Slang in dialogue is a tricky tool. I try to avoid it for two reasons: 1-It changes so fast and publishing moves so slow; and 2-If you don't write it well, well... it's just painful.
But that's the first thing that struck me in Susane Colasanti's Take Me There. Colasanti is a master of using slang in her teenage characters' dialogue, and not just slang. References to movies like Memento and Serendipity...
And even though it's a little dated, it works because the characters are so engaging. TMT is focused on three high school kids, Rhiannon, Nicole, and James, who are friends living in New York City, and one significant week in their lives.
Without giving away too much, Rhiannon's character has a nice arc from making lists of how her life was better when she was with ex-boyfriend, to taking charge of her destiny, to sharing an earbud and dance with James... Awww...
And Nicole's love interest is a charmer. I think readers will like him. James also is an engaging male character, and it's fun being in his head. (The book is written from three different POVs, so you get each lead's internal monologue.)
Colasanti draws the reader right in their NYC neighborhood very well. It's been a while since I've visited New York, but it felt very much like a presence in the book.
I remember thinking the whole time I was reading "this is a gentle read," but I can't explain what I mean by that. Nicole's issues are not gentle in the least, and they're all dealing with stuff...
Maybe because the story opens with these guys on the edge of their conflicts, and then leads us smoothly through the resolutions in a satisfactory way that doesn't feel too tidy. I also liked the musicality of the writing.
The entire book has a nice rhythm to it. You can feel the beat of the conversations, down to Colasanti's use of "And like" to start paragraphs or "And so I go" to introduce dialogue. It feels very authentic.
There's some language in the book, but it's not jarring. There are no adult situations, although adult things have occurred before the story opens.
TMT is romantic and angsty, and justice is served. I give it a nice, solid B+. I felt an emotional connection to the characters, I wanted to see how their problems were solved, and I think readers will dig it.
And now for the moment of Truth...
Continued from Friday, the truth of my statements revealed~
1. FALSE. At my elementary school, they never even had a contest for collecting postcards from different cities. But a friend of mine's little boy had to do this, so I stole the idea...
2. TRUE! I graduated from a coffee cupping class in college. It was a six-week course put on by a gourmet coffee house in Baton Rouge, and being a coffeeholic, I LOVED it. (Fyi, "cupping" is what folks "in the biz" call coffee "tasting." It's very similar to wine tasting. You should watch them do it sometimes... fascinating.)
3. FALSE. My brother and best friend both had summer jobs working in snowball stands, and while I kept them company and made myself sick eating snowballs, I was never an employee.
4. FALSE. I only lost half my left front tooth after I fell off the handle bars of my brother's bike at the age of 12... Yep. I'm Jim Carrey.
5. FALSE. I don't really have a nickname, but JRM and I like to call people "Magee" preceded by either an obtrusive body part or personality tic. For example, my blogging buddy Rayna would be "Drabbles Magee." Pam Anderson would be... well.... Nevermind. It's silly, I know.
6. FALSE. I toyed with the idea of being a biology major until I barely earned a C in freshman biology at LSU. Then I realized I'd better stick to English. (I got my *master's* in journalism... and that's when the writing career began for real.)
7. FALSE. My first attempt at creative writing was a graphic novel titled Fury Woman. (I actually referenced this in my blog recently.)
So there you go! School's back in, so I'll be writing away til Thursday. See ya then, reader/writer friends...