Monday, June 1, 2015


Our first submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Valerie Hobbs. WILD GINGER is a contemporary MG novel.


There were times living with her parents when Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lessing has had to be the grownup, or at least feels as if she does. Like right now on the Big Island of Hawaii as their tiny rental car passes a sign on the side of the road. “Hey, you guys,” she says. “We’re driving into a volcano. Did you see that sign?”

Her mother laughs. “Not into it, honey. Not exactly. Nothing to worry about.”

Lizzie thought about the day her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Sylvester, did his amazing volcano imitation. “Kaboom” he cried, leaping into the air, sending them all into shrieks and fits of laughter. “Is it active?”

Lizzie’s father, too big for their rented car, hulks over the steering wheel. “Kilauea is an active volcano all right,” he says. “If we’re lucky we’ll get to see some lava.”

Her parents are crazy. Always chasing after some new “folly,” Lizzie’s grandmother says. But nothing seems to work. Lessing Cake and Coffee had attracted only flies. Lessing Laundry went belly up when a fancier one opened on the next block. There were penny stocks and bubble gum machines, a dog washing service and Mack Of All Trades home repairs. Her father finally took a job as a manager at Burger King but lost it in a week.

And now there is this new thing her mother had spotted on a real estate flyer. “Old plantation house surrounded by  lush vegetation, perfect for a bed and breakfast”. The flyer had no picture.


I love the set up of this - the failed businesses, her crazy parents. That information, along with the flyer with no picture, brings to mind an image of a ramshackle house better than any description ever could.

I do have a couple of suggestions though. While the page as a whole is delightful, I'm wondering if you could pack more punch into the opening line. Right now, it's passive and a little bit clunky. Instead of saying she feels like the grownup, I'd love to see how it makes her feel.

I also feel like the flashback to her sixth grade class isn't necessary here. I'd like to stay in the car and get to know Lizzie and her parents a bit more. The image of her father and how he doesn't fit in the car is perfect.

In all, this book definitely sounds like something I would pick up off the shelf and read. Thanks for sharing, Valerie!

Make sure to check out Valerie's website at And head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of WILD GINGER.


Post a Comment