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Friday, May 3, 2013


     “No way.”
     “Think about it, Bernie. It’ll be something to take your mind off your eating problems—“
     “I don’t want to take my mind off anything,” I hissed. Good Bernie was starting to retreat, poking her head back into its shell as my newfound, nastier side sprung free. This topic of discussion always brought out the worst in me. “These are my problems. Not yours. If I want to take my mind off it, then I’ll do that on my own.”
     Half the times, I didn’t believe in what I said. But I’d caved into everything else but help. If I didn’t fight, then I’d have no character. I’d just be Bernadette Lisel, the Girl With An ED. (I'm not sure what ED means)I hugged my arms around myself and suppressed a shiver. Without the heater, the cold was starting to seep into the car.
     “Fine,” my mom said finally. “I understand.”
     A twinge of surprise made me catch my breath. “You do?”
     She nodded somberly. “You want to be independent, am I correct? From now on, I’ll let you do things on your own. I’ll rescind your name from my credit card. Alana lives nearby, doesn’t she? You can move in with her.”
     I couldn’t say anything.
     “Or.” Her face lightened and she looked over at me devilishly. “You can get a job.”
     All of my dread suddenly melted into something hot. “Mom, are you blackmailing me?”
     “No. It’s an ultimatum.” My mom started the car again. “Think about it Bernie. I really think it’s for the best.”
     But only an idiot would have to think about it. I may be a lot of things, but an idiot I am not. I put two and two together.
     No house. No money.
     No food. And this tells me that food is a lot more important to Bernie than she lets on.

Of course, to me, mom demanding she gets a job during her gap year hardly seems like something to get so worked up about. Especially if she's over 18 and basically living off her mom, who appears to be a single parent (I haven't heard any mention of dad). In fact, I'd think she might feel a little guilty for not having a job. Nonetheless, I'm curious how Bernie will react to all this and what sort of job she'll get and most importantly, what will happen when she does. 

I'm not a huge fan of contemporary tales but I will say I'm interested to see what happens next to Bernie. Nice job!


Alicia Willette-Cook said...

First thing that sprung out at me was the line "Good Bernie was starting to retreat.." GOOD BERNIE?? Where was she?! :) We haven't really been shown her! We've been shown a sarcastic, snarky, and ultimately bitchy Bernie. Definitely NOT a "Good" Bernie. So this line really took me out of the story.
That said...I understand that Control is a big deal for people with eating disorders (ED) which I didn't have a hard time with the tag...but careful. Again. It's only the first chapter. So I think what's going on is a struggle for control between Bernie and her mom. The trouble is that there's not enough at stake. Meh. So she doesn't get a job. She has to go live with her friend? OR, she gets a job? Again. Why is getting a job SUCH a huge deal? She's how old? And the end statement of No house, no money, no food isn't really true if she's able to just go live with Alana.
I'm interested to see how this plays out, but only because I'm curious to know why getting a job is such a big deal. It really seems like a non-issue.

Huntress said...

I'm sure glad that Alicia used the word 'bitchy'. I tried to avoid the term, but man alive, that is what I was thinking.

Bitchy, whiny, spoiled, ungrateful, lazy, expects everything to be handed to her, entitled to money she didn't earn...to add a few more.

If I'd talked to my mom like that at Bernie's age, OR ANY AGE, Hell would have been a cooler place for me.

Sorry, but Bernie is *not* very likable. I would stop reading.

She has real problems but you need to show them in a different way. Humor, self-deprecation, less internal, more dialogue that shows us her angst but not her Biotchiness.

Patchi said...

I agree with the comments above, the way the novel stands you have a less than sympathetic character and the stakes are low. However, I think I know where you were trying to go, based on this sentence:

Good Bernie was starting to retreat, poking her head back into its shell as my newfound, nastier side sprung free.

But for this to come across in the chapter you need the changing room scene. And her reaction needs to surprise everyone (including Bernie) because she has always been "good Bernie."

Also, her mother should mention why she had not pressured Bernie to get a job before. What was the purpose of the gap year and why does mom think it's not working now?

In terms of flow, I would suggest starting with part 2, move to the changing room scene, mom's reaction in the car, introduce the ED, the gap year and finish with the ultimatum.

I hope this helps.

Liza said...

Yup, if she were living in my house, she'd have a job. Now, perhaps there is a lot going on behind the scenes with regard to her getting help that would explain why getting a job is such a horror for her right now. Obviously those with ED's have self image problems...so perhaps there is something related to that...maybe she can't go out in public. Unless you tell us more, you are doing your character a disservice. You are making your readers dislike her. Could you tell us more up front so our impression of her changes?

Jess said...

I actually know someone just like this (without the ED, but same voice/circumstances), so I really enjoyed reading it and it came across as spot-on to me ;) Some characters are more flawed than others and I think that's okay. We don't always have to like characters.

Jess said...

Small addition--I meant to say that we don't always have to like characters, just find them interesting :)