Beginning The Daily Writer

I’ve decided that I’m going to work my way through The Daily Writer by Fred White which is a book of writing exercises. 366 of them to be exact. Every morning, along with my morning coffee, I am going to flip this book open and tackle one of the exercises within, either the one for the current day or another one if that one doesn’t seem to fit me very well. I’m excited about it because I haven’t known how to break into writing, how to ready myself and begin to write something that’s fiction and not autobiographical. Believe me, I’ve got autobiography down, but even I get tired of hearing about myself all the time. It’s time for me to branch out and write fiction instead.

I am hesitant, because I wonder how much I have to say. I wonder if there are any stories inside me and, if there are, what they are and who they’re about. I want to write beautiful things, to construct dream catchers out of sentence strings, to create a world where good triumphs over the rotten, the ugly, the mundane. I want to create a magical place where anything can happen. Maybe that is too much to ask of myself, but all I know is that I have to try. I feel that, when the words start coming, the world will open up as if a black walnut shell with a hinge, and inside will be this perfectly wild nut.


Stephanie Perkins — Anna and the French Kiss

This book is a comfort food type of book. You know the type: warm as cinnamon rolls, sweet as lemon scones, keeps you up all night reading like a vanilla latte… I admit that I loved this book. I found it through a book suggestion on goodreads, and it was just the romantic comedy I needed after reading Delirium earlier this week.

There isn’t a lot of drama in this book. It’s an easy read, the kind of book that a girl can easily devour. Some of the reviewers said that they were looking for something more, but I wasn’t. It didn’t matter that Anna’s problems were first world problems or that there wasn’t a lot of depth. I wanted something lighthearted, something that would make me forget my problems and just smile for a while.

If you’re looking for a bunch of lovable characters, a fun plot set in Paris, and a book that will make you laugh, then this is the book for you. If you read this one and you still haven’t had enough, check out Lola and the Boy Next Door, which is book two in the Anna series. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my to-read list. (:

Lauren Oliver — Delirium

Lauren Oliver’s novel Delirium is a must-read for any lover of dystopian Young Adult novels, which is the category that this book falls into. That said, this book is a fast read, but it is at times challenging.

The plot centers around the fact that in this futuristic United States, scientists have determined that love in all its forms is a disease that must be cured. When citizens reach the age of 18, they must undergo “the cure”, which is a type of brain surgery designed to eliminate the body of most of its feelings in order to protect the order and sameness of society.

But what happens if, before you can be cured, you fall in love?

17 year old Lena is counting down the days until she can receive “the cure” just after her 18th birthday. Her whole life hinges on this procedure. It’s against the law to refuse the procedure. Every citizen who lives within the city’s electric fences is required to receive the cure. However, when she is only a couple months shy of her birthday, Lena meets someone and falls in love.

It is this awakening to feelings that sets off a series of events that changes Lena’s life forever. For the first time, she begins to question authority. She begins to question if what she’s been taught her entire life is true. What if everything you’ve ever been told is a lie? What if your entire world was turned upside down and you had to choose between the life you’ve expected and a new, scary and illegal life that may be the only way to truly live?

This is a novel about rebellion and taking chances. It’s a novel about awakening to the possibilities within yourself, and it’s a novel about a struggle to find meaning in a world where all passion and love has been wiped away.

It’s really difficult to write this review without giving away the plot. Let me just say this. If you’ve read this far and you’re wondering if this book is for you, it probably is. I wouldn’t recommend it for children, though. I’d give it a PG-13 rating because it is violent in several sections. The violence did disturb me, but overall, the message of this book was powerful. It was an unforgettable read.

to be wild, to be free

He asked her what type of animal 
she'd most like to be. 
Without hesitation, she replied, 
"An auk." He wrinkled his nose, 
confused and dismissive, 
skating over her answer 
to answer his question himself. 
"I'd be a lion," he said. 
"King of the jungle."

They sat in silence, 
on the edge of the concrete wall
that bordered the parking lot
outside the youth center. 
Sweat beaded on her forehead, 
and a single drop
slid down her temple. 

He jumped down and began to dribble 
the basketball, every so often
tossing it against the wall
and scrambling to catch it 
as it bounced back. 

She sat and stared, seeing not
the cracked asphalt 
and peeling paint, but instead
the glistening of the sun 
on the surface of the sea, 
imagining the salt spray 
and the whoosh as she, 
wings spread auk-like, 
dove down to catch
a single gleaming silver fish.  

In that moment, she could both fly
and swim. She wasn't too thick 
for the desks at school, too heavy 
to jump rope, too rounded
to wear a stringed bikini. 

She was no longer the only girl
she knew who couldn't swim, 
the only one who wore a bulky 
orange lifejacket
when in girl scouts 
they'd practiced paddling a canoe
in the deep end of the city pool. 

As an auk, she was sleek
and beautiful, diving down and down 
into the glass green sea, 
finally in just the right body
to be wild, to be free.

further down

The day skitters past her, 
shadowy and elusive. 

She reaches for it, 
but it slips and wriggles
like salmon fighting upstream, 
always upstream of her, 
just out of reach. 

The shadows lengthen, 
the sky greying 
as the fireflies 
punch through the gloom 
with their tiny lanterns
winking and winking. 

His face lights up 
in the flash of a match 
behind cupped hands,
and the scent of smoke 
snakes across the shadows
that lie between them, 

like the way he used to talk to her
back when they shared a bed, 
tangled up their limbs and lives. 

He was always a sharp breeze
away from closing off, 
always one whisper away 
from telling her he loved her, 
and she imagined some nights
after they'd finished having sex
that he'd grabbed her hair 
in his fists
and pulled her face to his
and kissed her open mouth roughly
instead of pushing her face
and open mouth down, 
always open mouthed
and sucking 
further down.

Lois Lowry — The Giver

I just finished reading this book by Lois Lowry. A friend of mine read it in his book group and told me that he thought that I’d enjoy it. According to Goodreads, it’s a Young Adult dystopian novel. I’ve read several books in this genre, but I wasn’t aware that the genre had a name until this week. Hooray for learning new things!

This book challenges the way we see the world. It asks us how far we’d be willing to go for peace, for sameness, for a controlled life where everyone has the same resources and opportunities and same amount of security. Would we even want that if it were an option? And at what cost?

This book is also, to a point, a coming of age novel. The main character, Jonas, grows from being a child to being a young adult in just a little over a year. His learning curve is sped up, as he struggles to come to terms with all the lessons about life that The Giver teaches him in just that short period of time.

My only disappointment with this book is where it ended. It felt like the story cut off at an unusual place. I would have liked for it to go a little bit further. I did, however, find out that there are 3 other books by Lois Lowry in this Giver series. One of the other books does, I think, pick off where this book left off.

All in all, it was a good read. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. If she had pulled the ending together a little neater, I would have given it a 4.5 or so. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys this genre.



I admit it: I’m addicted to YA fiction

I just finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago, after wanting to read it for years. I admit it. I have an addiction to Young Adult fiction.

This book was everything that I expected it to be and more. It’s a coming of age story, a story about a boy who’s quiet and often left out. Stephen Chbosky’s character Charlie says,

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

I like Charlie’s introspection, like the way that the book is set up as a series of letters he sends anonymously to a guy who’s a friend of an acquaintance of his. The book really allows the reader to get into Charlie’s head.

What I like best about Young Adult fiction like this is its honesty. When viewed through a YA lens, life seems so much clearer to me. Is this because I missed out on so much when I was a teenager? Am I trying to relive those years to pack more into them? I’m not certain. I only know that books like this one make me wanna read more, make me wanna write more, make me wanna connect with someone else and stop hiding in my shell.

I liked that Charlie was a reader and a writer, that he thought deeply about the people around him even to the point of over-thinking things. I wanted to take him out for coffee and a doughnut, wanted to sit down with him and Sam and Patrick and talk about life for a while.

I’ve always felt that I too was on the outside looking in, always felt like I didn’t quite belong. Through books like this one, I am able to access parts of me that I keep hidden and realize truths I didn’t know I believed until I read them and realized, “yes, yes, me too!”