Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I Am The Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes

I Am The Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes (Delacorte Press, 2005). Floey's nothing but "the wallpaper" compared to her sister Lilian who "always had to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral." But all that's over now, at least if Floey herself has anything to say about it. New Floey, future Floey is on the rise, no matter the resulting friendship fallouts, family turmoils, and revelations of her private life on the Internet. At turns tender and comedic, Floey is ultimately a heroine to cheer. Ages 10-up. Read an excerpt, and don't miss floeysprivatelife.com.

More Thoughts On I Am The Wallpaper

Floey is a great example of a character who grows into her likability. Too often it seems we're so worried about reader identification (and attention span) that we writers back away from really showing protagonist faults. The result is that the character growth arc is flattened. But here, the author sees and conveys his heroine clearly and compellingly.

I absolutely love that Calvin was from Oklahoma City (central time zone!) and, having dated an cowboy poet or two myself, found him utterly convincing.

Love also the Internet extension of the novel. An excellent example of how books and technology can be cooperative rather than competitive.

Overall the book was very well produced, though on the rare occasion that Floey's "handwriting" type is produced with an asterix and smaller font, I found it challenging to read. But then again, I'm very old (age 37).

Marketing pitches the novel with a Booklist quote calling it a clever amalgam of Bridget Jones' Diary and Harriet the Spy, which is fair, but I agree also with Floey herself that she at least begins in more of a Molly Ringwald a' la "Sixteen Candles'" (Samantha Baker) place in the world (bonus points for mentioning "the cute guy in the red car").

This debut novel was a finalist for the 2003 Delacorte Press Prize for First Young Adult Novel.

Like me, author Mark Peter Hughes has worked in a gas station (he was an attendant; I was a cashier) and in a movie theater (he was an usher; I was a popcorn popper).

Also the zen was way zen, says Zen Cyn.

Cynsational News & Links

Amazing Vermont College MFA folks I've heard from lately include author Louise Hawes. Her titles include: The Vanishing Point (Houghton Mifflin, 2004); Waiting For Christopher (Candlewick, 2002); and Rosey In The Present Tense (Walker, 1999). She offers some lovely inspirational words for new writers and some wonderful essays: "On Overwriting: The Pitfalls of 'Lyrical' Prose;" "Writing from the Core: Does It Have To Hurt?;" September 11: the Day the Writing Stopped;" and "Thou Shalt Not Tell...Or Shalt Thou?"

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