Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 67387
date submitted 28.02.2012
date updated 24.12.2012
genres: Fiction, Young Adult
classification: moderate
incomplete

Graffiti Heaven

Marita A. Hansen

THE BOOK EVERY TEENAGER WILL WANT
…to hide from their parents.

 

(Please note: The chapters on Authonomy have a few minor grammatical errors/typos that are not in the final completed version).



A group of high school students deal with sex, love, bullying, family and betrayal.(Edgy YA)


Life is turned upside down for Ash Rata and Tiana Lilu after they skip school to take their relationship to the next level. When their family and friends find out they are forced to deal with rumours, bullies, an overprotective brother and mortified parents.

Amongst the turmoil Ash grows closer to his stepdad, learning to trust again after years of holding a grudge against his jailed father. But following a guys’ night out together, Ash’s life is shattered when he wakes up in hospital and learns his stepdad has done something unforgivable. Traumatised, he pushes everyone he loves away, terrified that they will discover what really happened that night.

Set in the year 2000, ten years prior to Behind the Hood, Graffiti Heaven is the first in a series that follows Ash Rata's teenage years, a coming of age tale where both comedy and tragedy battle it out on a New Zealand stage.

 
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tags

bullying, coming-of-age, love, sex, shakespeare, teenagers

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HarperCollins Wrote


Broad Overview

Plot Summary
Set within a deprived neighborhood in early twenty-first century Auckland, Graffiti Heaven follows the stories of Ash Rata, Tiana Lilu and their teenage peers as they deal with the extremes of adolescent life.

When Ash and Tiana skip school together one day, their decision to take their relationship to another level sets in motion a devastating series of events breeding violence, familial discontent and jealousy. As things develop, Ash begins to confide in his step father, Chaz, a trust that is later abused when Chaz sexually abuses Ash.

A compelling and fast-paced story, Graffiti Heaven is an urban coming of age story.

Genres & Similar Authors
I felt that novel’s pitch was its central sticking point. While ‘Graffiti Heaven’ has the emotional intensity and young protagonists of a YA novel, it is sexually explicit throughout, with regular outbursts of violence and verbal assault. It could potentially fit well within the New Adult genre, aimed at 18-25 year olds, although the idea of a classroom romance might be off-putting to people at the older end of this age range.

It’s worth stating that I don’t think the darker themes of sexual abuse, specifically male rape, are what make this text unsuitable for a general, commercial YA imprint; more of an issue are the casual, often shocking instances of verbal abuse among the teenage characters (‘Your breath stinks of weed.’… ‘At least it doesn’t smell of tub-a-lub’s manky cunt like yours does’). While the language is not simply gratuitous and at times contributes effectively to the authentic adolescent voice that is one of the novel’s great strengths, most publishers would be wary of marketing this as a YA text without editing out the high level swearing.



First Impressions
One thing that struck me instantly was how well-paced the novel is. Set in motion from the first sentence, Graffiti Heaven has a wonderful trajectory that carries the reader towards the moment when Ash is assaulted. You have a very good sense of where to finish each chapter and effectively move the narrative forward by shifting the pov between characters. For the first half especially, I was unable to put it down!

The novel resisted many of the clichés that I was expecting and were, to some extent, encouraged by parallels with Romeo and Juliet. You quickly move away from the forbidden love trope to explore the protagonists’ relationships with other characters, introducing questions of sexuality, race and ethnic identity intermarriage and generational conflict. Although Ash and Tiana’s relationship is important, it is not the central concern of the novel.

The gripping opening sequence shows the writing off at its best, drawing us into the text through the fast paced narrative and succession of subtle details: the impoverished neighborhood, uninspiring architecture and the cultural and socioeconomic differences between Ash and Tiana’s families all lend an edge to the narrative, enhancing the thrill of the couple’s first, fleeting sexual encounter. It’s also a well-constructed passage, moving suddenly from exhilaration and gratification to humiliation, an inversion nicely captured in the dry humour of the chapter’s final sentence.

Where would this sit in the market?
My comments on genre also apply here: the text currently straddles YA and NA markets, which is something you need to address. NA, in particular, is the new buzz category of the publishing industry and is attracting a lot of attention in the media. Publishers are definitely looking out for original manuscripts that draw in older readers nostalgic for adolescence and thrill of experiencing things for the first time, which I think Graffiti Heaven offers.


Weaknesses

There were some aspects of the plot that I found implausible or distracting: it seemed unlikely that Ash’s grandparents would leave him in the care of his young cousin in the immediate aftermath of both his mother’s death and his own abuse at the hands of his stepfather, especially given his violent father’s recent release from jail. Equally, I did not feel there was sufficient justification in the text for Isaia’s gun attack on Ash and Chaz and attempted suicide, at which point the story veered into high melodrama.

While I liked your treatment of sex in Graffiti Heaven and the characters’ varied responses and attitudes to it (Jenna’s sexual vulnerability, Monika’s frigidity etc) I sometimes felt that it was their exclusive preoccupation. I would have liked to have learnt more about the other aspects of your young protagonists’ lives, which are often alluded to but left undeveloped, for example, how excelling at sport has become an avenue to self-betterment for Tiana. This is a common trope but one that is interesting to explore through from the perspective of a female character.

There are a couple of slightly jarring instances when you use the characters to voice safe sex messages, as when Ash muses on the benefits of the morning after pill: ‘Kind of handy having a pill like that, although Chaz said it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for condoms as it could be harmful if used too often.’ Though the intention to write responsibly for a teenage market is commendable, the tacked on second clause here felt moralistic and the language didn’t ring true of Ash (even when parroting Chaz).

In general, I found the adult characters to be rather two-dimensional, which is perhaps the point, but their motivations and personalities were undeveloped to the point of making them impenetrable – why is Ash’s mother with Chaz in the first place?




Strengths

In addition to the considerable strengths already mentioned, you establish an adolescent narrative voice very well which will appeal to readers for its directness and honesty: it felt very real. I particularly liked the varied emotional responses to sex among the teenage characters, from revulsion to uncertainty and confusion that help to capture an authentic adolescent voice while also establishing a lighter, more humorous tone such as during the early, oral sex scene between Ash and Tiana, when he ‘thought she’d just put it in her mouth and make him cum, not examine him like some science experiment, ready to be marked on his size and bloody colour.’

It’s very unusual to come across a young, female character who is as confident and sexually assertive as Tiana, which is refreshing. Her references to ‘what I’d done’ nicely capture that dual sense of their sexual relationship as something she’s proud of: an achievement, as well as something transgressive. This is typical your treatment of sex overall, which is incredibly direct and unflinching rather than idealized or sanitized, setting it apart from other YA and NA texts.


Decision

It’s probably evident from my comments that the main issue here is identifying the target audience/genre and making necessary changes to ensure it is clear who the text is aimed at.

Apart from that, you write very well and I am keen to have a revised version read by other colleagues.

Daniel Rider wrote 645 days ago

I started reading "Graffiti Heaven" a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it--and then life unfortunately pulled me away from Authonomy for a while. My life these days has a habit of doing that--but if it didn't, and this is the important bit, I probably would have devoured this book in a few days. The opening is awesome and spell-binding with all the fixings to make this a page turner for young adults, and also a lot of older readers.

Here's what I love. Marita Hansen has created a story with completely believable characters, but with so many twists and turns--and sexiness--that the whole thing is compelling. In the first chapter alone, there is oral sex, a complicated biracial relationship, gunplay, school rivalry, and a controversy over drugs. Wow. Also important is the fact that this reads and sounds great.

Well-done. Six stars and a future chance to be on my bookshelf, I think!

Daniel Rider
"Indian Summer"

Julio Guzman wrote 738 days ago

I didn't notice you put up a new chapter!

Chapter 27:
My face during this chapter------> •_o
This is the most shocking chapter yet and probably my favorite! I won't say anything on this comment so I don't spoil anything for other readers but....wha...urg...really? I knew there was something off about "him" but never in a totally psychotic way. Although at the end of the chapter what Joel said made me wonder if they were actually getting the real story. It's really sad what happened to Ash's mom and it was completely out of the blue (jaw drop worthy).

Jenna shows emotion! I love it when "antagonists" have a weakness or a vulnerable side that makes them even more real and relatable. The way she reacted shows that maybe she does care about the people she bullies, blackmails, insults, etc. I still like her "I don't give a damn" attitude though. That first part of the chapter was really entertaining!

I still can't spot any mistakes! Or maybe I'm just so wrapped up in the story that I don't notice...oh well.
Another great chapter!

stearn37 wrote 370 days ago

Hi
Well done on the great review and I hope it is published very soon.
From
John Stearn
Author of Derilium

Seringapatam wrote 483 days ago

Wow. Superb story and hooked me like a fish. i like the way you sell this to the reader and wish you luck with it in the future.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R)

KentJ wrote 611 days ago

I went through the first 5 chapters and I'll be going through the rest too. Wow. Good writing. Sucks you in fast and keeps you there (i hope). Seems a little adult for a YA book, but not really. I think if a kid is reading this book, then just by knowing that the kid can read, makes them mature enough to understand the content of the book. Kids today are not quite as naive as we may think. I hope to write more as I finish the chapters that have been submitted.

richiec wrote 621 days ago

Try taking the word had out of a sentence, and see if it makes the same sense as before. An editor once mentioned that she didn't like that tense, and I keep that as a rule whenever I'm writing. I'm talking about the principal and the expulsion memory.

Your detailing is very specific. It's your strength as a writer. You carry the descriptions through the prose very well, and I like that a lot.

Watch out for baggage that words carry with them. Assualted is not something colors do the the eyes. Try to pick a word that better suits your meaning. I know how that goes, don't want to lose the flow of the prose. That's what rewriting if for.

Stylistically the writing is very nice. The voice comes across as very "young," and captures the essence of your subject matter. I like that very much. The weakness would be a trying a little too hard to capture slang in dialogue. I think you might be forcing it with the spelling. You get the adolescence out well, try to back up on it when your characters talk.

The opening of a book is so important to get the reader's (and editor's) attention. Your's is great! The suspense and direct drama of young people making sex decisions if powerful stuff, and that in itself gives you a winner of an opening. For me, and take this with a grain of salt, I didn't get enough feel for the depth of the characters in this scene. You start with some very serious events, and then go for the graphic shock effect, instead of diving into your character's souls. The story is down there, in their hopes, their doubts, their fears, their uncertaities, and their insecurities. It's not in their genitals. Once again, I think the work has a lot of promise, but the characters have to make us feel for them, identify and like them. I'm not sure I see their moral sources, and the lip service given to the problems--dad in jail, marriage and divorce--doesn't make me care about them enough.

Altogether, you are right. There is a good teenage audience out there for your book. Young people will love it because it is "Honest," and that is your greatest strength. However, I sense a social barrier to your promoting this thing. Young people get most of their reading from schools, and the graphic sexuality is going to turn teachers off from promoting it to their students. College students wouldn't have that barrier, but they might be out of the "high school" mentality. Could this survive as an underground cult thing for teenagers? I could certainly see that happening, but I'm not sure that society at large is going to provide an avenue.

I'm not trying to be critical, but I think of this as how are your going to get the ms out to the public. I hope you can take these thoughts and find your way to make it happen. I love the honesty and frankness of this writing, and I think it worthy of gaining popularity and readership. I just think you might want to consider what you can do in revisions to make it more marketable.

Soulhaven wrote 633 days ago

I've been a bit busy to give this one a good look. But finally sat down to have a read, and oh wow what an oopening! Straight away we want Ash to get what he wants - even if it might not be the ideal activity for a 15, nearly 16, year old boy during school hours - and by the end of the first chapter there is definitely drama happening. I'm keen to read more, and I'm keen to see this reach the Editor's Desk. Good luck! (Nearly there!)

mikegilli wrote 635 days ago

Brilliant writing. Terrific storyline. Eye opening social insights.
'Behind the Hood' was good, but for me this 'prequel' is a 5 star winner.
Art that feels like a slice of real life.. how do you do that?
My advice? the complication of the teenage 'market' might be that in many
countries the last thing those in power want them to read is a slice of real life,
which could prejudice publishers.. Hopefully In NZ they're more progressive.
I think you could perfectly well present it, or your next creation, as a novel for adults.
stacksaluck..liked your site...mikegilli...The Free

SteveSeven wrote 644 days ago

Hello Marita,
I found your pitch interesting being an ex-pat NZer and so I read the first three chapters of your book and I am impressed with your style.
Straight from the first line the reader is hooked wondering how today will suck and why the narrator seems happy. The last line brings it into a full circle and is a very intelligent and funny way to round off the first chapter.
You paint th ereligious girl Tina well and she (like all the charcters) is very 3-d and realistic.
I like the crass desription given to compare women with coffee and it is a very typical, but original, way to describe adolescent attitudes to sex. It is important that you have been so open in your book about sex and, especially for the target market and the setting, it is well handled. too many people have considered sexuality (particularly teenage sexuality) as a taboo or even sinful subject and bringing sexuality into the open is not only important but necessary for the overall themes of your book.
Again with these themes the conflicts and bullying between Tianna and Jenna is something that many young adults will relate to with their own experiences. You have written in a challenging way which will make the reader think and understand the rise of the situations in, again, a 3d way.
I love the names you have chosen that help to illustrate the character's personalities. Im sure that we all have had an English teacher called Mr Ogilvy! ;o)
Overall a great book dealing with important issues like teenage sexuality, relationships, bullying and school in an intelligent and thought-provoking manner.
Well done, Steve

FrancesNewton wrote 644 days ago

Hello,

Really enjoying the book so far!

I can't say much more, because I'm just enjoying reading the story :) So your job is done!

I love the cover art as well :)

Daniel Rider wrote 645 days ago

I started reading "Graffiti Heaven" a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it--and then life unfortunately pulled me away from Authonomy for a while. My life these days has a habit of doing that--but if it didn't, and this is the important bit, I probably would have devoured this book in a few days. The opening is awesome and spell-binding with all the fixings to make this a page turner for young adults, and also a lot of older readers.

Here's what I love. Marita Hansen has created a story with completely believable characters, but with so many twists and turns--and sexiness--that the whole thing is compelling. In the first chapter alone, there is oral sex, a complicated biracial relationship, gunplay, school rivalry, and a controversy over drugs. Wow. Also important is the fact that this reads and sounds great.

Well-done. Six stars and a future chance to be on my bookshelf, I think!

Daniel Rider
"Indian Summer"

DaisyFitz wrote 646 days ago

Oh God, I'm at work and started reading - am running away from the PC now so I don't get sacked! 2 Chs in and I think I like this better than BTH. Real teen stuff. Love the R+J parallels. :)

You really are good.

Cx

Nepalwriter wrote 647 days ago

Your writing style is excellent, very clean and easy to read. You've capture the teen voice beautifully. I like being in the head of a teenage boy. I'm a YA librarian and we need books to get more boys interested in reading. I also like that you're writing about the real world. I do too. I hope you'll take a look at my YA novel, Everest Whispers, about four teens who set out to climb Everest. I used to lead treks to the base camp and know the area well.

Frank Talaber wrote 647 days ago

Well written I got right into these characters right away. Very realistic. I loved the comment about chicks being like ground and instant coffee. Great job
Frank

R. Dango wrote 654 days ago

I didn't expect myself reading, and let alone getting into a YA story now. But this one is excellent. Gripping, interesting, fast-paced and actually quite deep. I've only read chapter 1 now, but it gave me enough information without being rushed. I will come back to read more. Many stars! Great work!

R
The Forest of Vulcanus

Neville wrote 655 days ago

Graffiti Heaven.
Marita A. Hansen.

As with your previous book, ‘Behind the Hood’, this is well written and has good description to match. ‘Graffiti Heaven’ verges on the adult side but only just considering today’s Y/A’s knowledge from explicit media facing them every day.
It may be a behind-the-bicycle-shed sort of book, but I think it will go down well with the early age group that you’re aiming for.
I read to chapter five and enjoyed the story so far. The small pitch says it all and the book cover looks right to me.
Top stars for this, Marita, great stuff!!

Kind regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest – The Time Zone.

Queen87Lizzy wrote 657 days ago

This really looks like it'll be a great read. I'll be sure to check it out this weekend.

Queen87Lizzy
"Lost Diamond"

PenInHand wrote 657 days ago

I think I was expecting this to be a lot grittier than it was, but I couldn't say it wasn't honest. Your characters are well-developed and I rather liked them, especially Ash. Your writing itself is very clean and snappy without being too sparse. I think that while it is a very realistic story and that a lot of teens will relate to it, it wasn't quite exciting or sensory enough to keep me drawn in. Although it covered controversial ground, I found the actual descriptions of the events a bit tame; probably favorable since you are aiming at a YA audience but to me toning down the grittier stuff in an edgier story is like trying to take the carbs out of bread. You pull it off well, but I personally tend to prefer things that are a bit more full-flavor.

All that being said i will highly star this, but since you are already on the ED I don't feel right backing it.

Inbred Cat wrote 657 days ago

Tense, absorbing and never less than grittily real, this is writing of the highest standard, fully deserving of its top 5 status. I'm giving this six stars and putting it on my shelf.

Shelvis wrote 659 days ago

BHCG – “Graffiti Heaven” by Marita A. Hansen

I noticed a pervading theme of consequence in this, and how one minute can change so much. I don’t typically read YA, but in spite of that, the frankness of your writing drew me in and drove me forward. The situations your two MCs face are painfully real. I had forgotten what it was like to be in that world just before adulthood, trapped with so many others like myself, trying to make sense out of life or simply reacting to it with no thought of what it would cause.

Bookending the first chapter with a “this day sucks” theme was clever, I thought. I would have liked to have seen what was happening with Ash a little sooner; in that sense (imho) the narrative felt just a little interrupted. What happens with Tiana is so engrossing that it’s a bit of a shift when Ash is back on the scene. But, again, that’s just me and my unqualified opinion—I just say that as a reader. So that said, your pacing is swift. A lot can happen in a day!

Up through the end of chapter 5, I didn’t quite feel a strong connection with the characters, but that’s probably because so much was happening that there simply wasn’t time to delve into them yet. This might be the litfic in me talking—I would have especially liked to get into Ash’s head a little more. I definitely picked up on his feelings about his stepfather and the sort of nervous respect he has for his brother, though. I’m sure in later chapters you deeply evolve them.

Your POV is consistent with the characters, but I was a teeny bit fuzzy on keeping Jenna straight. I don’t know why, but for some reason I kept confusing her with Tiana! I’m sure that’s just a weird problem on my part, though. I wouldn’t take it to heart. ^_^

As I mentioned before, I enjoy your rapid-fire, frank style of writing. It’s very evocative of how we think at that age, and is one of the many things that breathe life into the story. As far as grammar was concerned, I didn’t find any glaring errors. This is tightly written and finely combed, and very easy to read. The dialogue is the same way: natural, flows well, and is blatantly realistic.

I like the spin you’ve put on the age-old story of forbidden love and the viciousness of love triangles. Your characters’ experiences and the way they deal with them are, I think, an original take, even though, again, I don’t read much YA.

In closing, you are a highly talented writer and deserve to be published. I think a lot of kids can relate strongly to this story, and I think it would do well. High stars and I wish you the best of luck.

~ Shelley

Jane Mauret wrote 660 days ago

Hi, Marita A Hansen – Grafitti Heaven
I am not certain I can comment about YAF as things have changed somewhat since I was a teenager. Then it was all hi-jinks at boarding schools and midnight feasts. However, what I have read impressed me from the outset. The story flows at a real pace which I imagine is what people want today in these days of instant gratification. You clearly have a way with the written word and as far as I could tell, the dialogue was appropriate to the age group. I found I was not skipping over paras as I often do; many new writers repeat themselves or try too hard to hammer a point home. We have to give the reader some space to imagine parts themselves. All I can say is good luck; I cannot offer you any advice as in my humble opinion you seem to have a handle on the genre along with plot and characterisations.
Jane Mauret (formerly Shannahan)

Ivan Amberlake wrote 662 days ago

Backed as promised, Marita! Good luck!

Serina Hartwell wrote 669 days ago

Good morning Marita,

I've finally got through my read requests to your book and was eager to get to it as you are so close to the top, and deservedly so. I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I read your first chapter. Your book is hard hitting from the start and beautifully written. The story flowed because the text flowed brilliantly. I liked the way you built your characters from the start and the way their live interwove. This was really nicely done.

I work with teenagers everyday and can assure you that your characters are true to form and believable, simply because they are exposed to so many things we weren't at their age. Thoroughly enjoyable and I hope you do well with this book!

All the very best,

Serina Hartwell

MarkAM wrote 670 days ago

Wow! High School was never like this when I was young, but it's quite obvious that in today's world, teenagers who are coming of age are exposed to much more than I ever was and have to deal with it all in the best ways that they can. You did a marvelous and insightful job at delving into the psyches of the characters; not only in regard to the young people but of their parents and others as well. The tempo flows smoothly and the situations of the characters are expertly interwoven. Edgy language among the young people for my time, but again in today's world, anything goes and it isn't as shocking today. I am certain that this book will be very popular among young people and I wish you all the best of luck.
- Mark

Jesserella wrote 672 days ago

Wow, this is really well written. It's gripping right from the start and your characters are really real and well thought out. Good luck with getting this published. :-D

Steph Merrix wrote 674 days ago

Hi
Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you - this is a well written piece that has a gritty and honest take on being a teenager , family dynamics and falling in love, things which can easily be related to on any level , for all kinds of readers and are well etablished through your characters and the situations which unfold around them
Well done & keep up the good work
Starred and on my watchlist
Steph

stearn37 wrote 675 days ago

Absolutely superb and I will placing my order when it is published.
from John Stearn (author of Derilium)

stearn37 wrote 675 days ago

Absolutely superb and I will placing my order when it is published.
from John Stearn (author of Derilium)

stearn37 wrote 675 days ago

Absolutely superb and I will placing my order when it is published.
from John Stearn (author of Derilium)

stearn37 wrote 675 days ago

Absolutely superb and I will placing my order when it is published.
from John Stearn (author of Derilium)

Amy Smith wrote 675 days ago

I read this a few weeks ago, but for some reason, i didn't leave a comment when i had finished reading so this is going to be from memory.
The writing is incredibly polished and effortless and you have achieved a great balance between dialogue, action and description.
There is a cast of believable well-written characters and it is great to see that their vulnerabilities are demonstrated well.
The twist of Ash's mum being killed was really shocking and woven into the plot extremely well.
This is a gripping, hard hitting novel, that truely captivates the reader all the way through.
I just wish i could find out what happens next!
Well done on a fabulous job: i sincerely wish you the best of luck getting this published. I would happily buy a copy of this book.
Added to my wl until i have a space on my shelf.
Amy :)

SirFurboy wrote 680 days ago

Hi Marita, You asked me to look at your work and perhaps back it. I have five books on my shelf I really like, and this is not my usual favourite kind of story, so apologies for not adding it. On the other hand, having read into it now, I can see why it is doing so well on authonomy. Your writing is fluid and engaging, and if my TBR list was not sky high, I could well imagine reading this book all the way through. Good luck with this one.

Salwa Samra wrote 683 days ago

Hello Marita, thus far I'm up to Chapter 5. I can see how Graffiti heaven will relate to many teenagers and young adults, especially to those who are involved in gangs. I related to the characters in that I grew up with a lot of Islanders, and quite a bit of memories sprang up for me as I read through the chapters. You certainly write well, and keep your audience captivated. Sharing the trials and tribulations that occur in High School, especially when it comes to sex and girls, the pressures and anxieties of teenage life. I'm hoping to read more and comment further, however, if time isn't kind to me, I'll probably only read up to a certain chapter, I am reading other books too. Well done. Salwa.

blue-eyed-princess wrote 685 days ago

Hi, I read both of your books, how ever this one caught my attention more. I love the characters already and I only got to chapter four. I will put it on my wl for now until further notice. Thanks for the message and best of luck.
Patricia aka blue_eyed_princess

JessW10 wrote 685 days ago

Hi Marita,
I really enjoyed this!
Love the protagonists and it captured my attention from the very beginning.
Very enjoyable!
All the best,
Jess :)
Would You Like Brains With That?

CrazyChick wrote 687 days ago

I'll be honest and say this stayed on my watchlist longer than it should have because I was not excited by the title. However, I started reading today and love it. I love your writing style, the characters, the twists, and the pitch. Backed and highly starred.

ceejezoid wrote 687 days ago

Hey Marita, I usualyy know why I've watchlisted a book but I can't remember what brought me to yours. Probably seeing you around the forums!

So, this is Young Adult. I actually think it has broader appeal than that - it would fit quite comfortably into what we used to call in film class 'youth'. Stories about youths, but not necessarily for them. I can easily see this appealing to older adults too!

Its very confident work. You use some beautiful imagery throughout - "power-poles punctuated the sidewalk", "tattooed with nastiness", "kissed the butt of the gun." You've really tapped into the insecurities and fears of being a teenager, from Jenna's flashes of humanity (and her inability to to stop being a bitch) to Tiana's meltdown int he bathroom. All three leads are believable and real.

Your dialogue is strong, the dialect giving flavour but not overwhelming the meaning.

Was trying to come up with crits, but struggling! All I got in 5 chapters was:

"Though, some dreg pulled a gun on him the last time, that experience putting him off from helping Hunter again." Feels a little odd, maybe because of the 'though' at the start.

"grumbled"at the end of chapter 4 sounds like she's a little disgruntled. Maybe soemting a little more dramatic - she's worried about Jenna's words coming true.

I've filled my shelf for the month and I like to keep stuff up for a while. You seem to be pretty settled and will move up as books get taken off the desk each month, but I'll give you a push when you're up there, or before if I re-shuffle. Have 6 stars for now though!

rob lowdon wrote 687 days ago

so glad you got in touch. read the first five chapters. highly starred and backed. look forward to seeing it take its deserved place on the ed's desk.

andraderebelo wrote 688 days ago

Marita,
Your writing is so admirable, i know i am not qualified to critique it, however, i can praise it. It's hot and gripping and...i can't stop reading.
Absolutely six stars from me and on my shelf.
Andy

LittleMiggy wrote 688 days ago

Hi Marita, just read the first couple of chapters of your book. The thoughts coming from Ash, during the first chapter were to the point and gritty - he had one goal in mind, and, he didn't want to be laughed at. There was no romantic thought coming from Ash at all, and that must be how you have succeeded here writing from a teenage boys point of view. Tiana and her family sitution look set to complicate a lot of matters and i fear that the outlook might not be favourable… You have built up a tense beginning and i am already wondering what will happen next. I will return to read more soon, I can understand where this would not be everyones cup of tea. Sent you some stars to be going on with. Good Luck. Little Miggy

Lenny Banks wrote 690 days ago

Hi Marita,

I read Chapter 16, this is an interesting and intuative account of teenage fantasy and experience. I thing you have an amazing grasp on your characters, especially and interestingly Ash (the male). I expect this book to motor up the charts and reward you and some.

Curiously, the characters in my book are a little further in terms of life experience, but I could see some of mine having experiences like those in yours, earlier in their lives.

Good Luck with this book, I am sure you will do well.

Kind Regards and Best Wishes

Lenny Banks
Tide and Time: At the Rock

Steve Merrill wrote 690 days ago

The first chapter is excellent, and skillfully sets up the story, both short term, we're left to wonder what's to come of this meeting with the psycho brother, and also the longer term; his violent father is getting out of jail soon. I feel you've described to the reader who Ash is, what makes him tick, and also his world and hook the reader into the story by raising those short and long term dramatic questions in the reader's mind. Well done; it's obvious you've put a lot of time into crafting this first chapter. Some will object to the language and sex in a YA novel, but you're up front about it so I don't see it as a problem.

jrapilliard wrote 690 days ago

Hi, Marita,
Just started reading your book, liked it very much, will put it on my bookshelf.
Perhaps you could have a look at mine, Penrose - Princess of Penrith. If you do, please comment, back it up?
Best wishes,
John.

Vince Paul wrote 692 days ago

I can't believe the opening. Amazing. Gutsy.

celticwriter wrote 692 days ago

Hi - nice read! Will have on my watchlist. Hope you can look at mine too.

blessings,
jim

Venenum wrote 697 days ago

Graffiti Heaven is a gripping and absorbing story of being a teenager. Although I am American, you can relate to these characters, the problems they have to face, the often scarring lives they live dealing with family and the outside, influential world. This isn't a milquetoast story. It's realistic, interesting, and as a consequence it is tangibly gritty for a YA. The characters are all well written and real and the writing around them makes it appear as a story the author has experienced and is writing as an autobiography. This definitely needs to be picked up and shown to the world for its talent, boldness, and creativity. Good job, Marita.

JC Whitfield, The Misery Jar

Venenum wrote 697 days ago

Graffiti Heaven is a gripping and absorbing story of being a teenager. Although I am American, you can relate to these characters, the problems they have to face, the often scarring lives they live dealing with family and the outside, influential world. This isn't a milquetoast story. It's realistic, interesting, and as a consequence it is tangibly gritty for a YA. The characters are all well written and real and the writing around them makes it appear as a story the author has experienced and is writing as an autobiography. This definitely needs to be picked up and shown to the world for its talent, boldness, and creativity. Good job, Marita.

JC Whitfield, The Misery Jar

Juliet Blaxland wrote 699 days ago

Graffiti Heaven is a really impressive and convincing piece of writing, with any of its 'edgy' darkness amply, and necessarily, balanced by some lovely colourful and amusing touches. The sense of place, a weatherboard-mall-pylon sort of place, is tangible, almost as a character in its own right. That the covers have been created by the author adds greatly to the general sense of authenticity. Brilliant. If I were an 'Edgy YA', I'd be a fan; if an agent, I'd snap you up, pronto. Sadly, I'm neither....
[See also minor nit-combing as a message]

R.J. Blain wrote 700 days ago

I've read the first three chapters of this, and I have to say, this is a doozy. It's a good read, and a really accurate presentation of what it was like going to school. These situations are all totally plausible, which gives it a hard edge. It toes some lines I'm not normally comfortable with, but your writing style is assured and engrossing.

I'll be backing this just based off of the first three chapters. Good work. I'd normally leave comments on things to fix and suggestions, but everything that came to mind was personal preference and things relating to my personality, not flaws in the book. I found it gritty and realistic, and i didn't notice any errors that prevented me from reading or getting into the story. I hope you manage to squeak onto the desk, this book deserves it.

Su Dan wrote 701 days ago

your effective writing style is easy to read, and helps your book a great deal to along its way.
backed.
read SEASONS...

trevca wrote 701 days ago

I have now read every chapter in this story and read the newest ones as they arrive. I'm quite addicted to this one. Great story and very nicely written. only problem i am having is I have little internet access and have to open a few chapters and take it home with the page still open. and of course that means i can't comment live on spelling and grammatical errors, which I noticed, however they have nothing to do with how smoothly this story is running. enjoying it no end.

Trev

Little angels

Eileen Kay wrote 702 days ago


Great cover. Very good strap line, too. It’s good to hear a plot that has some grit. Sorry but I missed your reference to Behind the Hood. This was set 10 years before that? Please give me a date? You may have narrowed your audience, and you didn’t need to. Readers want to know up front which decade a story is in, and it’s an easy detail to chuck in.

What do you mean, the first in spin-off series – do you mean, the first in an intended series?

I was wishing you’d use this precious pitch space to tell me about the characters, for example – their personalities. The plot points are plenty interesting, as it stands.

Something-or-other is “battled out on a New Zealand stage”. I wish there were another detail or two. I am half-hooked, and you could hook me in more convincingly.

It’s excellent to get into a “young adult” story that doesn’t mess around and is in no way coy about sex or anything else. This is really refreshing. Maybe some would call it bold and I say this is excellent.

Great ending to the first chapter! The brother of his girlfriend turns out to be an old enemy? Perfect dramatic ingredients.

I think young readers will welcome something this exciting and real and gritty. Well done and good luck with this, from

Eileen Kardos
The Noodle Trail