Is it crazy that I’m as excited about my HarperCollins review as I was for my birthday? Excited and terrified, as I was fairly sure the editor would rip it to shreds then tell me to stop writing forever and spare the world the horror of my written word.
But there were only helpful and encouraging words said, and I had some “well, duh, Gabs!” moments. Turns out this was just the boost I needed to kick myself back into gear! New ideas are swirling in this melting pot brain of mine. I have set a deadline for the completed rewrite (February 26), and we shall see what happens! You lucky people, you get to read the review before it gets made public on Inkpop!
Thank you so much for sharing SUMMER RUSH! I truly enjoyed the read. Your writing mechanics are excellent and I was impressed with how polished this draft was. You have a wonderful feel for dialogue—I love the sharp banter between Lexus and Rush! I also liked the way you subtly hinted at their true feelings. The small flashes of their old kindnesses were nice, from the stuffed giraffe that baby Rush gave to baby Lexus to the way they once traded lollipops. It was effective without being heavy-handed.
However, I paused at the level of violence that Lexus and Rush have inflicted on each other over the years. Their fights seemed deliberately cruel (i.e. Rush stomping on Lucky’s “grave”). It would have felt more realistic to me if their fighting was something that accidentally escalated…like play-fighting that suddenly becomes real because someone throws a punch that’s just a little too hard. You do get at this with the lamp-throwing incident, but be careful not to make their history too brutal because that can render them unlikeable. Perhaps you can add a little more playfulness alongside the fighting?
I love that you have a flair for the dramatic, but be careful not to take it too far. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the spectacular car crash at the beginning or that Rush would be able to save Lexus in such action-hero fashion (although it would be a terrific scene in a movie!). The crash opened up many questions for me but it struck me as a significant event with a lot of potential; as such, I wonder if you would consider reworking it a bit. I was mostly curious about the long-term psychological ramifications of a crash like that, especially when Lexus’s mother and Rush’s father were killed in a car accident. It seems that the fright of almost dying in the same way as their parents would hit extremely close to home and would prompt deeper reflections than what we’re currently getting in the text. Lexus and Rush are upset about their licenses being taken away…but what if they were afraid to get behind the wheel again? It would take some rewriting, but I can really envision the accident as the beginning of the turning point in Lexus and Rush’s relationship. The crash would essentially be a metaphor; the animosity between the two of them comes to a dramatic head, after which they begin to heal. If you were to revise along these lines, I’d suggest moving the accident to around the middle of the book so you can use the first third of the novel to layer Lexus and Rush’s complex rapport.
I actually don’t think you need the Geisha House of Dance; you can work Brett into the story without his mother’s dance studio. Consider this: If that car accident happened in real life and Rush had taped-up ribs and a concussion, would he bounce right back and hit the dance floor? Make sure you pay attention to the small details because oftentimes they were the things that kept nagging at me. For example, when Rush and Lexus are having a dive-off at the pool, where’s the lifeguard? Wouldn’t he or she intervene? Would that scene truly escalate the way it does?
I think you handle subtlety well and that’s a difficult thing. You did a beautiful job of conveying depth in the scene where Lexus looks at Maya and Rush and feels a sudden pang for her own mother. It’s a feeling that catches her off-guard and it makes us feel like there’s a lot more to Lexus beneath the surface—things that she hasn’t necessarily owned up to herself. That makes her a more believable character and I wanted more moments like that one. While verbal barbs between Rush and Lex can be fun, don’t get too caught up in them. Good luck with revising this and with your future projects! You’re a talented writer and I wish you all the best. Thanks again for sharing this with us.