Becky Levine (beckylevine) wrote,
Becky Levine

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A Letter to Carrie Jones

I just finished reading Need. At 11:11 last night. I thought about just doing a formal review, but I know Carrie sometimes stops by, and-really--the review wasn't going to say it right. So...

Dear Carrie,

I was having a lousy weekend. Too many things needed doing, and I didn't want to do any of them. I tried, but it just wasn't happening. So I decided what I really needed was a retreat. And I picked up your book.

Here's what you did for me:

You spooked me. You tied my stomach in little knots and kept tightening them. You had me turning the pages as fast as I could to see what was happening next, to find out if Zara would be okay. Despite the fact that, as an experienced reader, I really did know that she would. Still. I had to see it happen. I watched her be tested in one of the darkest, scariest, most suspenseful scenes I've read in a YA novel, and I fretted and worried, as helpless as the friend who was with her, to do anything if she wasn't up to the test.

And in the middle of all this tension, all this beautiful, lovely creepiness, you made me smile. And laugh. And cheer. My favorite line of the book and definitely in my top-ten of all times: 

     I smile at her and mutter in my head, "Nice shoes made by child slaves in Asia, materialistic Barbie."

You made me love, or hate, every one of your characters, and you made me worry about all the good guys, not just your hero, and not just for the BIG danger, but for all their smaller, as-important, personal worries. Go, Issie!

And as a writer, you gave me the answer to some questions I've been wrestling with about my own WIP. You showed me that, in a tense, gripping, serious novel, the "fun, light" parts are brief moments of connection, insight, renewal, and power. You showed me that it can be done, and you made me believe I can do it. You made me believe I should do it.

You have found your sweet spot, Carrie. This book is flying on all cylinders, as though the thread of solid, creepy danger that you've woven through has brought all your wonderful humor and characterization and storytelling into the perfect place.

My grandmother always held up a standard: Write those thank-you notes. So, Carrie, thank you, for the book that kept me reading way too late last night, and turned my weekend around. Excuse me while I trot off to some bookstore sites to plant a slightly shorter, much less fluttery review online!


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