Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Letters to the Dead
GENRE: YA Contemporary

I knew I was awake when the rolling wall of pain hit me in the chest. I clenched my teeth and hung on until my heart stopped its spasms and I could draw breath without gasping. Prying open my eyes, I stretched out a hand and smoothed the frayed edges of Toby’s flannel blanket, my brain still fogged. The new prescription was not enough to cocoon me for long with its caress; it only dulled my senses and numbed my brain.

That first night, my aunt had left me the entire bottle with strict instructions on how and when to take them; after discovering I had swallowed them all, she was careful to lock them away. Sometimes I think she only did it because the doctor yelled at her and Uncle David and threatened to report them to the police after my stomach was pumped. A child of fourteen in this state, he had shouted, is too young to know what could happen. He was wrong.

I really couldn’t blame her for blaming me and wanting me gone. After all, I did, too.

“Auntie,” I said before my head rolled back against the seat. My tongue felt glued to the top of my mouth; I had to work to get enough spit to loosen it.

“Yes, Gracie?” Her head swung around, eyes connecting with mine in the rear-view mirror.

“Where… where are you taking me?”

“I told you.”

“Don’t make me go. I’m sorry. Auntie, I won’t do it again.”


  1. I like your "rolling wall of pain." Nice.

    Just a few suggestions. The first thing to pull me out of your writing was: " brain still fogged." I think that sentence reads better if you end it after "blanket." Also, cocoon and caress evoke the same imagery, so I would use one of them but not both. Last suggestion, break up the first sentence in the 2nd paragraph into two sentences where you've got a semi colon.

  2. I loved all of this though I felt some of the sentences didn't flow as well as they could have. Sometimes it was a bit choppy, but overall I love this beginning. The description was great, and the i loved the way the scene played out. I also adore the title and I am beyond intrigued.

  3. I definitely want to read on - very intriguing. The use of "Auntie" was a bit jarring to me though. It made me think the narrator is very young, which isn't the case. In her internal dialogue, the narrator uses "aunt," so I think some explanation for "Auntie" would help.

  4. I was a little surprised that the MC is only 14 - I think the phrase "cocoon me for long with its caress" felt too mature for that. I'm definitely left wondering where she's going, though, along with why she's depressed and where her parents are. Good job creating mystery to get the reader intrigued.

  5. Yep, hooked! The first paragraph was fine, but the second paragraph and the subsequent conversation tightened it all up. :)

  6. It was pretty intriguing for me, and I liked the voice for the most part. I would read more to try to get some of my questions answered.

    Reading these short excerpts makes me a little confused about my own perceptions of questions sometimes. Like, I'm frustrated because her illness is very vague to me. I'm frustrated because I can't figure out whether she just got her stomach pumped and this trip is right after (because she seems confused about where she's going) or it's been a while, the trip was well planned, and she's just constantly confused because of the meds.

    If that's revealed soon, then I guess it's fine. I'm really curious about where she's being taken. Institution?

  7. I liked the voice, and I am intrigued. I just wish a little more was revealed about why she was taking the medication. Also, the connection between the first and second paragraph could be stronger. Nice start!