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Middle Me This – Books With a Slow Burn…

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I will admit I am not the most patient of people. It may come from my temperamental-but-ever-so-charming Irish ancestry (apparently the McAndrews were the fieriest of the fiery sort in County Mayo), or perhaps the fact that as a mother of two young children working part time while pursuing my dream, life moves at a very, very rapid pace. That’s why I like books that start with a zing bang boom and keep me hooked until the bitter (or hopefully, happy) ending.

If a book doesn’t do that, especially a young adult or middle grade book, from which I’ve come to expect immediate seduction (Can I use that word on a kidlit blog? I’m gonna use that word on a kidlit blog…), I get a little surly when I’m greeted with a lot of “this is how it is around here” stuff. Fingers begin tapping on my Kindle, and the dust bunnies in the corner shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, you could be cleaning.”

But I am determined to give each book at least a 20% try (that means I stick with it no matter what up to 20% of the way through on my Kindle). And that’s how I discovered the three beauties below. Just when I was about to set the novel aside (which actually means closing my Kindle app and opening the Facebook one on my phone, dust bunnies be darned), these books got their teeth into me and dragged me right back in.

Meet the books with a healthy midsection…

The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)bringing the characters (that you already know) together. I am not big on extensive description. I have to coax it out of my own writing, remembering that my audience cannot see inside my mind (thank God!). I started this book with many recommendations and high hopes. And I did warm immediately to Kate Connolly and Sean Kendrick. The water horses are pretty intense too (kind of felt like Jurassic Park meets Black Beauty meets Wales). But after so much description of the sea, I either 1)needed to go to a rocky beach with breathtaking views, or 2) quit torturing myself with reading about one. However, it soon became clear that the sea is a character itself, and as Stiefvater began her intricate dance of weaving characters together, I finally latched on to a middle that carried me well to the end.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Hann)…establishing what the story is really about. This was another book I almost didn’t keep up with, only because the “family” stuff really dominated the beginning of it. I was looking for the “hook,” the part where Laura Jean’s unsent love letters get mailed to all her previous flames. In my anticipation of this event, the “family” stuff seemed to get in the way. But at about a quarter of the way in, when the much awaited event takes place, it all came together for me. Family is what this story is about, and without a strong sense of who Laura Jean is with her two sisters and widower father, the rest just wouldn’t be so compelling.

Eve (Anna Carey)…saving the “special”…This book was probably in the most danger of getting the Kindle shutdown, but once again I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s not that the beginning isn’t exciting (it’s heavily dystopian, with the teen girls being used to repopulate the earth, unbeknownst to them until graduation). What I really love is the big chunk in the middle, where Eve, who has no experience with boys, is in a community of almost all boys (very Wendy in Neverland), and the relationship development that Carey keeps up through to the end. An invigorating read, with two other books that follow.

So how about you, fellow writer or reader? Is there a book that surprised you with a slow start and impressive middle? I can tell you that these books above, once in danger of losing my interest, now sit on my shelf of favorites. And for a gal like me, who colors reddish hair blonde and taps a constant beat of impatience into the floor, some things are 100 percent worth the wait.

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