Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review of Freefall by Mindi Scott

Mindi Scott’s debut novel made a great addition to my YA book collection. Freefall, the story of a young man coping with loss and learning acceptance, will captivate even the most reluctant reader. Having a teenager at home has taught me her voracious reading habits are a part of her nature as much as nurture. I can’t say the same for many of her friends who wrinkle their noses at the very idea of picking up a book, something that sets my teeth on edge. But main character Seth McCoy’s honest and fresh perspective is sure to lead to some reading converts. In an effort to alleviate his pain over his best friend’s death, Seth turns more readily to alcohol; though this is in no way a change in Seth’s behavior. The prevalence of drinking shouldn’t dissuade you from reading Freefall, or from buying it for the young adult reader in your life. Teen drinking is, and has always been, a reality. Turning a blind eye to it doesn’t make the problem go away. Mindi was just brave enough to put it on the page. In fact, it helped assuage my nagging fears over how the drinking in my own writing might be perceived (thanks, Mindi). Following along as Seth makes positive, self-directed choices in the face of peer pressure is inspiring. He learns to cope and accept things he has no control over, becomes a better communicator, and finally lets go of his guilt, bringing the novel’s title to light.
Being married to a musician, it was easy for me to relate to Seth and the many personalities he’s forced to deal with being in a band. I literally jumped out of bed to show my husband the following passage, which is just one example of how flawlessly the main character hits the nail on the head.
“What a loudmouth that Xander guy was turning out to be. I vaguely remembered him saying something at Pete’s party about being in a band, and I was getting a good idea that he must be the drummer. Drummers can never just shut the hell up.”
The supporting characters maintain a balance of strengths and weaknesses in the social pecking order. No, there aren’t S.E. Hinton’s Socs and Greasers. But there are the country club elite and the trailer park trash, and their worlds blend perfectly in Mindi’s writing. She shows teen insecurities have no socioeconomic boundaries. Rosetta and Seth’s relationship adds just enough sweetness to the mix, as they help each other move past the things holding them back in their lives.  It is a story of growth, self-acceptance, and trust. I would recommend Freefall to any reader looking for a fresh story about real issues affecting teens today.
MY TAKEAWAY AS A WRITER: Reading Mindi Scott’s book solidified the idea of a huge audience available for books that are outside the paranormal or fantasy. The break within the genre was a welcomed change, and teen issues can and should be addressed openly. Not everyone is pretty, cruel, talented, giving, harsh, or self-possessed. The very best characters are a combination of a few personality traits? I mean, who roots for perfection? The underdog is the hero. And in this book, have no fear; the underdog is here!

Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR:

Why I YA: Why do you write Young Adult books?

Mindi:
I was a big-time reader as a tween and teen, so I hoped to one day write stories that would appeal to readers in those age ranges. As an adult, I spent one summer reading over one hundred books of all different types to decide what to focus upon for my writing. Contemporary YA was the best fit for me.

Why I YA: What was the most difficult thing about writing this story for you?

Mindi:
Having patience! I'm not a fast writer, so I was often frustrated by my slow progress. Other writer friends were finishing drafts in a few months. FREEFALL took six months for my first draft and a year to revise.

Why I YA: As a debut author, you must have learned a lot throughout the process of writing Freefall. What, if anything, would you change about your writing process if you had to start from scratch?

Mindi:
For all that I've learned, I really don't know what I would -- or could -- do differently. I wish I were quicker. I wish I were less of a perfectionist (or that I could get it perfect on the first try). I wish that my ideas came to me fully formed and awesome every time. Instead, I have this process. MY process. I'm always learning how to make it work.
Why I YA: Who was your favorite character to write?

Mindi:
Seth, my narrator, was my favorite character overall. But that's a boring and obvious answer, right? :-) My second-favorite character to write was Kendall. I felt that the backstory and the chemistry she had with Seth were interesting and (mostly) effortless to write. If only all characters were so easy!



3 comments:

  1. Excellent review!Always nice to find out what's out there. Found you on good reads.

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  2. Great review, Demetra! Freefall is going on my TBR list.

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