Let it never be said that I cannot take constructive criticism. My Publisher's Weekly review -- the one that I "earned" by making the top 250 in this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award -- arrived by owl post today, and I think it just about sums up why I did not advance through to the next round.
Here it is, in its entirety:
This amusing epistolary manuscript lacks shape and any semblance of dramatic trajectory. It consists entirely of a series of emails from rookie teacher Jack Woodson to a former colleague of Jack's at Heat Pumps Unlimited, where Jack had worked as an engineer. The emails document Jack's first year teaching third grade at a public school in a low-income neighborhood in Dallas--an experience that is hilarious, frustrating, and disturbing. Among the anecdotes, a little girl asks Jack how big he is, and it turns out she is referring to his genitals; Esteban screams out his answers to questions and changes his answer every time he's asked, even if he was right the first time; precocious Ariel not only does great work, she critiques Jack's classroom management; and scary kids like Jun'tober have even scarier parents. Jack's emails are entertaining, but about a third of the way through, his relentless joking and constant pop culture references start to grate, and the reader wishes the missive would start to take a direction. Instead, he just keeps joking his way through the school year. The book gets an A for amusement, but when it comes to story or emotional resonance, it gets an "incomplete."
Hey, I never claimed that Learn Me Good had a plot. It really IS just a chronicle of a school year. There is no murder, espionage, low cunning, or even mistaken identity discovered too late. However, in my (its) defense, it was never PROVEN that Jessica actually was referring to my genitals. I'd still like to give her the benefit of that doubt.
Honestly, having written the book and knowing full well that it doesn't really have a plot, I'm quite happy to have received an A for amusement, since that was what I was really after.