Saturday, September 12, 2020

"The Second Mother"

Jenny Milchman is the USA Today bestselling Mary Higgins Clark award winning author of five psychological thrillers, including Wicked River and The Second Mother.

Milchman applied the Page 69 Test to The Second Mother and reported the following:
From page 69:
The ferry threaded its way through an array of boats competing for space in the water. Working boats; these weren’t luxury liners or speedboats for play or sport. Shiny with many coats of paint, lobster traps stacked on their decks, loaded down by coils of rope and blocky tanks. Striped buoys trailed long lines, which tangled amidst strands of kelp, both visible beneath the moving surface of the sea.
I think the Page 69 test applies almost perfectly to The Second Mother, highlighting many of the facets I hoped to put in the novel, in this one page and even just in the paragraph above.

The Second Mother is about a woman who has nothing to lose—because she’s lost everything—who answers a want-ad to teach in a one room schoolhouse on a remote island off the coast of Maine.

Julie packs up the few things she can take, drapes sheets over the furniture in her house, and moves with Depot, her enormous rescue dog (and the only creature she loves in the world) two states away and twelve miles out to sea.

But on Mercy Island Julie does not find the fresh start she hoped for.

The section quoted above shows Julie’s arrival on the island, so in a sense is the first major turning point of the plot. (I think of a “turning point” according to Robert McKee’s definition: a scene or event that sends the story hurtling in an entirely new direction). And elements whose complexity Julie can’t yet begin to grasp, still less how they will impact her—such as moving to a place dominated by fishermen and the lives they lead—are on display here as well.

These lines from page 69 also showcase the imagistic, visual language I got for as an author.

And finally, the paragraph ends with something I’ve been told permeates everything I write: an uneasy sense of ominousness and suspense that only tightens its chokehold as The Second Mother goes on.

I hope you will read the book and tell me if you agree that this test captures the tale as well as I think it does!
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Second Mother.

--Marshal Zeringue