What I gleaned about the story: Faith knows all about sex. From watching her daddy and her sister. ::shudder:: She probably knows more, but I think I’m glad I won’t be finding out.
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Analysis: The first page has a number of brief references to things that happened in the deeper past, but does not employ past perfect to indicate them. In other places, past perfect is used. The result is that I’m getting confused by which comments happened at what point in time, and when I’m confused about what is now and what is then, I can’t properly visualize it, so the immersion pops.
Analysis: The narrative style is a bit quirky. The topic of the conversation seems to dart and twist, even within paragraphs. This may be a cool stylistic choice, mimicking the darting attention span of the 5th graders who are the focus of the scene. But in light of the cognitive demands this “flickering focus” effect makes on the reader, it becomes crucial, I think, for everything else to be clean. Yet every now and then I run into a statement that I simply cannot make fit.
Case in point: They’d not played in the creek and both were cleaner than the usual evening.
Cleaner than the usual evening what? Evening sky? Could it be suggesting that, somehow, evenings themselves are clean? But I can’t imagine what that would mean. Then I finally realized that it meant that the girls were cleaner than they usually were by evening time. Unfortunately, by that point, immersion had already been set aside to let the forensic team do its job.
Analysis: The entire first scene is presented between two 5th graders. They seem to jump from topic to topic in a believably chaotic manner, just like the 5th graders I’ve known, but they also seem to have a sophisticated understanding of adult sexual behavior, which they demonstrate frequently. This stands in sharp contrast to their other fascinations — cardboard forts and crawling bugs — which makes the sex talk feel strained and out of character. If the kids had been 7th or 8th graders, this might not have tripped me up.