First Page Feedback – Leaving Louisiana

Alison sent this in without a genre chosen–it’s a moody, intriguing opening for sure. Either YA or New Adult perhaps…. Or maybe this is more of a prologue? Interesting in any case!

It saddens me to think this is the last time I will ever sit on these swings. I will never have Jared push me so high I feel like I could kick the moon again. I’ll never walk on the wooden barrier of the playground and pretend I’m a tightrope walker in a circus. No more hours will be spent building castles in the sand and digging up artifacts we had long ago forgotten. Jared interrupts my nostalgic moment.

“I know you have you reasons for wanting to leave but I love you so much. I don’t know what I”m going to do without you.” His hands were shaking as he held mine. He does this when he’s nervous and I feel horrible because I know I’m the reason why. He doesn’t support the idea of me going off to university alone. He’s waiting for me to respond and I don’t know how to comfort him.

“I love you, too.” I squeeze his hands. As if my words are confirmation, he gets down on one knee never taking his eyes from mine. I freeze.

“I’ve known you for as long as I can remember. I’ve kissed you every day since nineth grade and I’ve loved you since the day we played in the sandbox while your parents settled into the house next door to mine. Don’t let me find out what life is like without you, Jamie. Stay here and marry me. You need family and home to help you get through this; not escape. I can provide that for you and I will provide that for you for the rest of our lives together if you just say yes.”

The word is caught in my throat. This moment is the moment I’ve dreamed about since the day I met Jared when I was seven years old. I always pictured us living in my house across from the park with that beautiful sandbox. This is everything I ever wanted, “No, Jared. I can’t,” until last month when everything changed. “I’m sorry. We’re barely eighteen. You wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t leaving tomorrow.”

He finally breaks his gaze, clears his throat, composes himself and looks up. He can’t look me in the eyes. “I would have done it eventually. I had no intention of ever being with anyone else. We don’t have to get married right away just say that you will.” He feels his pockets and pulls out the box. The man I love is kneeling in front of me with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen and promising me forever and I can’t even pretend that I want it.

First Page Feedback from Mary-Theresa Hussey

It’s an evocative, intriguing first paragraph. Great images of being on the brink of childhood and grown-up and these choices let us see who the heroine is changing from.

The first person element is appealing as well for this NA/YA genre, so that fits in well. I’m not quite as sure about the dialogue from Jared. It feels a bit more mature for a teenage boy, but we don’t yet know who Jared really is, so maybe it makes sense for his character (fyi–ninth grade).

Though his dialogue does show that there’s something more going on with Jamie’s life–his helping her”get through this; not escape” is definitely alerting the reader that some big change has just happened.

A minor point, but digging in the sand is mentioned three times—though the rule of threes can be extremely effective, I’m don’t know that the playing in the sand is going to be the metaphor that resonates throughout the story. But maybe it is? 🙂

Overall I think this is an effective, moody opening in the narration, but the dialogue could use a bit more of a punch. 

And a great opening with a once-wanted proposal that is probably going to be denied–way to subvert expectations and let us know the heroine isn’t going to take the easy way out…

Thanks for sharing this project, Alison!