Monday, March 1, 2021

Are You Hooked? #9

TITLE: Broken Bird
GENRE: YA Suspense

Cole Zabek looked like he was destined to die young and become a 
vengeful spirit. Or maybe he looked like a romantic hero who should have been 
brooding on a windswept moor instead of standing in the doorway of a high 
school cafeteria. Either way, I couldn’t stop staring.

Beside me, Cole’s sister Julia pressed her hands flat against the table. She 
spoke to me, but her eyes were riveted on her older brother. 
“Remember, Callie, do not ask him anything about….”

“Anything. I promise.” Even without Julia’s warnings, I wouldn’t have asked 
questions. I couldn’t think of any that weren’t fatally awkward.

Julia caught Cole’s attention, and, at the tiniest gesture of her fingers, he 
moved across the room toward us. 

“He’s only been home for a week, and he’s still…fragile.”
“I know, Jules. I know.”

In the six months I’d known Julia, she’d talked constantly about her 
brother. He was smart. He was sensitive. He had a poet’s soul. When I asked why 
he didn’t go to our school, she squeezed her jaw tight, and her chin shook.

I had apologized for prying, but she took a shaky breath. “Don’t
apologize, Callie. I’m telling you, it’s just….”



“Private,” she finished. 

“You don’t have to….”

“I said I want to. I want you to know who I am, and Cole—he’s like a part 
of me.” She set down the napkin and pressed her palms together like she was 
praying. “He’s been in the hospital."


  1. This is great. It moves and it flows, and I'm already invested in the friendship between Callie and Julia, not to mention completely intrigued by what's going on with Cole. This is voicy and I wouldn't change a word in that first paragraph. Great, realistic dialogue, too. I'd definitely read on!

  2. Wonderful. I like the pacing and the intrigue. I'm hooked.

  3. Well done! Though I can't help thinking it might be even stronger if you could reconfigure it somehow to drop "looked like" from each of the first two sentences (i.e., Cole Zabek was destined to die young...). They just feel a bit clunky is all. But I'm definitely hooked!

  4. I'm hooked. It reads perfectly in your genre. I'd love to read more!

  5. Great pacing, flow is good, writing is tight.. don't hate me for saying this but it has a real "Twilight" feel to it (the book not the movie), I am definitely hooked. Well done!

  6. Nice prose, interesting hook -- especially since it's *not* listed as fantasy or paranormal. I'd read the next few pages to see what's so special about these siblings.

  7. I even like the title. It's stimulating. First paragraph is especially sharp, though I agree about the repetition of "looked like." I have little doubt you could tighten that even more. I'd definitely keep reading. Well done.

  8. Well done. Agree about the "looked like" use. Love the way you conveyed so much in this opening. I love Callie and Jules already, and can't wait to meet Cole. I'd read on.

  9. so much intrigue, would definitely continue reading! You could consider starting your opening line by acquainting us with the speaker before launching into the description of the boy, as we don't realize this story is first POV until the end of the first paragraph otherwise. Good luck!

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