Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"Wider than the Sky"

Katherine Rothschild, PhD, is a Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, a former Arabic dance instructor, and an obsessive food truck follower. She's the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center artist's grant, and her personal essays have been published on KQED/NPR, in the San Francisco Chronicle, and in several other publications. She graduated from UC Irvine's creative writing program and earned an MFA in fiction writing at St. Mary's College of California.

Rothschild applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Wider than the Sky, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Wider Than the Sky, new friends Sabine and Emma are discussing a boy they both have a crush on, and Sabine is hiding her feelings about Kai from Emma. This page contains one of my favorite lines in the book—and I’m so glad my editor, Dan, didn’t make me cut it. Emma asks Sabine point-blank if she likes Kai, and this is how she responds:

“’Uh…’ My smile slipped into the neckline of my dress. The truth: I’m into him like he’s the best book in the world and I want to read his pages until they turn to dust in my hands. The partial truth: ‘He’s nice.’”

This moment is why, for Wider than the Sky, the Page 69 Test works well. The theme of the book is honesty—with yourself and others—and that’s addressed here. Sabine often uses the term “the partial truth” throughout the book. Two other topics on the page are fashion—which I love and there is a lot of in the book—and poetry, which Sabine bursts into when she’s nervous. So this page gives readers a small taste of what reading the whole book will be like.

One character the page leaves out is Sabine’s twin sister, Blythe, who is a big part of the conflict of the book. Some of the biggest fights I’ve had with a certain someone in my life came through in the moments when the sisters disagree, or see things differently. But even the theme of seeing things differently, shows up here despite the absence of our co-leading lady, Blythe.

When you break down this moment in the book, in just one page we can see the main story arc—why Sabine and Emma are talking: to solve the mystery of why the Braxton family owns a dilapidated mansion in Thornwood. Secondarily in the same scene we get the beginning of the B-story, or sub-plot, and that’s a love story between two poem and lyric-quoting teens who might or might not end up together…to find out you’ll all have to read the book!
Visit Katherine Rothschild's website.

--Marshal Zeringue