About My Query: BABY STEPS

flip-flop weatherHappy Friday! Time for another About My Query post, this time from MVA. Let’s go!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

When Brooklyn Hart finds out that her father has knocked up twenty-three year old Nicole, she doesn’t think things can get any worse. That is, until her mother invites Nicole to move in with them — and she says yes! Mrs. Hart says nothing has to change, but meanwhile she’s busy pulling out old maternity clothes for Nicole and helping her pick out cribs. Brooklyn refuses to welcome Nicole into their family and can barely even look at her father, who promises that this was a one-time indiscretion. The only one as weirded out by this whole situation as Brooklyn is Mr. Rogers, the family cat. Used to Mrs. Hart’s undivided attention, he retaliates with a hunger strike.

In an effort to escape the awkwardness at home, Brooklyn spends more time working at Kilburn Clothing Company, a preppy clothing line famous for its dark, cologne-reeking stores and nearly pornographic ads. Brooklyn finds refuge in the routine and even budding romance as she begins to fall for real-life Kilburn model, Tyler Stratton. The only trick will be learning to trust Tyler after her father’s recent betrayal.

My debut contemporary YA novel, BABY STEPS, follows Brooklyn’s trials and tribulations as she struggles to accept Nicole and redefine her idea of family. Upon your request, I am prepared to send the full manuscript, which is complete at 60,000 words. BABY STEPS will appeal to readers who enjoy the works of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti and the mix of family drama, personal growth, and young romance that they never fail to deliver.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

All the best,
MVA

This starts off great — “knocked up” is a great indicator of Brooklyn’s voice — but immediately leads to a question: who is Nicole? Her father’s girlfriend? Fiance? Random chickie on the street? With the next sentence, I want to know even more, although some of my questions are answered as we move on. “One-time indiscretion”, indeed. (Although, does that get a hyphen? Grammar gods out there?)

So the family stuff is good, but I’m less invested (possibly because there’s no immediate drama) in Brooklyn’s job. Does she actually work on one of the stores, or in corporate headquarters? The second would seem a more likely place for her to meet a model, since it might also be easier to her to just put in more hours, without going through attempting to get more scheduled at a mall store akin to Abercrombie & Fitch. I used to work at a Gap — it’s not all that easy to just get more hours. As for Tyler, I want to more more about his relationship with Brooklyn. Does he give her reasons to not trust him, or is she just gun-shy because of her father?

Moving on to the final paragraph, I’m again looking for some kind of drama. Does the story take us to the birth? Does something happen to Mr. Rogers, the hunger-striking cat (nice!)? What reason do we have to read this story at this time? I’m not saying you have to give away your ending, but I can speak from experience that contemporary YA without a major hook — without that further plot interest — are a tough sell. Basically, I think this needs one more beat.

Readers, what do you think? If you saw this on the jacket of a book in a store, would you pick it up? And if not, how would you fix it?

Photo above my Flickr user viveee, used under a Creative Commons license.

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