Day 19: The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

november

It’s November again, and if you know anyone who has ever thought about writing a book, you may already know: November is NaNoWriMo.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo parses out to National Novel Writing Month. Basically, writers are challenged to write 50,000 words—a novel—in the month of November. The challenge started in 1999 with 21 participants, and today has grown to nearly 500,000 ambitious writers each year.

My eighth novel, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse, actually started out as my first novel, and I started writing it for NaNoWriMo 2003. I got about 20,000 words in and could never get any further. Almost ten years (and seven completed and published books) later I picked up that first draft again with an aim to revive it. I realized then why I’d never managed to finish it: it was—pardon my French—crap.

But I still liked the core idea; the questions I’d been trying to answer still wouldn’t let me go. So in late 2013 I completely scrapped the entire first draft and started over again with just the kernel of the idea, and what I wrote became my eighth book (and one of my favorites).

Over the course of the last ten years, I’ve grappled with the question when would-be-writers ask me: “Do you recommend I try NaNoWriMo?” There are pros, of course, but there are also cons. And thus, this post.

First, the pros.

If you’ve always wanted to write, anything that gives you a nudge to get started is good. You can finally see if what you thought was a book inside you, waiting to get out, was actually a book; or if maybe it was just an idea you had but aren’t really passionate about. Writing isn’t a glamorous activity. There’s eye strain involved; there’s carpal tunnel and shoulder and back problems. And it’s not “hard” in the sense that coal mining or digging ditches is hard, but it’s hard in the sense that it brings up every insecurity you never knew you had, every fear, every resistance to judgment, every vulnerability. If you want to write well, you have to dive into those fears and vulnerabilities, and that can be hard. So, to my point, if NaNo (as it’s shortened) can give you that push over the fear hurdles, that’s great.

And, in theory, one could develop a habit from this. If you sit down and write every day for 30 days, by the end of 30 days you’ll have a writing habit, and that’s what it is to be a writer.

But on the other hand, the cons.

On the other hand, the 50,000-word mark is a not-entirely-arbitrary number; it’s the very lowest baseline for what most consider a “novel” as opposed to a “novella.” (See here and here.) It may come as no surprise that if you asked a hundred novelists how long it takes to write a novel, the most common answer would not be “one month.” Certainly some people write that fast. I do not. Even if I’d spent a year planning out my novel, I doubt I could write one in a month.

And as I said, 50,000 is really a baseline. Most novels (depending on genre) are longer. If you want to technically write a complete novel, you’ll be writing more than 50K. But beyond that, 50,000 words in 30 days amounts to almost 1,700 words per day. I’m a seasoned writer, and generally when I’m in my writing groove I aim for 1,500 to 2,000 per day. A huge number of writers aim for 1000 per day, every day (not just when they’re in their writing groove). The most words I’ve ever written in one day is somewhere over 6,000, and I’ll tell you, that is exhausting. 1,700 every day for 30 days (especially for a new writer) is a feat that leaves most people completely drained. Anyone who ends up writing 50,000 words in one month is likely to be too tired to continue. I’ve known far too many people who go hard in November and then don’t touch their work again for months.

In my opinion, a better idea is to adapt NaNoWriMo to more realistic aims. If you want to build a writing habit, decide on a goal to write every day for 30 days for an hour. An hour is a reasonable amount of time to stare at your computer or pad of paper, even if at the end you only have 200 words. It’s the habit you’re trying to build, not the word count (just as I’m firming up my own writing habit with these daily blog posts). The word count will come with time and practice. When I started my first book, a 200-word day was not uncommon. Here I am, seven years later, and now a 1,000-word day is pretty easy. Start small and build up.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to write a novel, then by all means, start writing a novel. You don’t have to complete it in one month. Two of the hardest parts of writing a novel are starting it, and then finishing it. If you’ve done both, you’re miles ahead of the game—even if it takes you 31 days, or 90, or a year.

I think the idea behind NaNo has merit, but the execution of it leads people to focus too much on goals rather than on process, and further, leaves the “winners” exhausted. If a person’s goal is simply to put 50,000 words on paper (or computer) in 30 days, that’s one thing. But if your goal is to write a real, quality piece of work, or to build a writing practice, I think the NaNo project is best if adapted to your own needs, and if “success” is measured in some way other than 50,000 words.


The Universes Inside the Lighthouse by Pam StuckyP.S. Did you know you can read my entire first YA sci-fi adventure book, free, online? And if you’re a parent or educator, or just someone who enjoys activities, check out the free, thought-provoking, skill-building activities at the end of every chapter! The Universes Inside the Lighthouse (and subsequent books in the series) was inspired by my love of books like A Wrinkle In Time or shows like Doctor Who. It’s my own exploration and answer to the deep and sometimes unanswerable questions: what else is out there? What if we could meet aliens from other planets? What if everything were possible? What’s more, through the power of truth-through-fiction, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse addresses issues of loneliness and compassion and gives parents and educators an opening to discuss these challenging but important issues. I love this series so much and I hope you will too! Start reading chapter one here! And feel free to spread the word!


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Day 10: A House With No Books

One time in college, I went to stay the weekend at a friend’s house for the first time. As one does.

I expected the house to be normal. As one does.

But this house was not normal.

There were no books. I don’t even remember any bookshelves. There were no magazines lying out on tables, decorative or otherwise. Nowhere was there any evidence of the written word.

It felt disorienting and uncomfortable and awkward. Like I’d walked into a house with no oxygen. Like I’d discovered something about these people that no one was supposed to know.

“Why do you write?” someone asked me the other day.

The only real answer I could give was: “How do you not?”

shelf


The Universes Inside the Lighthouse by Pam StuckyP.S. Did you know you can read my entire first YA sci-fi adventure book, free, online? And if you’re a parent or educator, or just someone who enjoys activities, check out the free, thought-provoking, skill-building activities at the end of every chapter! The Universes Inside the Lighthouse (and subsequent books in the series) was inspired by my love of books like A Wrinkle In Time or shows like Doctor Who. It’s my own exploration and answer to the deep and sometimes unanswerable questions: what else is out there? What if we could meet aliens from other planets? What if everything were possible? What’s more, through the power of truth-through-fiction, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse addresses issues of loneliness and compassion and gives parents and educators an opening to discuss these challenging but important issues. I love this series so much and I hope you will too! Start reading chapter one here! And feel free to spread the word!


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Q&A with Author Molly Ringle on Writing and Her Persephone/Hades ‘Greek God Fan-Fiction’

If you’ve linked to this page from the story at the Huffington Post, click here to find where the Q&A left off.

molly ringle books

There are some people who were born to write, and author Molly Ringle is one of them. When I see her approach to writing and the way she writes, or hear how she talks about writing, it’s clear: for her, writing is a form of play. Words are her puppets, and she is putting on shows. She makes it all look so easy, and the books she writes are nothing less than delightful.

With the release of my latest book, The Secret of the Dark Galaxy Stone (sequel to The Universes Inside the Lighthouse), and Molly’s latest book, Immortal’s Spring, Molly and I exchanged Q&As. Read mine at Molly’s blog, and see hers below!

Pam Stucky: You have written books on such a wide variety of topics, from ghosts to cousins to your latest, a modern revival tale of Greek mythology. I know this is a horrible question, and I never really know how to answer when people ask me, but: where do you get your ideas? Do you have a bunch of ideas in a file somewhere, waiting for when you are ready to work on the next thing?

Molly Ringle: I do in fact have a story idea file! (It’s literally called that: “STORY IDEA FILE.”) It’s just a Word document, a list with a few lines about each idea. I imagine I’ll never get around to fleshing out all of them, but they are there if I want them, and I do occasionally go back into that file and pick the next book project from it. The ideas may come from a dream I had, or a story that inspired me, or an intriguing business card I found, or an intriguing historical detail I read about, or anywhere really. Often, though, the next project chooses itself by hanging around in my brain and refusing to be ignored, and it doesn’t always have to be written down in that file. With the Persephone trilogy, for instance, I knew for years and years that I’d eventually get around to rewriting that story lurking in the back of my mind. And finally I did!

First in Molly Ringle's Chrysomelia Stories series: Persephone's Orchard.
First in Molly Ringle’s Chrysomelia Stories series: Persephone’s Orchard.

PS: Immortal’s Spring, the third book in your Chrysomelia Stories series, is coming out June 1. Having written series before myself, I know it’s hard to talk about a third book in case people haven’t read the first. Give us a synopsis of the first book, Persephone’s Orchard, and what inspired you to write it. Then, to the extent that you can without spoilers, describe how the story evolves in the next two books.

MR: The first book introduces Sophie, a modern college freshman in the Pacific Northwest, who’s treated to a brief but startling visit to the spirit world, and finds out she was the goddess Persephone in a past life. She strikes up a tentative friendship with Adrian, the mysterious guy who took her there, and soon her dreams and waking life are flooded with memories going all the way back to Bronze Age Greece. It’s a retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades, but cast as a love story rather than its traditional kidnapping story.

I was inspired to write it because that was the myth that stuck with me the strongest when I was perusing my copy of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology as a kid–land of the dead, an impromptu marriage, her mother going nuts, crazy stuff happening to the seasons! It’s the kind of myth you can say so much about, because it wraps up a lot of issues within it.

So in the subsequent two volumes of my trilogy, the danger increases as Sophie and Adrian and their allies clash with a vicious anti-immortal cult. And we also unfold the stories of some other Greek gods, who have been reborn into modern bodies too. It involves many love stories and family problems, and lots of adventure and magic.

Second in the series: Underworld's Daughter.
Second in the series: Underworld’s Daughter.

PS: Would you call your series a “retelling” of one of the Greek myths? Do I have to have a solid foundation in Greek mythology to understand this series?

MR: I would say the trilogy counts as a “retelling” of the Persephone and Hades myth (and some other Greek myths too), though with many liberties taken and changes made. In one of the afterwords I call it “Greek god fan-fiction.” It ought to be accessible even to those who don’t know the mythology, but it has several fun bits of symbolism and other hat-tips in it for those who do know it.

PS: Did you do a lot of research for this series? Did you go back and read all the old Greek myths? With these stories being your own fiction, obviously you could do whatever you wanted; your stories didn’t have to stay true to the old myths. How did you decide how closely you wanted to parallel the original tales?

MR: I haven’t read all the myths–there are a lot of old sources out there!–but I did read more of them than I had ever read before. I figured I should know the existing material fairly well before I changed it all up. I read a lot of modern translations of various ancient sources (I do not speak Greek myself, ancient nor modern), and I consulted theoi.com frequently, which is an amazing site that cross-references just about every Greek mythology deity or figure ever known. Turns out the different versions of the myths sometimes contradict each other, so in changing the stories to my liking, I was pretty much only doing what every other myth-teller had ever done in the past. And I did change them a lot. Faithfulness to the myths wasn’t really my main aim; telling a good story was. My method was to use the myths as an inspiration, and to be more or less true to the character of each god (as far as we can infer such things), but beyond that I let the story go wherever it needed to in order to satisfy me.

Third in the series: Immortal's Spring.
Third in the series: Immortal’s Spring.

PS: As a writer, I often think about the idea that “every person is the protagonist of his or her own story.” Do you agree? How do you get inside your antagonists’ heads in order to make them more real to your readers?

MR: Antagonists are so hard for me! I know that in real life people do sometimes commit acts like murder or torture, or believe wholeheartedly in genocide or the scary methods of some cult. But it’s very hard for me to wrap my mind around why they think they’re justified in doing those things, and I don’t like trying to get into that headspace. Still, I give it my best shot, and I humanize my antagonists at least a little by giving them, say, fondness toward a family member or lover, or a willingness to compromise every so often, or a harmless opinion the rest of us can agree with.

As for whether the protagonists are basically me: I think a lot of them do have at least some traits I possess. But they usually get features I don’t have, too; such as notable bravery, or being fond of loud parties, or pursuing some profession that I never have and probably never will. (Sidenote: I rarely have my characters be writers. I know it works for Stephen King and many others, but it just feels too much like self-insertion for me somehow.)

Molly at home in Seattle.
Molly at home in Seattle.
If you’re joining this post linked from the Huffington Post article, start here!

PS: I was listening to a podcast interview with Paulo Coelho recently, in which he basically pooh-pooh’d the idea of characters “speaking” to authors or characters having their own lives that they revealed to authors. I know I’ve had moments where characters seemed to have lives of their own, which they were just revealing to me. What do you think? How do you build your characters? Do you have any process you use to get to know them better as you shape your stories?

MR: I have certainly had the experience of wanting to make a character do or say a particular thing, and having it just not work, because that was not in their nature. But it does sometimes take half a book or so before I get familiar enough with their nature to know such things. That first half of the first draft can be rough going for me; I can be inconsistent and unsure when it comes to characterization. Then I start to know them better, and it smooths out, and I go back and fix the earlier scenes.

But if I need help getting to the smooth-sailing stage, I find it useful to try writing up something on the side about them, like a journal entry about their likes, dislikes, history, fears, hopes, etc.; or an interview with them. Another thing that helps me is casting the characters. For some reason, when I pick an actor (or just a random photo of someone) who looks right to me, it really helps bring the character to life. It may be because I can better picture how they might move and talk, and I can notice details of their physical appearance, features I might not have thought about when the character was just an amorphous being in my head. Pinterest boards have proven excellent for this exercise!

PS: Having written as many books as you have (seven published works), has your writing process changed from when you started? What do you know now that you didn’t know when you started?

MR: By now I’ve learned that sometimes it works better for me to outline first, but I also know that sometimes it doesn’t. That is, I’m neither wholly a “plotter” nor a “pantser,” but somewhere in between on the spectrum, and that’s okay.

Also, I used to need several more revisions than I need now. I’ve gotten better at targeting what needs fixing, so that I can do the major (and minor) edits in just a few pass-throughs. When I was younger the revision process was kind of a long, ongoing, aimless mess. Now I’m more organized.

I’ve also gotten a lot better at telling myself, during the first draft, “It’s all right, it doesn’t have to be great, just keep going and we’ll fix the clunky parts later.” And I’m better at listening to myself when I say that. So that’s usually what I tell people when they want advice about how to write a book: just write the book, and let the first draft suck, because you’ll fix it later. And only by finishing a draft do you even know what the whole book needs, anyway.

Find Molly at her website, on Goodreads, at Facebook, and on Twitter!

 

 

Also published at my Huffington Post blog.


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The Reckoning, the Rumble, the Revolution: Brené Brown’s Rising Strong

Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending–to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.
Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

“No one could see the color blue until modern times.”

That’s the title of an article that came out in Business Insider earlier this year. I saw the headline when the story came out, and of course I was intrigued. No one could see blue? How could that be?

The article states, “…ancient languages didn’t have a word for blue–not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there is evidence that they may not have seen it at all.”

And then, the article poses a question: “Do you really see something if you don’t have a word for it?”

When I read Brené Brown’s books, watch her videos, and witness how the people around me react to what Brené has to say, in some ways it feels like Brené has done the equivalent of introducing our modern society to the color blue. Her research and work have given us a new vocabulary, a way to talk with each other about the ideas and feelings and fears we’ve all had but haven’t quite known how to articulate. It’s like we’ve all had a sense of the concepts Brené studies–specifically shame, vulnerability, and courage–but never before have we had the words to fully express what we’ve been feeling, or to share with each other our experiences.

I should back up and start by saying that I love Brené and am intensely grateful for her work. I think it’s telling that my autocorrect/autosuggest knows by now to offer up “Brené”–complete with that accent mark over the e–when I’m texting someone. It is not unusual for me to quote or reference her ideas. I’ve read all her books, watched most of her videos, listened to her The Power of Vulnerability CDs more times than I can remember (and passed them on to a large handful of people), and I took Brené’s eCourse offered on Oprah.com back in 2014. (Brené also now offers courses through her new online learning community, COURAGEworks). I’ve heard the terms “Brené Brown junkie,” or “the cult of Brené Brown,” and while I understand what people mean, I think the phrases are a bit unfair. The fact that something resonates with a lot of people doesn’t make it invalid. Brené’s research resonates deeply with me, and the work is work I still need to do. It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

And so it was with eager anticipation that I awaited Rising Strong, Brené’s fourth book, released last week. (See the book’s beautiful video trailer at the end of this post.)

Rising Strong continues Brené’s research into the exploration of the wholehearted journey. As Brené says, her most recent three books can be summed up as:

“The thread that runs through all three of these books,” she says, “is our yearning to live a wholehearted life.”

Brené's past books.
Brené’s previous books.

“In the past two years [since the publication of Daring Greatly], my team and I have … received emails every week from people who write, ‘I dared greatly. I got my butt kicked and now I’m down for the count. How do I get back up?’ I knew when I was writing The Gifts and Daring Greatly that I would ultimately write a book about falling down. I’ve collected that data all along, and what I’ve learned about surviving hurt has saved me again and again. It saved me and, in the process, it changed me,” she says.

Thus comes Rising Strong, a road map for how to get back up when we fall.

The Rising Strong Process includes:

  • The Reckoning: walking into our story
  • The Rumble: owning our story
  • The Revolution: writing a new ending and changing how we engage with the world

To me, Rising Strong is largely a book about story.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.
Brené Brown

We are wired for story, says Brené. (That is, in fact, Rule #4 in her Rules of Engagement for Rising Strong.) I couldn’t agree more. (Personally, I think storytelling, rather than prostitution, is likely the world’s oldest profession.)

When you think about it, practically everything we do is in some way related to the stories we tell ourselves. Whether the story is small–say, a reaction to someone who cut us off in traffic (are they a jerk? In a hurry to get to the hospital?)–or grand–such as our narratives of who we are, who we want to be, who we think we have to be–stories rule our lives.

“We feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories–it’s in our biology,” says Brené.

One of the most powerful practices I learned from Rising Strong is the idea of incorporating into our lives and communications the phrase, “the story I’m making up is….” That is, recognizing and acknowledging that the interpretations of events we’ve created in our heads–the stories from which our fears flow–are maybe, just maybe, not one hundred percent accurate.

I often think of myself as a jack of all trades, master of none. But the fact is, my brain is pretty much an admiral when it comes to making up stories. I’m a writer–of too-long emails and texts, of the occasional blog, of books of both fiction and non-fiction–so being able to make up stories comes in handy. For example, in the book I’m working on right now, I’m making up whole worlds, whole universes. Without the ability to make up stories, I’d be lost in my chosen career.

But when it comes to real life, the ability to weave a hundred different stories from one event can be exhausting. Inside my brain, things can get messy.

Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.
Mark Twain

While the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution are all critical to the rising strong process, Brené says it’s the rumble that is the messiest. It’s the space where “you’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.” It’s the place of the greatest struggle, and, says Brené, it’s a nonnegotiable part of the process.

“The rumble begins with turning up our curiosity level and becoming aware of the story we’re telling ourselves about our hurt, anger, frustration, or pain.”

Brené calls the initial story we tell ourselves the “sh*tty first draft” or “SFD” (a phrase she borrows from writer Anne Lamott). Writing down the unedited, unfiltered, unpolished stories we are hearing in our heads about the situations that are causing us to feel fear, hurt, pain, anger, shame, etc., allows us to investigate the tough questions about what’s really happening, to evaluate what we’re thinking, and to ask whether our stories are true, or a way to disengage and self-protect.

Rising Strong is rich with anecdotes from Brené’s own life. This, to me, is part of the strength of the book. Over and over as I read Brené’s books, I recognize the truth in the title of her first book: I Thought It Was Just Me. Any shame we may feel in seeing ourselves in these stories is moderated by the knowledge that Brené is right there with us. Our fears and shames can feel suffocating when we believe we are alone in them. Brené’s work reminds us: we are not alone.

Brené Brown
Brené Brown

In Rising Strong, Brené also addresses the complex nature of failure. We “gold-plate” failure and grit, she says, skipping over or sugar-coating the process and the pain involved in falling and in deciding to rise again.

“Rather than gold-plating grit and trying to make failure look fashionable, we’d be better off learning how to recognize the beauty in truth and tenacity,” she says.

Brené notes, “In her book The Rise, Sarah Lewis writes, ‘The word failure is imperfect. Once we begin to transform it, it ceases to be that any longer. The term is always slipping off the edges of our vision, not simply because it’s hard to see without wincing, but because once we are ready to talk about it, we often call the event something else–a learning experience, a trial, a reinvention–no longer the static concept of failure.’ Failure can become nourishment if we are willing to get curious, show up vulnerable and human, and put rising strong into practice.”

Brené also talks about the challenging idea that everyone is simply doing they best they can in any given moment. It’s a difficult concept to embrace when we’re dealing with people whose actions so very thoroughly conflict with our own needs and values. But personally, I think if more of us could embrace that belief in our day-to-day dealings (especially on the internet), it could have a profound impact on our interactions and our world.

And, following what she has said is one of the most profound findings of her research, Brené discusses boundaries and the idea that the most boundaried people she’s ever met are also the most compassionate. That one takes a while to digest, but it makes tremendous sense. “Compassionate people ask for what they need,” she says. “They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it.”

There’s far too much good stuff in Rising Strong for me to cover it all. Of course by now it’s obvious that I recommend it, and all Brené’s other work. We are story-full beings, and miscommunications can contribute to our greatest woes. Learning how better to communicate with each other, and how better to understand and manage the (not completely accurate) stories we tell ourselves can, in my opinion, only lead to greater connection. And, as I learned in another book released this summer, Michelle Gielan’s Broadcasting Happiness, social connection is the greatest predictor of happiness. The work is hard, but the journey is worthwhile.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Of the ten Rules of Engagement for Rising Strong, I think one of the most powerful is Rule #9: Courage is contagious. Brené’s books are a tangible manifestation of this rule. Putting books out into the world, to be critiqued and criticized by potentially billions of people, is a vulnerable and courageous act. By sharing her own stories, sharing her own vulnerability with us, Brené empowers us each to be a little more courageous in our own lives. When reading Brené’s books, I always feel a little stronger, a little braver, a little more courageous. Not invincible; reading her books doesn’t make me suddenly feel like I will never fall. But definitely more resilient, like if I fall, I can pull myself back up again.

Says Brené, “In my work, I’ve found that moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process…. hope is learned.”

Rising Strong, like all Brené’s books, gives me hope.

We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.

Brené Brown

Find Brené at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Learn more about the COURAGEworks online learning community.

Rising Strong Trailer from Brené Brown on Vimeo.

Also published at my Huffington Post blog.


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Mini-review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Writing reviews isn’t my strong point (almost as bad as writing blurbs for the back of the book!), but I thought I’d give it a go here for my fellow readers!

I recently raced through Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It was definitely a book I stayed up late reading! Picoult’s storytelling skills were masterful here, weaving tales and plot points together seamlessly to culminate in the surprise twist at the end, which I definitely didn’t see coming.

There’s Jenna, a thirteen-year-old girl who wants to find her mother, who disappeared when she was three.

There’s Alice, the mother who disappeared after a murder at the elephant sanctuary at which she worked, whose life’s work was studying grief in elephants.

There’s Serenity, the lapsed psychic who once reached fame solving celebrity cases, but fell from grace and now fakes living-room readings for a living.

And there’s Virgil, the detective who was supposed to help solve the mystery of the murder at the elephant sanctuary, and who has never forgiven himself for leaving the case unsolved.

The story of their quest to find Alice is interspersed with fascinating details of the complex emotional lives of elephants, joining together to create a well-researched, well-executed tale.

After finishing, I checked other reviews on Amazon. I was surprised to see so many negative reviews—just goes to show you, you can’t please everyone. Many who didn’t like it thought there was too much emphasis on elephants. Personally I found those bits really interesting, and there was clearly a subtext of the contrasts and parallels between elephants’ behavior and the happenings in the plot. I found it to be a really interesting way to learn about elephants, but I suppose it wouldn’t appeal to anyone.

As a fellow writer, I was highly impressed by how beautifully Picoult structured her tale. As a reader, I couldn’t put the book down. I don’t do 1 to 5 star ratings if I can help it, but I definitely recommend this one!

For anyone looking for more Picoult, Second Glance is another long-time favorite.

leaving time


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