Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #4

Title: Garden of Impossible Things
Genre: Adult Upmarket

When we were born, my sister and I, we were impossible. Our mother had been told repeatedly—and in no uncertain terms—that she would never bear her own children. Yet there we were, red, screaming and very much alive, though not without complication. We would spend the first eight weeks of our lives in the NICU, jaundiced and premature, impossibly small.

It’s how our father would refer to us: his impossible girls. It was a moniker we embraced. After all, there was a certain freedom that came with living when you weren’t meant to exist. And we had been just that—impossible. Two wild girls, with wild sun-stained curls, practically raising themselves while their widower father worked to keep food in their bellies and a roof over their heads. We were eleven before he gave up practicing law and moved us from the city. Our new home a small town in northern Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. Our father had bought a ramshackle Victorian on one corner of Main Street that had a failing bookshop on the ground floor and a three-bedroom apartment spread over the two stories above.

There was a garden out back, surrounded by eight-foot high brick walls with no gate and a curved glass roof, inaccessible except through a window in the back room of the shop. It was there that we played during endless summer days. And it was there, six years later, that I discovered my sister’s body, tangled in weeds, pale and naked, impossibly cold.


  1. Ooh! Intriguing ending to this section. But I feel like there is too much backstory up front. I like the reason for them being called impossible, but we don't need to go back right to their birth at the beginning of the book. It feels old-fashioned, like something from a Victorian novel, especially as you try to cover the next 16 or so years into a single paragraph after that.

    As an opening this is all 'telling' and I get no real sense of the MC as she is now, or her voice. Backstory is something that can be scattered through the book as it is needed. What I want in an opening is to know who the character is now and what she is doing.

  2. I think your story starts with your last paragraph.
    The rest, that which is necessary and you may want to consider some tightening, could be seeded in through out your story. I did get confused at one point. At first there is a mother and then there is a widowed father...

  3. I love the first and last paragraphs, but the middle paragraph feels like a lot of telling. I’d like to see snippets of the relationship between the twins before one dies.

  4. Wow! Talk about a sucker punch - but in the best of ways! I agree somewhat with the comments above. There is a lot of telling, but to be honest, it lulled me into a false sense of what I thought the book would be and just made the unexpected horror of her finding her sister's body that much more impactful. I enjoyed it... and literally said a loud WHOA when I read it!

  5. I'm finding it tricky to connect to this one. I tend to be drawn more to openers that establish character and intrigue through vivid scene-setting—this is reading to me a little bit like a biography: parentage, birth, and early childhood summed up in a few graceful lines. I don’t think there’s enough intrigue at the top to make me feel invested in the descriptions of the girls’ childhood. I’d open with the body instead!

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