Sunday, May 7, 2017

"The Scattering"

Kimberly McCreight is the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, which was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Alex Awards and was called Entertainment Weekly’s Favorite Book of the Year. Reconstructing Amelia has been optioned for film by HBO and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films. McCreight’s second adult novel, Where They Found Her, was a USA Today bestseller and a Kirkus Best Mystery of the Year. The Outliers, the first book in her teen trilogy, also a New York Times bestseller, has been optioned for film by Lionsgate, Mandeville, and Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard. The second book in the trilogy, The Scattering, is now out from HarperCollins.

McCreight applied the Page 69 Test to The Scattering and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Someone has to go after him. Do you have a boat or scuba people or something?”

“We can talk about that after you step over here, miss.” When I look quickly again, I see the female officer has curly hair pulled back in a ponytail. And she’s waving me toward her. “Take a step or two away from the edge, hon. Toward me.”

The way she says “hon” has a warm ring to it, but she’s nervous. I can feel it. As I turn back to the water, I see her look down at my shoeless, possibly bloody feet. I get it: I look unhinged. But she is trying to be patient, to give me the benefit of the doubt. Her partner, on the other hand—young and jumpy and overmuscular—seems like he is going to pounce. They are focused only on me. They don’t understand what’s going on. They’ve been misinformed.

“You’re wasting time! It’s not me, it’s my friend! He jumped!” I shout back at them. “He is going to die down there if you don’t hurry!”

“We want to help you,” the female officer says. She is calmer now, like she’s hit her stride. “But we can’t until you step away from the railing.”

Help you. They are still not listening. I am just going to have to make them.

“If you want me away from the railing, then send somebody down there!” I scream, jabbing a finger toward the water.

I whip around and lean way back on purpose over the railing. The female officer stops, but her partner is still inching toward me, off to the side.
Page 69 of The Scattering drops you in the middle of Wylie’s frantic race to save a despondent Jasper. Or so she thinks. As has been the case for Wylie since the start of her journey in The Outliers, things for her are never as simple as they seem.

But Wylie is right about Jasper struggling. Ever since they returned from the abandoned summer camp in Maine (where they were being held at the end of Book 1 of The Outliers trilogy) Jasper has been battling overwhelming grief and guilt. Meanwhile, Wylie has been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to make sense of what it means for her to be an Outlier.

In this particular scene on page 69, Wylie believes—quite correctly—that Jasper is in danger, and once again she finds herself cornered physically and completely misunderstood by the well-meaning people around her. People who think they are “helping her,” even though they are doing just the opposite.

In that sense, page 69 of The Scattering is very representative of the rest of the book because it encapsulates Wylie’s struggle in Book 2: now that she knows she has this Heightened Emotional Perception, she must learn how to follow her own instincts in the face of those who refuse to understand. But this scene marks only the very beginning of Wylie’s fight in The Scattering. It is also a good demonstration of the fast-paced action in the story, which is ultimately very much grounded in an emotional journey.

As bad as things seem at this moment on page 69 for Wylie, though, things are about to get much, much worse. You’ll have to read on to see if Wylie is able to figure a way out this time.
Visit Kimberly McCreight's website.

The Page 69 Test: Reconstructing Amelia.

--Marshal Zeringue