Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Cheating for the Chicken Man"

Priscilla Cummings’s books include the highly acclaimed The Red Kayak and The Journey Back.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Cheating for the Chicken Man, and reported the following:
Thirteen-year-old Kate Tyler is not one to get riled too easily. But she’s fed up, and she’s desperate. The boy who bullied her brother in middle school has started it again in high school by stringing up a banner in the hallway that reads, “The Chicken Man Returns.” It’s a cruel reference to Kate’s brother, J.T., who lives on a Maryland chicken farm and has just returned after a year in juvenile detention eager to put the past behind and make a fresh start. Kate has torn the banner off the hallway walls and stormed into the school office to report the bully’s cruel act, determined to get immediate action. But instead of asking for the bully’s name, the secretary hands Kate a form to fill out.

On Page 69 Kate is furious:
“But you have to do something now!”

The secretary held up both hands. “Take your time. Fill out the form and bring it back. That is the protocol. We need the form.”

Protocol. That word again: the rules of appropriate behavior. “But this boy –“

“Look,” the secretary’s voice was firm when she cut Kate off. “Give us the information we need, and we’ll follow up on it.”

“What about the banner?” Kate asked, gently lifting the pile of papers.

But the secretary had moved on down the counter to the next student, who couldn’t’ get his locker open.

Kate was a mix of anger, frustration, and now, disappointment. Pressed together, her lips made a tight line....
This excerpt from Page 69 is a crucial turning point in the story because Kate realizes the establishment is not going to do anything to protect her brother. She will need to do it herself. And it won't be easy. She’ll have to set aside cherished principles and put her own future on the line.
Visit Priscilla Cummings's website.

--Marshal Zeringue