How to Write a Novel – Melanie Sumner

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

How to Write a Novel – Melanie SumnerHow to Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on August 4, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Family Life, Coming of Age, Humorous
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon

Aristotle "Aris" Thibodeau is 12.5 years old and destined for greatness. Ever since her father’s death, however, she’s been stuck in the small town of Kanuga, Georgia, where she has to manage her mother Diane’s floundering love life and dubious commitment to her job as an English professor. Not to mention co-parenting a little brother who hogs all the therapy money.  
Luckily, Aris has a plan. Following the advice laid out in Write a Novel in Thirty Days! she sets out to pen a bestseller using her charmingly dysfunctional family as material. If the Mom-character, Diane, would ditch online dating and accept that the perfect man is clearly the handyman/nanny-character, Penn MacGuffin, Aris would have the essential romance for her plot (and a father in her real life). But when a random accident uncovers a dark part of Thibodeau family history, Aris is forced to confront the fact that sometimes in life—as in great literature—things might not work out exactly as planned.

♦ As I read a book, I copy and paste phrases, sentences, and paragraphs into emails and send them to myself for reference while writing a review. As the mother of two (20 and 10) this book made me crazy. The main character is twelve and a half and that is stated numerous times. Instead of writing a review I’m going to let my emails review for me. My comments in blue, actual lines from the book black.

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 5:42 PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“Rule #27: Avoid flashbacks. They are usually a sign that the writer is avoiding conflict. Watch out, here comes a flashback! Aris Thibodeau leaned back into her seat, lifted her water bottle, and looked deeply into its clear color. She took a sip and thought about Billy and their secret, steamy clandestine meeting in the sacristy at St. Michael’s on that stormy night last July. Billy wore the scarlet acolyte robe of the chalice bearer, which made his hazel eyes even more hazel. With both hands, he fumbled at the top button of her robe. His breath, smelling faintly of Eucharist wine, felt warm as he brushed his lips against hers. After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you.” “Here, let me help you,” Aris whispered to Billy, because he was getting nowhere fast with the button. At any moment, Father John might open the door and discover them. She had the thing off in ten seconds. “This is my Blood of the new Covenant—” Aris and Billy laughed nervously as the crimson robe pooled around her feet. When she unfastened the top two buttons of her blouse, he pulled her tight against him and pressed his mouth against hers. With tender skill, finesse born of longing, he moved his braces away from her lips as he flicked his tongue over hers. When his hand slid over her breast, she undid another button, allowing his fingers to slip inside her bra. His finger rested on her bare nipple, which her bare nipple stiffened at his touch. “Whenever you drink it—” Tentatively, he stroked her hip with his free hand. “Yes?” he asked breathlessly. She felt beautiful and powerful. “No,” she said, but she didn’t push him away. Again, they kissed. Again, his hand glided across her narrow hip. “Please?” he asked, in his sweet, gruff voice. She paused, considering. Christ has died. “Just for a minute,” he said. Aris touched his hair and looked deeply into his eyes, smiling. He smiled back. Were those footsteps coming down the hall? Christ is risen. They listened, but no one came into the vestibule. “I think I could love you,” she whispered. When he held her close, she felt his hard, hot body pulsing with desire. “You think?” he said. He held her even tighter, pressing his muscles into her soft curves as she sighed with pleasure. She felt just like Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, Lady of All Women, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt in 1345 B.C. 10 He ran his finger over the outline of her hip bone. “Pretty please?” She shook her head, just as Queen Nefertiti would have done, because that is the secret to power.” – THEY ARE 12!! WTF. JUST NO, NOT ENOUGH WORDS FOR NO!! Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:27 PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“I have a strong memory, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful because I never have to study. Everything that enters my brain stays there. The downside is that I can’t forget anything. Memories flutter around my brain with the damned persistence of moths on a lamp.” – She is 12. What 12 year-old speaks like this? Nice turn of phrase if the same narrator wasn’t just using text speak and emoji. Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:48 PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“I see you’re still writing your novel,” said Grandma. “What’s it about?” Well,” I said, and then I froze up. What was my novel about? I had no idea. “I’m illuminating reality as I transcend it,” I said.” – TWELVE “I see someone’s hormonal” – said by 12 year old boy to 12 year old girl, do twelve year old boys really know about that? Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:56 PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

Calls mom Diane or Merm. WTF is a Merm and why does Mom put up with this? Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:58PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“During science, I found three new pictures of his “cousin” Tiffany on his Facebook page. At home later that afternoon, I discovered that Tiffany had followed him on Twitter and Instagram. When my cellphone rang, I jumped, thinking, He’s calling me! That was ridiculous, of course; my friends and I haven’t “talked on the phone” since third grade.” – Don’t you have to be 13 to have social media accounts? And why do 12 year-olds have cell phones? Does the author have kids? (Edited to add that yes she has two children according to her acknowledgements) Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:58PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“Where the hell did that come from? We were grading papers together a few days ago. Was I or was I not the co-parent in this family, an equal partner in the management of the Montgomery-Thibodeau enterprise?” – Um, not a co-parent, a child so no, not equal. Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Laura Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 6:58PM To: Laura Subject: How 2

“Aris, are you okay?” “I’m fine. What’s the matter with me?” “You seem a bit fragile.” “It’s probably just my hormones having a party,” I said in my old reassuring voice, but it sounded false.” – TWELVE, arrrggghh I give up. Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Δ So what have you read lately that has made you cringe?  


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Posted August 9, 2015 by Laura in Reviews / 1 Comment

One response to “How to Write a Novel – Melanie Sumner