Monday, October 21, 2013

"Not a Drop to Drink"

Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion. McGinnis has a pond in her back yard but has never shot anyone, as her morals tend to cloud her vision.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Not a Drop to Drink, and reported the following:
Not a Drop to Drink is a story of survival in a brutal world where drinkable water is rare. It's also about a teen girl learning how to move beyond the feral isolationist lifestyle her mother taught her, and move from just surviving to living and becoming a true human being who can interact with others, and care for them. The voice is stark and bleak, the presence of fear hangs over the whole book. I think that page 69 is a good representation of all these things.

The scene finds Lynn butchering a deer she has killed, but worried that she hunted too soon in the season as it's not cold enough for her to freeze the meat outdoors. Her neighbor, Stebbs, is offering to cure it for her using salt (which she doesn't have) if she'll split with him anything she finds at a nearby camp where they believe the inhabitants have died off. The survival aspect is front and center, her interaction with Stebbs stiff and uncomfortable, as she's only recently begun speaking to him. As she walks away from her lifelong home to raid the stream camp, she feels anxiety and guilt, the constant worry of whether her mother would approve of her new ways hanging heavily around her.

From page 69:
She ignored him while she skinned subcutaneous fat off the carcass. he had a good point, but she didn't want to admit that she'd made a mistake in shooting the deer too early to freeze the meat.

"There's another way, you know," Stebbs said. "You can salt it, hang it in the trees to cure."

"I don't have enough salt."

"I do. I'll butcher this while you're gone; you split with me whatever the Streamers had."

Lynn didn't ask how he had enough salt that he could offer to preserve a whole deer for a neighbor. The process of rotting had begun the moment the heart stopped pumping, and already the flies were gathering at the fold of the wound she'd opened.

"Go get your salt then," she said stiffly.

Walking away from the house felt like a crime, even though she trusted Stebbs. The familiar roof looked distinctly odd from a distance, the tilted angles of the second story at odds with the lightly sloping section over the kitchen where she and Mother had always camped. When it was blocked from view by trees, Lynn clamped down on the surge of betrayal that filled her gut. She pushed the ever-present worry of whether Mother would approve to the back of her mind, as she crossed the clover field she'd seen every day of her life but never set foot in once.
Learn more about the book and author at Mindy McGinnis's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue