Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Before My Eyes"

Caroline Bock has a master of fine art degree in fiction writing from The City College of New York. Prior to focusing on her writing career, she worked as a cable television executive, including as the senior vice president, marketing and public relations at IFC and BRAVO. Her debut young adult novel, Lie (St. Martin’s Press, 2011), inspired by a brutal hate crime, was critically acclaimed and her new young adult, Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Press), just released in February, also takes inspiration from recent new events. Before My Eyes is about teens, mental illness and gun violence at the end of a long, hot summer. Bock currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two kids.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Before My Eyes and reported the following:
Much of the novel takes places at a fictional town beach on the south shore of Long Island, New York along the Atlantic Ocean. On this steaming-hot Friday at eleven in the morning—the days and time are listed at every chapter heading in this literary thriller—seventeen-year-old Claire has lied to her father and gone with her six-year-old sister, Izzy, to the beach. Claire has been taking care of her sister for months, ever since their mother had a stroke, and just wants a day of fun in the ocean and sand. But at this moment, on p. 69, Izzy has run ahead through the beach-going throngs, and Claire, in a panic, shouts, “Izzy” and sees this:
I catch my reflection in a pair of mirrored sunglasses. I look like I’m falling apart, hair out of my ponytail, beach bag over-flowing. He tilts his head, seeing me, watching me watch myself. In the reflection of his sunglasses, I’m all wide brown eyes. I’m distorted, elongated; but he doesn’t turn his head or take off the glasses, and I wonder if he’s looking for someone, too. He has a shaved head and a cold grin.

Claire can’t find Izzy in the crowd until—from behind this man, who we will learn much of in the novel, and who will change Claire’s life forever—Izzy appears.

“I’m right here,” she says. “Anyways I’m not afraid.”

“I’m not afraid either,” I say, though I am angry at the fear welling inside me.

The heavyset, bald guy trains his mirrored sunglasses on us. I look down toward Izzy. I’ve seen enough at my distorted image.

“Yes, you are, Claire,” says Izzy. “You’re always afraid something is going to happen to me.”

I exhale. We’re here. It’s going to be a blistering day. I am not afraid.
Visit Caroline Bock's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue