In my effort to make a dent in my To Be Read pile, I have dedicated myself in the beginning part of this year to reading the debuts in the stack first. Why? Because these are the manuscripts we toiled over for years. These are the books that turned us from writer to author. These books are the first kisses from writers and cause us to follow their book writing careers.
In Black Radishes, Meyer takes on a big historical moment—the Nazi invasion of Europe–and creates a very human story through the eyes of Gustave, a French born Jewish boy who leaves Paris with his parents and lives in unoccupied France while waiting for the all important papers to get to America. Written in third person, Meyer keeps us close to the turmoil in Gustave’s heart (leaving family, feeling persecution) while opening the camera a little wider for us to take in the landscape which Gustave sees but can’t fully grasp but we do. Very skillfully done.
Flutter is an adventure story of a different kind. Set on the landscape of rural Vermont, Moulton creates the Rittle family with ten year old Maple as the heroine who wants to save the newest Rittle sister, born prematurely. She and her twelve year old sister set out across the wilderness to procure water from the Wise Woman. Moulton knows her landscape. I was in the churning river with Maple. I was holding my breath when the poachers were nearby. I was running into town desperate to get help. Well done, Erin.
Both these stories will have boys and girls on the edge of their seats for many years.