Author: Jincy Willett
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
Ingenious and engaging format for a novel – part mystery, part character study, part exploration of fiction-writing (good and bad). The book is structured around a fiction writing workshop, led by Amy Gallup (one-time promising prodigy, published in her 20s, now closing in on 60 and no longer writing). The cast of characters are an assortment in her latest writing workshop, men and women of various age, interest, and talent.
The opening chapter (and a handful of other vignettes in the book) is written from the point of view of one of the workshop attendees and is bristling with nastiness and sarcasm. The remainder of the chapters are structured around each class (classes one through nine). The author intersperses Amy’s observations of her students with the students’ writings. As classes progress, one student begins to anonymously snipe at other students’ writings (a mocking poem, a lewd sketch, disparaging comments in the margins), devolves into mean pranks, and then worse. Amy and the class members decide to persevere and everyone starts wondering who the "sniper" is and what will come next.
The book is sharp and funny and sad and insightful. Recommended for those who love to read or write, for those who don't mind some fraught self-examination, and for those who want a mystery of a different sort.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...