Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 13495
date submitted 18.05.2010
date updated 07.10.2012
genres: Non-fiction, Biography, Harper True...
classification: moderate
incomplete

Breath In The Dark

Jane Hersey

"One day your big mouth will get you into trouble," my father told me. For 25 years I kept quiet.

 

A six-year old child with sole care of a mother suffering with clinical depression, diabetes and eating disorders; ostracized by the Jewish community and the community at large; socially isolated, neglected, physically, emotionally and sexually abused and living in poverty.

This is the first of three manuscripts written soon after I came out of a psychotherapeutic community in 1984.


My story is told through the thoughts and voice of a traumatized, isolated child, enduring the stresses and strains of day to day life under difficult circumstances.

My genre is factual meaning, my writing is not contrived or used for best effect. I tell it how it was in my own words and writing style.








 
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tags

60s, abuse, deprivation, isolation, jewish, manchester., neglect, poverty, trauma, yiddish

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HarperCollins Wrote

From the first lines of Breath in the Dark, there is a powerful sense that this is special. The simplicity of Jane’s style, the clarity of the child’s voice and the intensity of emotion fired in those few words had me hooked from the start.

From the first moment, we know that there is much that is outside our comprehension; that we are inside a child’s mind. Jane expresses the beautiful mix of confusion, faith and fear that characterises her childhood effortlessly. The dark, misty night that hangs over the opening scene hangs over the whole story, like the glow that is just as likely to be the danger of fire as the safety of a streetlamp. The opening image is apt – if not inspired – as Jane’s story constantly oscillates between these peaks of hope and despair, yearning to be mothered by, but always playing mother to, a woman teetering on the brink of death.

Breath in the Dark would make a fantastic publishing project, and there would be no one better placed to bring it to the world than the Harper True team. Not only does it contain all the elements of a highly moving memoir, Jane’s rendering of these is so original as to give the impression of never having read them before. There are few things as fascinating as the comfort and consolation Hikey derives from things that seem so repulsive to the outside world.

The relationships between Hikey and her mother, her father, the outside world are all utterly (even morbidly) compelling. We are shown that she is not only the victim of her mother’s condition, but the creator (or at least prolonger) of it: a terrible compromise creating a constant battle between life and death. The suspense that this battle creates and the darkening relationships between Hikey and those around her is the heart of this story: it is a portrait in trauma.

Slowly we realise the effects this existence has – and will continue to have – on Hikey: not only through the occasional comparisons we can draw with her peers, as she comes into contact with the outside world, but also through the changing thoughts and feelings she relates. We don’t notice the passage of time in the story, because Hikey herself has no concept of it, but the observer sees patterns developing and scars forming. ‘Monsters’ turn into real people on the bus; food that once was dumped on the floor must now be painstakingly arranged; numbers must be counted repeatedly; walls must be touched and clothing fixed in one place in order to avoid her mother’s death. With a little knowledge of the problems that a difficult childhood creates, we can foresee the profound effect this will have on Hikey’s later years.

There is so much more I could say about Breath in the Dark, its excellent narrative, incredible intensity and the unfakeable ring of truth it carries – but this could fill pages. There is one outstanding recommendation I would make, however, which is that an ending is written: as it stands, Hikey’s story is noticeably incomplete. It would be made more powerful for being put in context, perhaps by the events following her mother’s death, or by Jane’s adult life.

In terms of publication, as ever, there can be no guarantees, as so much depends on infinitely mutable factors beyond our control. But Breath in the Dark should stand as a testament to one woman’s incredible will and faith, at the very least: evidence that terrible things can be survived and tales can be told to make others aware. Every part of it is an extremely powerful reading experience: it is heartbreaking and fascinating in equal amounts. It is a story that deserves to be told, and will be taken under consideration for publication as a matter of precedence.

hikey wrote 1187 days ago

My only expectation in life as a child was to hear my mother breathing. Hence, the title 'Breath in the Dark.' This story is written through the eyes of a child whose only 'sense of self' is gained from her body smell, as well as the smell and behaviour of her mother. What is paramount in this story is the mindset and entrenched behaviours which develop over time in the child. A child who is neglected, socially isolated, abused and traumatised is not going to know her age, the weight of her mother, age of siblings, etc, as suggested below. Also, a child living in such conditions is not going to develop emotionally. I think it is sad when a minority of readers over analyse the writing in terms of how they think it should be written and punctuated etc. This, in my opinion reflects much of what is wrong in the Social Care System. For example, when people who have had all their needs met as children, have been well supported and given the opportunity for education are dealing with people often born into poverty and disadvantage. The emphasis for some Social Workers is on the report writing, crossing the t's and dotting the i's so that the lack of humanity of those who need support and compassion becomes secondary to the administration needs of the Social Workers. False perceptions based on class prejudice are also a problem, for example, when it is wrongly assumed that people living in deprived conditions do so because they don't have the intelligence to know any better.
Currently, there are approximately 80,000 child carers in the UK currently known to the authorities. No figures exist for the amount of child carers who do not make themselves known for fear of being parted from their families. These children are usually caring for a lone parent suffering, mental, drug and alcohol problems, living in poverty. They lack educational opportunites, are unsupported emotionally, stressed and in adulthood most likely to be unemployable without the ability to form and maintain constructive relationships.
I do not use psychiatric lables to explain my behaviour because those behaviours were perfectly normal reactions to abnormal situations. No child has any influence over the circumstances they are born into. In addition, it is well documented that people who are depressed living in poverty do not seek out medical or other services.
Even when the reader has been taught to over analyse as part of their profession some intelligence and imagination is needed to enter a world beyond their experience.


I read through your book, I did like how it begins with a six year old child. The style, from my perspective, was consistent with a six year old. It felt choppy with holes in the logic and knowledge of the child. This served to draw me into the story. In the first few chapters the foot stamping and touching of the wall with the other small anxiety symptoms were well placed. It felt like I was going into your mindset from your youth. The yiddish was fine and you do not need a dictionary of terms (I think) since most of them are easily discerned.
Later in the writing, though, it became frustrating that the style remained choppy and disjointed. There were paragraphs where two people would speak. Speakers were not always identified. The scenes were not laid out. You mention being 6 at the beginning. How old are Jeffrey and David? How old is your mother. How much does she weigh? What were the medical diagnoses? Do you have anxiety at this time? Some of the behaviors you write about would indicate obsessive compulsive disorder. What did the flat look like? Go into detail about the filth that so upsets all visitors to the place. I also am unfamiliar with the British school system. I thought by the end of the story you were 16 or so. Yet the style remained the uniformed six year old view of the world. For example, at the end, you are still stamping your foot to keep your heart going. Has no one to this point in your life mentioned it as unnecessary? How do you pronounce Hikey? Is it like Hike-E, or is it like Hickey?
I realize that your book is recapturing your youthful thoughts. I think this is one of its strengths. However, the illusion of the child's mind is pierced several times by you saying "I remember . . . ." It would be better to change those sentences so that the mind is not revealed or to slowly change your style as you age to add details to the settings and to the friendships. You mention two girls who befriended you, but no mention was made previously that anyone spoke to you in ways apart from the derogatory. I could not tell how old you were when your mother died. Nor could I determine Jeffrey's age as he quits school to begin work. And while I have not looked at your other manuscript, an explanation of what you realize about this childhood now as an adult would be a nice way to end the story.
I did like the book. I could see it as a story used in sociology departments as a window to the mind of children in poverty and dysfunctional homes. Good luck with this, I will keep watching it, and I hope these comments help. I would appreciate you looking at my book and any comments you would care to make.

James Apologist wrote 1180 days ago

I hope my 6-star rating helps. I am not used to using that system and didn't think of it until today. I noted the critique that you answered a week ago. I usually talk about grammar and punctuation, but it doesn't seem to matter here. You are right on, in my view, re the psych part. You should carry no psych diagnosis; to have come out what psychiatrists would usually call "normal" from the experiences you had would itself have been abnormal. If for some reason you HAD to be given a diagnosis, I'd say its "post-traumatic stress syndrome," or, if you don't have that, it's surprising. No, I don't think you would be expected to know demographics and, as for the weight of your mother, I suppose she wasn't weighed for years. I REALLY like the last sentence of your response. James Apologist

made wrote 557 days ago

I'm
Not joking I really hope an editor or agent or publisher finds this this is awesome

deathcabkid wrote 1025 days ago

Jane, I just finished the first chapter, and I am truly glad that I backed this book. The fact that your story had the power to nearly make me cry all within the very first chapter is quite indicative of how profound and moving your memoir most likely is. I adore the simplicity of the language and the style, and I certainly disagree with those who have critiqued it. Your writing is a breath of fresh air, and I could feel your hopes becoming my hopes as I read. I, too, was worried and dismayed when the doctor continually denies you the purple tablets. You seem to effortlessly convey the pain and the anguish you experienced taking care of your mother, and being so lost and fragile, and I felt all of that love you have for your mother pouring through the story. This is beautiful work, and I certainly hope to see it published someday. A transcendent and impelling memoir. BACKED and rated SIX STARS with pleasure. Best of luck to you.

Ryan Holden
HOMOCIDAL

Jannypeacock wrote 1120 days ago

It's been a very long time since I have read anything that has left me so emotionally charged at the end. My heart ached with every word.
I love the simplicity of the language, it really felt like I was standing beside this six year old child watching as she struggled.
The scenes are so well set without the need for a big floral explanation of the location of the carpet and texture of the table as you often get in long winded memoirs. You have the nack of drawing the reader deep into the scene with just a few well placed words.
It is wonderful to read something with so much content, nothing more, nothing less, just every word there for the simple purpose of telling the story as it happened.
The powerful emotion of this story will live with me for a long time.
You truly are an inspiration. To have lived through something so difficult and had the strength to write about it is nothing short of harrowing.
Well done.

Wes63 wrote 1145 days ago

Go Jane!

Lori E. Mazzola wrote 1147 days ago

This is hard to read, very sad...
I prefer happy stories! It is well written though!
All good Authors use imagery.

cindergirl6 wrote 1147 days ago

So happy for you Jane.

cindergirl6 wrote 1147 days ago

So happy for you Jane.

Tracy McCarthy wrote 1148 days ago

I read your story. My heart aches for you and what you endured. You are very brave and very strong.

Breathe in the Dark will live in my thoughts and I will always hope you are well and happy, having overcome such agonizing obstacles.

Thank you for sharing your story.
Tracy

jllove wrote 1149 days ago

Awsome Review :) Yay you

Eponymous Rox wrote 1149 days ago


Congratulations on this most encouraging review---adding 'Breath In the Dark' and your author bio to my website within the week. Best of luck, Jane, and nice work.

CHEERS--
E.R.

Spunky wrote 1150 days ago

How Wonderful for you! What an amazing review...I wish you the best of luck. I will be reading your book as soon as I can get to it..I am very curious because I have written my life story, so mine is a true story too.
I hope you do get published, because I believe true stories can help so many people. I will comment as soon as I have read enough to do so.
Congrats!
Dayna

writerwithacause wrote 1150 days ago

Congrats. Lisa

writerwithacause wrote 1150 days ago

Congrats on making it to the editors desk. Lisa

Primrose Hill wrote 1150 days ago

I just stopped by, drawn by the review, and read your first chapter. It gave me so much pleasure, which may seem a strange thing to say of piece of writing which expresses so hauntingly a little child's terror. Hiki's love for her mother is totally unconditional, and I could feel the weight of the little child's extraordinary anxieties.
Please don't take any notice of comments about style. This is authentic. Perfection would be completely out of place here.
In 1959 I was an adolescent living with my family in the same part of Cheetham, Manchester. Waterloo Road to be exact, surrounded by Kosher butchers, bakers, and delicatessens, and farther down the handbag and raincoat manufacturers. My school friends were all Jewish, though we were not, and though we came home on the school bus together, our lives were lived out quite separately really. You gave me a glimpse into what was going on around me and took me back to an area which though deprived, was quite special. Thank you.

Judge Jeffreys wrote 1151 days ago

As I am new to commenting on this site, I wanted to read the books that had made it to the desk. I'm sorry, I read to Chapter 6 and found it was all content and no style. I think what got it to the desk was sympathy for the content. The sentences are clipped and there is no flow to the style. This of course is only my opinion as a reader. It read like a first draft to me.

SusieGulick wrote 1152 days ago

How totally wonderful you are, Jane!! :) Thank you so very much for backing my memoirs/testimony book. :) May God richly bless you. :) Love, Susie :) p.s. I have also gold ******-rated your book :) - could you please ****** mine, too. Every ****** -ing & backing more than 24 hours moves our books up authonomy's lists. :) I want to ask you if you could please keep my book on your bookshelf because, I'm #1 on the editor's desk & I don't want to lose traction & to remain in the top 5 to be chosen February 28. :) Please read my profile page: I had a mini-stroke Nov. 10 with slurred speech for an hour & numbness of tongue still & over 24 smaller ones where I couldn't speak since & I"d sure like to cross the finish line of the editor's desk after almost 1 year of trying on authonomy. :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me :) - I have lost 3 sisters to strokes & my last sister, Mary had 2 heart attacks this past year.

Winks wrote 1175 days ago

Definitely a story worth telling, and I was intrigued and engaged from the beginning.

berseba wrote 1178 days ago

Jane, first let me apologise for not getting to your book sooner, I have not been on the site for some time.
This is on of those stories where I wish I could print of the pages and keep it on my bookshelf where I can give it the attention it deserves. I know from first hand knowledge how a traumatic experience in childhood can affect you as an adult, I just wish I could put my own experiences and thoughts into words as you have done.
While I want to cry for your pain and suffering I also want to congratulate and applaude you for coming through that awful time as well as you have. You tell the story in a disturbing and heart wrending way wthout being self pitying. Your narrative is clear and to the point and your thoughts and feelings and love for your mother come through so well. You deserve the best of luck with this story. Backed. Berseba.

Elsie R Aven wrote 1178 days ago

Congratulations, Jane. I'm so pleased that you're going to get a pro crit. Good luck.

kategrimes@live.co.uk wrote 1179 days ago

Hi Jane, good to see you are on the editors desk. I have backed your book again and given it six stars. Good luck with it, dear.

Kate Grimes -Lizzie - Cuppa Tales

James Apologist wrote 1180 days ago

I hope my 6-star rating helps. I am not used to using that system and didn't think of it until today. I noted the critique that you answered a week ago. I usually talk about grammar and punctuation, but it doesn't seem to matter here. You are right on, in my view, re the psych part. You should carry no psych diagnosis; to have come out what psychiatrists would usually call "normal" from the experiences you had would itself have been abnormal. If for some reason you HAD to be given a diagnosis, I'd say its "post-traumatic stress syndrome," or, if you don't have that, it's surprising. No, I don't think you would be expected to know demographics and, as for the weight of your mother, I suppose she wasn't weighed for years. I REALLY like the last sentence of your response. James Apologist

Nigel Fields wrote 1181 days ago

Go, Jane. Go!

Nigel Fields wrote 1181 days ago

Hi Jane,
I wanted to offer a comment on this powerful book of yours. Your excellent pitch both draws attention and compliments this human drama. Loved the color of the Yiddish, easy to follow. Great voice. Wishing you the best here.
Sincerely,
John B Campbell

Noah McRae wrote 1185 days ago

Your pain was heartbreaking.

This is an immensely powerful biography and you have my utter support. Very descriptive daily routines with a hanging sense of the unknown because no one knows what was wrong with your mum.

This pulls on the heart strings and make me want something soo much better for anyone in this situation--this is a moving story that demands change.

Outstounding courage to put this up here, and beautiful work at being #3,
Thank you for showing me this story, it's an eye opener.

Kindest and best regards towards the sucsess of this brilliant and emotionally overbearing novel,
Hannah
Approaching Dusk

Venenum wrote 1185 days ago

Read the first five chapters so far and I am grabbed in. Your descriptions is strong and engaging, and the emotion you draw to the reader is universal and felt through the narrative. I love the honesty, and how the experience is very connecting and traumatic. This is very well done. Thank you for introducing me to read this book. The best of luck to you and the success of this book.
-JC
A Proclamation of Death

scatteredfrost wrote 1186 days ago

This is a gripping, heart rending story. Amazing details and excellent voice.

Pamela Frost
Houses of Cards

hikey wrote 1187 days ago

My only expectation in life as a child was to hear my mother breathing. Hence, the title 'Breath in the Dark.' This story is written through the eyes of a child whose only 'sense of self' is gained from her body smell, as well as the smell and behaviour of her mother. What is paramount in this story is the mindset and entrenched behaviours which develop over time in the child. A child who is neglected, socially isolated, abused and traumatised is not going to know her age, the weight of her mother, age of siblings, etc, as suggested below. Also, a child living in such conditions is not going to develop emotionally. I think it is sad when a minority of readers over analyse the writing in terms of how they think it should be written and punctuated etc. This, in my opinion reflects much of what is wrong in the Social Care System. For example, when people who have had all their needs met as children, have been well supported and given the opportunity for education are dealing with people often born into poverty and disadvantage. The emphasis for some Social Workers is on the report writing, crossing the t's and dotting the i's so that the lack of humanity of those who need support and compassion becomes secondary to the administration needs of the Social Workers. False perceptions based on class prejudice are also a problem, for example, when it is wrongly assumed that people living in deprived conditions do so because they don't have the intelligence to know any better.
Currently, there are approximately 80,000 child carers in the UK currently known to the authorities. No figures exist for the amount of child carers who do not make themselves known for fear of being parted from their families. These children are usually caring for a lone parent suffering, mental, drug and alcohol problems, living in poverty. They lack educational opportunites, are unsupported emotionally, stressed and in adulthood most likely to be unemployable without the ability to form and maintain constructive relationships.
I do not use psychiatric lables to explain my behaviour because those behaviours were perfectly normal reactions to abnormal situations. No child has any influence over the circumstances they are born into. In addition, it is well documented that people who are depressed living in poverty do not seek out medical or other services.
Even when the reader has been taught to over analyse as part of their profession some intelligence and imagination is needed to enter a world beyond their experience.


I read through your book, I did like how it begins with a six year old child. The style, from my perspective, was consistent with a six year old. It felt choppy with holes in the logic and knowledge of the child. This served to draw me into the story. In the first few chapters the foot stamping and touching of the wall with the other small anxiety symptoms were well placed. It felt like I was going into your mindset from your youth. The yiddish was fine and you do not need a dictionary of terms (I think) since most of them are easily discerned.
Later in the writing, though, it became frustrating that the style remained choppy and disjointed. There were paragraphs where two people would speak. Speakers were not always identified. The scenes were not laid out. You mention being 6 at the beginning. How old are Jeffrey and David? How old is your mother. How much does she weigh? What were the medical diagnoses? Do you have anxiety at this time? Some of the behaviors you write about would indicate obsessive compulsive disorder. What did the flat look like? Go into detail about the filth that so upsets all visitors to the place. I also am unfamiliar with the British school system. I thought by the end of the story you were 16 or so. Yet the style remained the uniformed six year old view of the world. For example, at the end, you are still stamping your foot to keep your heart going. Has no one to this point in your life mentioned it as unnecessary? How do you pronounce Hikey? Is it like Hike-E, or is it like Hickey?
I realize that your book is recapturing your youthful thoughts. I think this is one of its strengths. However, the illusion of the child's mind is pierced several times by you saying "I remember . . . ." It would be better to change those sentences so that the mind is not revealed or to slowly change your style as you age to add details to the settings and to the friendships. You mention two girls who befriended you, but no mention was made previously that anyone spoke to you in ways apart from the derogatory. I could not tell how old you were when your mother died. Nor could I determine Jeffrey's age as he quits school to begin work. And while I have not looked at your other manuscript, an explanation of what you realize about this childhood now as an adult would be a nice way to end the story.
I did like the book. I could see it as a story used in sociology departments as a window to the mind of children in poverty and dysfunctional homes. Good luck with this, I will keep watching it, and I hope these comments help. I would appreciate you looking at my book and any comments you would care to make.

writerwithacause wrote 1188 days ago

Jane,
I rebacked your book just as you asked. Of course this is an excellent read and I will support you any way I can. Congratulations on being number 3. Lisa

mlouisnielson wrote 1188 days ago

I read through your book, I did like how it begins with a six year old child. The style, from my perspective, was consistent with a six year old. It felt choppy with holes in the logic and knowledge of the child. This served to draw me into the story. In the first few chapters the foot stamping and touching of the wall with the other small anxiety symptoms were well placed. It felt like I was going into your mindset from your youth. The yiddish was fine and you do not need a dictionary of terms (I think) since most of them are easily discerned.
Later in the writing, though, it became frustrating that the style remained choppy and disjointed. There were paragraphs where two people would speak. Speakers were not always identified. The scenes were not laid out. You mention being 6 at the beginning. How old are Jeffrey and David? How old is your mother. How much does she weigh? What were the medical diagnoses? Do you have anxiety at this time? Some of the behaviors you write about would indicate obsessive compulsive disorder. What did the flat look like? Go into detail about the filth that so upsets all visitors to the place. I also am unfamiliar with the British school system. I thought by the end of the story you were 16 or so. Yet the style remained the uniformed six year old view of the world. For example, at the end, you are still stamping your foot to keep your heart going. Has no one to this point in your life mentioned it as unnecessary? How do you pronounce Hikey? Is it like Hike-E, or is it like Hickey?
I realize that your book is recapturing your youthful thoughts. I think this is one of its strengths. However, the illusion of the child's mind is pierced several times by you saying "I remember . . . ." It would be better to change those sentences so that the mind is not revealed or to slowly change your style as you age to add details to the settings and to the friendships. You mention two girls who befriended you, but no mention was made previously that anyone spoke to you in ways apart from the derogatory. I could not tell how old you were when your mother died. Nor could I determine Jeffrey's age as he quits school to begin work. And while I have not looked at your other manuscript, an explanation of what you realize about this childhood now as an adult would be a nice way to end the story.
I did like the book. I could see it as a story used in sociology departments as a window to the mind of children in poverty and dysfunctional homes. Good luck with this, I will keep watching it, and I hope these comments help. I would appreciate you looking at my book and any comments you would care to make.

The Collector wrote 1188 days ago

Jane, I have been away from Authonomy for a while as I have had a number of projects that have been taking up my time. However, I'm back. I recall your book from my last read of it and I have backed it again today if that has any benefit to you.

If you get a chance to take another look at the Collector of Tales, it would be appreciated, perhaps chapter 18 or 21 ?

kind regards

david
the collector of tales

EmilyJean wrote 1189 days ago

Excellent beginning. Just the second sentence is a bit awkward. I suggest breaking it into two sentences:
An eerie light had pulled me, running toward the window. Please don't let it be fire!

Terry B wrote 1189 days ago

Hi Jane.
Thank you for your comments on my book "Never Again" (now retitled Someone to Love Us). It has now been published by HC and is doing very well.
I have put your book "Breath in the Dark" on my W/List for the moment until I can sort out my shelf. I will make a comment soon when I have some time to spare. It looks a very good read and I'm looking forward to reading it.
It looks like you have had a very hard life. Best wishes for the future. Terry.

Justis Call wrote 1190 days ago

Back on my shelf - this is an intense story, difficult to read, yet enthralling at the same time. You deserve to be on the editor's desk!

Justis Call
Prestidigitations

abipenfold wrote 1190 days ago

Breath in the Dark -
this is an emotional read, and i agree with the comment above (stark silvercoin), that this book holds so much power. I immediately felt for the young girl. You're very good at pulling readers heart strings.
I'm really impressed with this - your writing and descriptions are vivid and utterly amazing. This does deserve to be published. Glad to see it on the ED.
Backed with absolute pleasure
abi

celticwriter wrote 1191 days ago

Hi Jane
:-)
blessings,
jim

jrevino wrote 1192 days ago

James Apologist referenced your book when sending me a message so i thought i'd take a look. i've only read the first chapter, but am impressed none the less. your writing style helps the reader feel Hikey's tension and fear. you immediately feel for the six year old and her plight. looking forward to reading on. well done. congrats.

Bandof1 wrote 1192 days ago

I think you meant she would go back to the floor not the door. I'm completely captured by the story being told. I will continue to read, and will comment again. Please let me know what you think of "Just Out of Sight" when you get the chance to look at it.
Bandof1 (Craig)

Bandof1 wrote 1192 days ago

I will read your story and let you know my thoughts. Please take a look at "Just Out of Sight". It was a labor of love for me. I hope you get somethingout of it. I look forward to your thoghts as well.
Bandof1 (Craig)

Brian Bandell wrote 1193 days ago

This is a moving story. You do a wonderful job of reliving your difficult childhood and capturing that perspective. If you can job your memory a bit more, it would be nice to read more descriptions of the settings. In the orphanage, how do the other children react to the commotion?

I know this is in your own words, but smoothing out the grammar is important. it would be a shame to have a publisher pass on this because of grammar when that can be corrected without taking anything away from the excellent story. Be sure that your clauses are next to the nouns they are modifying. For instance “Naked except for an old sodden dress,” should be followed by the noun it refers to and not a verb. The same goes for “sniffing and looking around.” I assume that the bed isn’t doing any sniffing. In same graph, wrong use of “:”. Use a comma there instead. In other places you put a comma where you should have ended the sentence. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with using short sentences too. In fact, they can be very effective at speeding up the pace of the story. When you use sentences with six or seven commas, that slows everything down.

Kudos to you for having the bravery to write this. Backed.

Brian

Karen Eisenbrey wrote 1194 days ago

Jane,

I got your message, and when I saw how close you are to the Ed Desk, I decided to help you out. I read chapter 1 of Breath in the Dark and found it very moving. Your simple, matter-of-fact style works very well for this. It is an adult voice, but very much in the mind of the child. The simplicity and lack of drama in the writing make the story all the more heartbreaking. The idea of a small child parenting her mother with so little support is troubling on so many levels. It shows how much a human being can get used to, but at what price. The fear of monsters and rituals to keep them at bay are almost typically childlike, but more sinister because there are real monsters: cold, hunger, illness of body and mind. Yet this little girl can still be happy and excited to go out with her mother to get their assistance money. She is still a child at that point, even though she has been forced into the role of an adult.

The main proofreading issue I noticed was a tendency to sometimes run two or more sentences together without punctuation or with commas when periods might make more sense. This is a minor matter and easily corrected.

Congratulations on making the top 5, and I wish you all the best with this project.

Karen Eisenbrey
CRANE'S WAY
TIME SQUARED

Inkfinger wrote 1194 days ago

Hi Jane,
I got your message and took a look at your book. I enjoyed reading it; you write well and the pictures you describe are so vivid to me.
If you would like to hear some of my thoughts (nothing major at all!): I probably wouldn't start it with "It was a dark, damp, misty night," purely because it's too much like the cliche: "It was a dark and stormy night!"
Also I noticed some of the sentence structure could flow better, e.g. "Naked except for an old sodden dress, turning away from the window, I shuffled in the dark back to the bed..." could be changed to: "Naked except for an old sodden dress, I turned away from the window and shuffled in the dark back to the bed."
There's loads of brilliant stuff in it I could praise you for, but I thought I'd try and be more helpful! :) It's only my humble opinion though!
You said you'd swap reads: Mine's a children's story, quite a bit different from this! I'd be really pleased if you'd read it. Don't feel obliged to back it, only if you feel it deserves it! Thankyou :)
Inkfinger.

Frank James wrote 1194 days ago

Hi Jane,
I received your message to-day and am delighted to register my vote for your excellent book, it goes on my shelf now. Perhaps you could inform me when you will no longer need my vote. I would appreciate your support for my book, (The Contractor) and look forward to hearing from you.

Frank James (The Contractor)

matt.thomas wrote 1194 days ago

An enjoyable read. I discovered this piece a long while ago, and am glad that it recently came to my attention again since it is a pleasure to revisit.

Marie Crist wrote 1195 days ago

I like it. It pulled at my heart strings and I love that you are bringing about awareness for children in situations where they are not taken care of and are having to grow up way to fast. Good Work!


Marie

celticwriter wrote 1195 days ago

Hi Jane, certainly will. :-)

Hope you can re-back mine, too. I'm slipping fast. :-)

jim

healthpolicymaven wrote 1195 days ago

Hi Jane,
I have been having trouble with this site loading books and even getting to my page the past few weeks, but I was able to read the first chapter again. I like the use of Yiddish sprinkled throughout and I do appreciate the imagination of the six year old at play. I found myself in the story quite easily. This is a courageous tale well told and I will back it.
Second read.
Roberta

D W McD wrote 1197 days ago

I have read to the end of the first chapter. It felt slightly dragged. The emotion of the events is what dragged the read along for me. I haven't seen anything at all for spelling or grammatic mistakes. I don't usually read this genre, but it may finally get a little more of a looking now.

All the best,

D W McDougald (Ecrius: Demon Untold)

Hydeshouse wrote 1198 days ago

A very interesting and emotional read; it leaves me with questions but am certain they will be answered in later chapters. You set out details sufficiently to give the reader an apt depiction of the child's environment, but not in such detail they become a drudge (ala Michener). The pace is right. I feel it deserves backing.

DB

Clare Morris wrote 1198 days ago

Have only had chance to read first chapter so far but I am totally hooked. I love your detailed descriptions and the emotion you make us feel right at the start - I felt right in the middle of the scene and connected to the narrator - very well done.

You are very deserving of a place on the editor's desk - I wish you all the best!

Clare Morris
The Cloud Drivers: The Giant's Storm

lisawb wrote 1198 days ago

Backed before and deservedly backed again.

Lisa