first paragraph and the descriptions of her t-shirts, less so.
I suggest rearranging the information on this first page to make those intriguing details pop. For instance, Taffy could start with our MC laying down the scissors and deciding The obituaries can wait. That would be a startling beginning. (The obituaries can wait might even make an excellent opening sentence.)
Next the MC can glance out the window at the beautiful day and (more briefly) think about the ways normal girls might spend the day. Then she can deliver the line But I left normal behind ages ago--in quiet cemeteries.
Finally, while she’s searching the floor for a clean-enough t-shirt, she can come across the clipping that had fallen off the table – and boom, we’re hooked. Or, at least I am. Readers, what do you think?