Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #19

TITLE: The Age of Our Hearts
GENRE: MG - (very recent) historical fiction

Even before the 9/11 attacks, eighth grade soccer teammates Mel Miller and Rima Hassan are questioning whether they should be friends. After the attacks, the girls try to mend their troubled relationship. But can a broken friendship do anything but hurt, especially in such a broken time?

It’s kind of silly to have an athletic award ceremony at a public library, but nobody asked me. And I’m jumping-out-of-my-skin excited anyway.

This is the first award I’ve ever gotten, unless you count the time I won a rubber frog keychain in the ring toss at the school carnival. Realistically, that doesn’t seem like something anyone should count.
I’ve been ticking off the days to the ceremony in a tiny corner of the sky-blue journal Rima and I share. And I’m still holding out a final, shaky hope that Rima will show up. That my best friend will be here. Like she promised.

My mom sits next to me, smiling as though I’m winning an Oscar or something. My dad’s on my mom’s other side, still wearing his custodian pants. The deep navy blends into the darkness, which I’m hoping means no one will notice he’s a janitor. Maybe the baggy blue pants can pass for hospital scrubs, like the ones Tory Tyson’s stepdad always wears to our games.

We listen to the Courier staff hand out the other awards. There’s the longest-serving Little League coach. The Teammate of the Year, who raised a bunch of money when her tennis partner’s house got hit by a tornado.

My dad curls one hairy, lanky arm around my mom. With his stretched-out hand, he taps my shoulder, then nods at the program resting in my lap.

“There’s your name, up next! That’s our Mel-ificent Mel.”


  1. awells

    I think you have a great upper MG voice, the first-person POV, self-consciousness about her father, etc. I think your logline is wordier than it has to be, and doesn't hint at the very likeable character we meet in these first few paragraphs.

  2. Really nice opening here. The logline is a bit vague -- maybe specify exactly why the two friends are having trouble. Other than what could be the obvious, I'm hoping there is a specific, more personal incident that drives the two of them apart. Maybe focus on that in your logline instead of the overall horror of 9/11 -- bring it closer to home, so to speak.

    The voice hooked me right away, and I felt like it stayed true to MG throughout. The fact she's anxious about her father's custodian pants and that she's worried her friend won't show up -- both very good.

  3. I think the voice is good and the characters inner thoughts seem accurate and believeable. The only suggestion is to add something more of a hook or action for starters.

    I think that a story set at the 911 timeframe would be intriguing for a lot of MG readers. I think you have a very nice start here!

  4. I like this premise a lot and the opening, but to me it sounds more YA right from the opening line about the awards at the library being silly. Tt's more of a cynical voice of a teenager than a generally enthusiastic, unjaded preteen. As someone else mentioned, it could maybe pass for upper-MG...maybe a 13 or 14yo. The cool thing about a 9/11 book for today's MG readers is that they weren't born when it happened, so to them it is like ancient history. Best of luck to you with this. I think you've got a great premise to work with!