by Dave Amaditz and
Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to January’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut YA novelist, Jaye Robin Brown and her novel, No Place to Fall. Amber dreams of traveling to the big city where she can use her amazing voice to sing and meet new and exciting people. First, though, she must come clean about some trouble she’s found herself involved in, which will hopefully make life better for her and her family.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave – I chose this particular passage because when Amber, the main character, sings she feels like she is somebody, like she is free, which brings her closer to her goal of leaving small town Sevenmile.
As Pastor Early prays over me, I feel a simple strength enter through my fingers and my toes. All of these folks, the people of my childhood, are praying for my success. Success that means leaving them. Leaving my mountains. But I’m not like Kush. I won’t be leaving because I hate this place. I just want a bigger life somewhere, and I want to sing.
Marcy – Amber is passionate about singing. This is the first instance where she allows her mind to wander and explore the idea of using her talents outside of her hometown.
“It doesn’t matter. My mama would never let me be in a band. She thinks singing’s only for church and baking.”
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think about it much.” I’m surprised at my own answer. I mean, of course I’ve thought about it. I thought about it Sunday when Sammy asked me to be in his band. I thought about it down by the creek when Basil was talking about American Idol. I think about it all the time
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger? Amber’s life at home has always been filled with love. Even so, she knows her father has been cheating on her mother and she wonders if her mother is aware of what her father is doing or is simply naïve. My favorite cliffhanger occurs while Amber is in the mall shopping with her mother.
Mama slowly flips the cap on a bottle. She raises it to her nose, but the lilac smell hits us both quick. The bottle drops from Mama’s fingers. It’s the scent. Daddy’s other woman. Lilac with a hint of vanilla and spice. Mama shoves a handful of bills at the saleslady and grabs the bags.
Marcy – There is so much turmoil in Amber’s family life. Amber’s sister Whitney became pregnant very young and got married to Sammy who has many faults, including being a drug dealer. This chapter ending is heartfelt and foreshadows events to come.
“I love you, Whit.”
She doesn’t answer, but I can feel her tears as they hit my arm. I hope they’re going to lock her husband up for a good long time.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why? This book has so many great characters, all of whom play a pivotal role in the story, all of whom are so believable and so easy for me to relate. If for no other reason than to get to use another great line of dialogue, I chose Devon as my favorite character. He’s Amber’s best friend, someone with whom she has shared for so much of her life almost all of her secrets and desires - - and someone that also happens to be a homosexual, which is key to understanding the following line of dialogue. Amber has just told him she had sex with his brother. His reaction caused me to laugh out loud.
Dave – “Mad? I love my brother. I love you. It’s the closest I can ever come to hooking up with you myself.”
Marcy – There are so many favorite characters to choose, but Devon’s character hit home for me. He is Amber’s best friend and regardless of her imperfections and the bad choices she makes, he loves her. He remains her best friend throughout the novel and the rock that supports her when she falls. His endless humor and good spirit shines through from the beginning to the end of the novel as demonstrated in the line below.
Devon purses his lips and gives me his best Marilyn Monroe. “All right, darlings, let’s go find us a man.”
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description? The town where Amber lives is near a rest stop on the Appalachian Trail. She likes to go there to meet the hikers passing through and to hear stories of places she only dreams of going. More than that, while she’s high in the mountains it helps her to escape some of the more unpleasant things life has dealt her. These few lines beautifully describe her feelings.
Up there, the air felt clean. I felt free, like it didn’t matter who I was or what I did. I was like a current in the air, flying, swirling, traveling. From up there, this place looked beautiful, but from down here…
Marcy – I adore Amber’s Mama. There’s a scene later in the book where Mama shows off her strong self, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. This offbeat image of how Amber sees her Mama is said so well in a few words.
I wrap my arms around her. People may make fun of fat people, but I like having a squishy mama. She’s comfortable.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue? This particular line of dialogue comes from about midway through the novel. Her sister, Whitney, is speaking and I think it highlights well why it will be so difficult for Amber to achieve her dream of leaving home.
Dave – “Life. Just. Is. I’ve got Sammy. Daddy’s got Mama, and Mama’s got Daddy. And you, you’ve got a wild dream that’s going to do nothing but disappoint you.”
Marcy – Some of the scenes and exchanges between Amber and Cheerleader Amber are hysterical. I had to share two scenes with the two girls, although there are three girls named Amber in the book!
“You’re a gossip girl,” I say, nudging her with my arm.
“Yes, but I’m one that’s made of out fairy dust and unicorn fur.”
Then another scene when Cheerleader Amber wants to go into Amber’s attic to explore.
“So you’re not afraid of ghosts, but you’re afraid of spiders?”
Amber shuts her car door and follows me. “Girlfriend, have you not been reading all those new paranormal romances in the library? There are some really hot ghosts.”
To read more about Jaye Robin Brown and her young adult novel, No Place to Fall. go to: