The Flash that Lingered

L.K. Madigan’s book Flash Burnout carries the best front-cover blurb ever. Perhaps this was the actual query letter format that caught the eye of an agent and led to Madigan’s first publication. The blurb is styled as camera shots–capturing the characters that are caught in the teen triangle of the story and reflecting not only the thematic structure of the story but the turning point as well. Maybe all-too-tidy for some, but it appeals to my innate delight in roundness. Two of the characters are related through their love of photography, and yet the technology also betrays them to the third.

Like an unexpected camera-flash in the eyes, this story lingered in my mind from the days before I started this blog, maybe even from the days before I decided that YA was where I wanted to thrust my swordly pen. And finally I returned to Flash Burnout, with the happy rediscovery of that catchy cover flap. Too, the interesting way the author chose to illuminate the wreck that meth makes of a life and a family–through the safer eyes of a narrator from a fun and functional family–probably provided some inspiration for the choices I’ve made in my story. The deadly reality of people living in the midst of a revolution is revealed only as it unexpectedly connects to the dramas of people in the relatively stable world of the western U.S. It doesn’t submerge young people in the terror, but it reminds them of its existence and shows how caring for individuals can connect us across vastly disparate circumstances.

Because I seemed to have learned something helpful from that book, I looked up Madigan’s website, only to find that she had passed on after only one other published title. A loss for many, but all the more reason to urge readers to pick up what she has left us.


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About sidney woods

After a couple of practice novels, I'm now engrossed in an effort to create my first YA story, set in the tumultuous year of 1980. The best of YA stories fit my passion for reading that's worth something, so I think about those stories 'out loud' here.

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