Week Two of NaNoWriMo

This week I liked Anne Rice’s Facebook page. Since I’ve been focusing a lot of my efforts on editing and rewriting I was really interested in some of her posts about how she writes. It’s always interesting to learn how writers write and edit and get their inspiration because writing is such a solitary process most of the time.

Anne Rice is the author of Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned, The Witching Hour, and a ton of other books. A couple months ago I finished reading The Witching Hour which was great and frustrating and super long. (It’s over 900 pages and half of it is family history.) There’s no doubt when reading Anne Rice that she’s a fantastic author. So when I saw how she edits I was super interested and thought I would share.

“You might say I was word processing before word processors. But the point is, I never worked in drafts. I never sat down and wrote a “first draft” of anything. I wrote only through slow and polished and highly edited evolution, discarding as I went along until — by the very end — I had a completed and polished and deeply thought out and, above all, deeply felt and executed manuscript. One version of that manuscript existed, and nothing more. There was never a sloppy first draft or second draft or third draft.”

Anne Rice

I can see a lot of benefits to this style of editing. It’s definitely not something I’ve done but I might try something like it in the future.

As far as my current project is going, it could be going better. At this point I’ve been floundering a little. Maybe a lot. So I don’t think I’ll get to 50,000 this NaNoWriMo but I do think I will eventually finish this draft because I know that finishing this draft brings me closer to my goals of being a better writer and being a published one.

I got sidetracked this week but there were a few things I added that I really think helps the story.

*Added prologue to increase drama and tension and to add more interest to the beginning of the story.

*Changed a scene where I had filler dialogue and made the dialogue actually mean something. Used it to add background information and to add emotional connection to the characters.

I’ve also started to write each scene name down along with what the key points and purpose of each scene is. I’m trying to cut the scenes that are just filler.

There’s a lot of other things that I’ve been changing and a lot of edits and add-ins that I’m going to get to in the next few weeks.

 

NaNoWriMo Stats:

Word Count: 8,304

Where It’s Supposed To Be: 23,333

Words Per Day Needed to Finish On Time: 2,453

 

Keep Writing! Even if you’re slow and get easily distracting like me.

Motto for this week: Keep Going.

 

Question for anyone reading this blog post: How do you edit/write?

I’d love to hear about your process as I’m struggling through building my own.

 

 

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Week One of NaNoWriMo

Word Count: 5,636

Where It’s Supposed To Be: 11,667

Words Per Day to Finish On Time: 1,849

I took the weekend off and I’m still writing/ editing today.

Thoughts

So this week I’ve really been trying to reread and rewrite. I find myself rewriting most of the scenes completely. It’s also been a long time since I’ve actually tried to write almost everyday so I find that I’m a bit dusty.

When I started on Day 1 I knew that I wasn’t writing the right tenses and that  I was making mistakes but it was hard for my brain to correct these things. So on Day 2 I had to go through everything that I had written and fix it all.

I’m fixing a lot of things like tense changes. I’m also fixing the fact that the first draft switches between 1st person and 3rd person and I’m changing the name of my main character.

Then I’ve been working on changing scenes so they make more sense and make the wording better.

I think this first week has really just been getting back to writing and getting back into this story.

I’m also trying to find the balance between getting word count for NaNoWriMo and trying to write the best draft that I can. It’s hard to balance quality and quantity. The benefit of writing this month is that NaNoWriMo is a great motivator. It really builds and harnesses my excitement for writing. But it’s downside is that it’s a fast paced process.

Goals For Next Week

-Get caught up on writing count or pretty close

-Try to build the characters more and the story more

-Keep going over and editing second draft in progress

 

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It’s NaNoWriMo Season

Hello everyone!

I haven’t published a blog post in a really long time but I hope to change that with weekly reports on my writing progress this NaNoWriMo season.

For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, see my blog post about it here.

This year for NaNoWriMo I’m going to be a rebel. In 2014 I won NaNoWriMo with a book about witches and reincarnation and a woman trying to discover her past. Well, after all the frenzy of writing, that novel sat for a very long time.

You see, this is the very first novel that I’ve ever completed. This is a novel that I had an idea for at 10:30 on Halloween night. ( I technically cheated because I started writing it before midnight.) Everyday I would sit down and just write. A lot of it was staring at the screen until some words would come out.

It would take me hours each day to reach the 1,667 word count needed to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I did this while I was enrolled in 13 credit hours, involved in my college’s color guard, and a member of a community service sorority.

Each day I would make the time to write or, more accurately, stare at my laptop screen. And at the end of the month I had somehow managed to write a novel with barely any planning or research.

It was a new experience. So is revising.

I’ve never really been that great at revising. To me, it’s like writing. It’s a skill you have to grow.

So, I approached editing as best I could. I bought a large journal and sectioned it out. The beginning pages are dedicated to characters and their traits. Then there is a page listing possible novel names. (I’m still working on the title.) Then I sectioned off each page with three columns. The top of the column said the chapter number and the number of pages in the chapter. Under that are the headings description, key events, and changes.

It doesn’t take me long to read 100 pages so in about a day or two I had read all of my novel with notes to boot. Then I promptly forgot about it or, more accurately, fondly thought of it but never actually did anything about it for a very long time.

Then I got tired of that. I got tired of remembering this project that I wanted to do something about but never actually did. So I went to Lulu.com, uploaded my novel so only I could see it, and then I shipped it in paperback form to my house. (Only 7 bucks with shipping for a 100 page paperback!)

I bought some post-its and got to work rereading it again.

This time I could compare notes I made the first time with thoughts about the novel that I had now. I made lists of the plot and lists of what I want to change. I made lists of the questions I had and all the problems I saw. Then I set out goals for the second draft.

This NaNoWriMo season I’m writing my second draft. Hence, the rebel part. I’m already a cheater too because I’ve started the first chapter. (The spirit of NaNoWriMo is really more in the doing and not the rules. So…. oh well.)

What I really want to do is write blog posts about my experience through editing and rewriting this second draft. Mostly, I want to do this to keep myself accountable. But I also want to do it because I have no clue how to do this. I’m making up the rules as I go along. If anyone else wants to read this and learn from what I do wrong and what I do right then that’s great.

NaNoWriMo is about a community helping each other to accomplish their dreams of writing a novel.  So by writing about my experience I hope I can add to that community.

I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s new to me. But let’s see where it goes.

So here’s my revision update so far…

Chapter One got the ax. It was abstract, brought up things that never showed their faces in the rest of the novel, and had a completely different voice. It was pretty much a no brainer that I had to delete the entire chapter. (It was only two pages so no big deal.)

With the first chapter being gone I reworked the second chapter and completely rewrote it. I added new dialogue and new scenes while I still kept the heart of what the chapter was about.

So far I have 577 words done in the second draft and I still haven’t completed the new first chapter yet.

That’s where I am the night before NaNoWriMo.

Good luck to all my NaNo’s.

 

I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Time Capsule

Over the years I have written in half-filled journals, my pen filled with worry and excitement and frustration. It’s my personal time capsule.

Today someone posted about their impending graduation and  I remembered that almost one year ago I graduated college. I looked through my journal, one year back, to April 22, 2015. One year ago today, I was worried about being liked. I was worried that my friends didn’t understand me because of an incident that had happened where a close friend had gotten mad at me for talking about my personal experiences. They were mad at me for trying to share my past.

The very next day, April 23, 2015, I contemplated starting a blog. I didn’t know if I wanted it to be a travel blog or a book review blog or maybe something else entirely.

Rewind to a week earlier, April 11, 2015, I wrote about deciding to pick love. By the end of my college career  I was losing my shit. Completely and totally losing my shit. To most people I seemed fine. I did my school work. I planned my future. I went to bars and restaurants and movies with my friends. I laughed. I showered and ate and functioned but on the inside I was screaming. I was screaming because I was in the final semester of my undergraduate career.

In one month I would be leaving my comfortable college life to live with my boyfriend of many, many years. I had to figure out how to make money and be a somewhat productive citizen while dealing with the quirks of his unusual lifestyle due to his profession. His job entails going from job to job, city to city, state to state, and he loves it. And I love him. We had been long distance for far too long and I knew that graduation would be a big day, not just in my academic career but in my love life as well. In life you have to choose what you build up, put stock in, and try to grow. You actively choose what you want to cultivate because you can’t cultivate it all. So I decided to pick love and that day in April, I decided to document it.

It wasn’t easy. Last year, in April, I didn’t know which state I would live in starting the day after graduation. I didn’t know if I would be good at freelance writing. I didn’t know if my long distance relationship would last. I didn’t know if my friends would still keep in touch after I was long gone. And most of all, I didn’t know how I would forge a path in this world.

I only knew three things.

The first was that I was willing to bet on love. I knew what I had to do even though it scared me and I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was taking a leap and all the way to the cliff I was hyperventilating.

The second thing, which I repeated to myself, was that, “I am a smart person. I am a capable person.” I reasoned that no matter what, I would always be smart and capable enough to think myself out of whatever situation I got myself in. If freelance writing didn’t work, I told myself that I would find something else. If my relationship didn’t work, I would be ok too. I decided that yes I would choose love but I would also believe in myself too. I would believe that no matter what happened I would be ok.

The third thing is that I always have family. I have family to help me and care about me. I will have family if I make a million bucks or one. I have family who have helped me to become a smart, capable person. The reason I am willing to jump head first towards love is because I have family who taught me how to love and care and hope.

In my time capsule, I often see the same themes. I worry if I will ever be a novelist. I worry about how I am going to leave a mark in this world. I worry about my personal relationships and what the people around me think about me. I worry about the future because I just want so badly to get it all right. These themes show up year after year and when I read them I smile because I still identify with the worry but I also know how it all turned out.

Sometimes friends leave you and sometimes you leave them. I’ve said and done some things that I’m not proud of and I’ve lost some friends that I thought would still be here one year later. The sad part is, there’s still memories I want to share, memories of me and them, but I’m still afraid that they’ll get mad at me for it.

As for love, I’m still glad I chose it. One year later and I’m still in love. Last week I got a little sick and all I wanted was potato soup and a Caesar salad from Panera. He came home with medicine, the salad, and two soups because he knows that one potato soup is never enough. When all the worry is going around in my head, he’s still the person that I tell it all to. He’s my person.

One year later and I still don’t know how I’m going to make my mark in this world. I don’t know if I’ll ever see my novel on the shelves. I’m pretty sure a year from now I’ll still have the same themes bouncing around in my journal.

But I do know three things.

I pick love.

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I am smart. I am capable.

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I will always have my family.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

On the cover is a small girl, stiff as a board, levitating a few feet from the ground. For years I walked past this peculiar cover thinking some strange horror story was locked inside. It was something about children, children in a home with a woman named Miss Peregrine and for years that’s all I knew. And every time I passed the book I would think Someday… Maybe I’ll read it.

MissPeregrines

That day did not come until a week ago when I saw that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was being made into a movie with a trailer just released. The trailer was filled with fantastical children and what looked like a great glimpse of a grand adventure. I saw this trailer and thought that it was time to put my Barnes & Noble gift card to use and experience the magic myself.

I’ve linked the video for those who haven’t seen it.

After reading the novel I now see that there are several problems with this trailer.

You see that scene right at the beginning, the one where the girl blows the air in the ship, well she’s the wrong girl and that’s not really how that scene was supposed to go. He’s supposed to like girl who can set fire to things, not girl who can fly. There’s a difference.

But while the trailer and the book differ on some key things, the book was great and the movie looks like it will be pretty good too. It’s just going to have to be one of those movies you watch while pretending that all the little and big details aren’t completely wrong. It’s a good test of letting things go. You know, finding Zen and all.

The Book

The book is about a boy named Jacob who grows up hearing about his grandfather’s extra-ordinary, over-the-top childhood eventually thinking, like everyone else, that no one can have that magical of a life filled with friends who have extra mouths and can create fire in their palm.

Surely he must be lying.

It’s when he’s grandfather dies that he finally realizes that all his grandfather’s stories of his childhood weren’t fictional tales at all but real life marvels. There really is a girl who can create fire in her palm and another with a second mouth. Jacob gets to meet all these people and more as he discovers his grandfather’s past, his hidden talent, and with the unveiling of secrets comes the unveiling of the real life monsters that threaten all of Miss Peregrine’s children.

Thoughts

I didn’t expect this book to take its time introducing the world of Miss Peregrine and her children but it did. We spend a great portion of the beginning with the narrator in therapy over the death of his grandfather. This book also takes its time with introducing the danger that results in the ending conflict. Most of the book is finding out if the children are real and then really exploring the world in which the children live in. I wasn’t expecting this.

I think that the concept of how the children stay young for an infinite amount of time is really intriguing and sets up the next books for a million different possible adventures. I also love that the element of the War World II is thrown in a little. I’m not sure how much that comes into play in the next book but there’s definitely quite a few possibilities.

There’s a lot of intriguing things happening in this novel from a historical context, the journey both physical and mental, to the age suspended children and Miss Peregrine who keeps them in a strange paradise where to leave is to die.

Also: Worth mentioning is the pictures throughout the story. They play a major role throughout and are really pretty interesting all on their own. I think the way the author collected all the photographs is really great.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in the first of a three book series.

The movie comes out September 30th, 2016.

 

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Five Benefits to Reading More

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“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”
Carl Sagan

Whether it’s a newspaper, a simple online article, a nook book, magazine, or novel, there’s a reason you should keep reading long after you’re required to.  In fact, here’s five reasons why you should consider reading more.

1. Brain Exercise

The visual aspect of reading exercises the occipital lobe which helps imagination, creativity, and decision making. Reading also helps with communication skills and reading comprehension. No matter what job you have you’ll probably have to read, write, or verbally communicate in some form or fashion. These skills can all be improved by exercising your brain through reading. So not only do you gain more knowledge but you also improve important aspects of your life.

2. Reduces Stress

It’s no surprise to those who read for pleasure that reading is a great way to de-stress. Whether it’s a horror, a romance, biography, or fantasy, there’s a genre that interests everyone.

“A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.” –Reading for Stress Relief

For this to work you have pick something that you actually like to read. If the newspaper stresses you out then read about your favorite hobby. In the digital age it’s easier than ever to find great stories.

3. Attention Span

The Statistic Brain Research Institute lists the average attention span in 2015 to be around 8.25 seconds. In 2000 the average attention span was around 12 seconds (source). This is linked to the way that we now receive information and the changes in technology. Focusing on a book for 15-30 minutes a day lets you focus on one immersive task at a time which in turn helps your attention span.

4. Empathy

“Literature with complex, developed themes and characters appears to let readers occupy or adopt perspectives they might otherwise not consider…” –Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter

Studies like the one done by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology show that reading Harry Potter has proven to increase empathy. But it’s not just Harry Potter that does this. Any book that gets you to examine the life of someone different from yourself helps to develop empathy.

It’s been told many times that readers get to experience a million lives and live in a million different places. Well, in the life outside of books, readers have also developed better ways of communicated with others.

The world is enormous! There are tons of cultures and personalities interacting with each other on a daily basis. If you could learn to understand and better communicate with the people around you, wouldn’t you?

5. Knowledge

There are lots of reasons why you should read more but I think one of the most important reasons is gaining more knowledge. There’s been many times where I just wanted to read a book for fun and found myself learning something new in the process. From gardening to 1800’s Russian society, the learning is endless! Whether you pick up a book with the intention to learn or not, you’ll always learn something new.

This new found knowledge could be skills, human nature, societies, different cultural practices, and so much more.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
James Baldwin

Whatever or however you read, the point is to read.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Goodreads.com

Grab a copy of this book right now. It’s worth the read.

If you don’t believe me, check out BuzzFeed’s page. They have an article titled “Me Before You” Is The Movie That’s Going To Emotionally Wreck You. Here’s the link where you read their article on it.

I feel a little bad because I hadn’t heard of this book until I watched the trailer a couple days ago. It seems like a lot of really good books don’t get the attention they deserve until they hit the big screen.

As soon as I saw the trailer I knew I had to read the book. It took me all of 10 minutes from pressing the play button on YouTube to pressing the purchase button on my Nook.

No buyers remorse here.

Plot

Louisa Clark is a quirky, 26 year old waitress who is perfectly happy with her small town life. The only problem is that the diner she’s been working for the last seven years is closing  up and she has to find a new job so she can continue to support her family. She works a couple awful jobs before an opportunity that she’s not quite sure of comes along. The job is being the caretaker of Will, a quadriplegic, ex-daredevil who used to live his life in the biggest ways possible, at least until an accident left him wheelchair bound. Will is also, more importantly, an asshole.

Louisa instantly feels from the moment she meets Will that he already hates her and thinks she’s stupid. As they months go by, Louisa and Will become comfortable around each and they form an unlikely friendship.

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Slashfilm.com

This story is more than just about Louisa and Will; their love and their personal growth. The story is fulled with the people who make up their lives from Louisa’s training obsessed boyfriend to Will’s overprotective mother. In some chapters we even get to see the story through their eyes.

What Me Before You really excels at is exploring the difficult life and choices of the quadriplegic and their caretakers.

The book surprises the reader with funny scenes that break apart all the serious moments. Me Before You is more than just a love story or a story about a man and his hired caretaker. At it’s heart, it’s about how people and situations can change you so completely that you are quite literally never the same.

The movie comes out June 3rd and stars the very handsome Sam Claflin. So, you know where I’ll be.

This is a book that I’m definitely glad I got my hands on.

I have to warn you that although you’ll laugh, you’ll also cry. This book is full of heartache and not all stories come with a happy ending.

 

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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Heir of Fire is #3 in the Throne of Glass series. In the last book, Crown of Midnight, Celaena struggled with serving the king while trying to undermine him. She was really struggling with the fact that she wanted to resist the king but she didn’t want to be in the resistance movement. She still held on to the hope that at the end of the day, after everything she had learned, she could escape into a life with no obligations. In Heir of Fire we watch this hope slip away as she realizes that she has to accept her birthright and her magic.
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Plot

Celaena is sent on a mission by the king to kill in Wendlyn but she ignores that mission to seek out Queen Maeve of the Fae. To get answers about the Wyrdkeys, Celaena makes a deal with the Queen that results in her living with the Demi-Fae, dealing with the bossy and demanding Rowan, and having to fight monsters from outside and in.

Calaena isn’t the only character we follow in the book. Chaol is left trying to figure out which side he stands on as Dorian grapples with magic. There’s also a few new characters thrown in like Manon, head of a powerful witch clan.

Thoughts

One of my favorite story lines is a new character named Manon. I really liked learning about the dynamic within the witches. It’s interesting to see into the enemy’s eyes and it makes me wonder if Manon will always be the enemy to Celaena.

I really like this series and I really like the new characters coming in. I love that we’re now seeing characters like Manon and the Queen of the Fae introduced into the story. As always, I continue to look forward to reading the entire series.

One issue I have with the book is that Celaena was sent to Wendlyn on a mission that had to be completed by a certain time frame or else people she loved would be killed. After she joins up with Rowan, she never thinks about it again even though she has no idea how long her training is going to last. She doesn’t worry about what will happen to Chaol when the deadline passes because she has no intention of completing the mission.

Here is one of the scenes that stood out to me in the book.

“That was when they noticed that every musician on the stage was wearing mourning black. That was when they shut up. And when the conductor raised his arms, it was not a symphony that filled the cavernous space.

It was the Song of Eyllwe.

Then Song of Fenharrow. And Melisande. And Terrasen. Each nation that had people in those labour camps.

And finally, not for pomp or triumph, but to mourn what they had become, they played the Song of Adarlan.

When the final note finished, the conductor turned to the crowd, the musicians standing with him. As one, they looked to the boxes, to all those jewels bought with the blood of a continent. And without a word, without a bow or another gesture, they walked off the stage.

The next morning, by royal decree, the theatre was shut down.

No one saw those musicians or their conductor again.”
Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire

If you would like to read my review of Throne of Glass or Crown of Midnight, click on their highlighted titles or check them out under the Book tab up above.

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Crown of Midnight is #2 in the Throne of Glass series. While Thrown of Glass was about Celaena winning the title of Champion of the King, Crown of Midnight follows what happens when she has to start doing the king’s dirty work for him. Dispatching the Kings enemy’s is just a small portion of what’s going on in this book.

To read my review of Throne of Glass, click here.

Plot

Evil is lurking in the castle again and Celaena begins to receive more pressure to get involved in the resistance and to solve the mystery of the cloaked figure in the hallway.

What is the King hiding? How is he so powerful?

Celaena just wants to get through these years of service and finally have a nice, simple life, far, far, away from the castle but it doesn’t seem that it’s her destiny. Unfortunately, the harder she fights to stay out of the fray, the more the people around her get hurt.

Thoughts

In Throne of Glass it’s pretty easy to predict what the course of the book is going to look like. No one is really surprised that Celaena wins Champion of the King or that she starts to have feelings for both Dorian and Chaol.

In Crown of Midnight I feel like the series takes the reader on a lot more twists and turns. There’s still the things you would expect to see from the series but there’s a long journey taken from the beginning of the book to the end.

What I really like about this series is that the author has a great sense of pacing. I like that I learn enough about Celaena to be interested in her background but there’s still so much, as a reader, that I don’t know yet. I can tell by reading the series that she’s planned out the series and things in the first book are directly linked to this book. It all flows smoothly, which is really great to read.

I love that I have a good grasp of the world but there’s still so much left to learn.

Roland gave her a courtier’s smile. “And what sort of work do you do for my uncle?”
Dorian shifted on his feet and Chaol went very still, but Celaena returned Roland’s smile and said, “I bury the king’s opponents where nobody will ever find them.”
Sarah J. Maas, Crown of Midnight

I also discovered that there’s several prequel novellas to this series. Again, I love this series because I can tell the author has really done a lot of planning, world building, and back story.

Evenually I hope to read all the prequel’s and finish up this series.

Until then, check out more of my reviews!

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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If you’re looking for a quick read about a girl doomed to live in the bubble of her own home due to a rare disease, look no further than Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

“Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life.”
Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

Plot

The main character in  Everything, Everything is the bubble girl and her bubble is her house. She doesn’t remember a time when she got to step outside or feel the breeze or talk to anyone besides her mother, her nurse, and her teachers. She reads and then rereads and lives her life confined and she’s OK with that. She has to be. If she leaves the house then she’ll get sick; really, really sick. And so she makes peace with her limited life.

That is until a boy moves into the house right next to her. He’s a ball of energy, climbing the roof and the walls, and he’s curious about the girl who is always at the window but never on the lawn.

Thoughts

It’s what you would expect; they talk, become friends, fall in love, and then everything, absolutely everything, is changed.

This story runs through your emotions and it’s really one of those book worth checking out.

There’s unexpected adventures and unsettling discoveries.

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