Obviously the thing that attracted me to this novel was the title: How to Write A Novel. That’s like candy for people like me. And I must say that Melanie Sumner does a surprisingly good job at unfolding the story in a way that corresponds to a How To book about novel writing.
It should come as no surprise that Aris, the young protagonist of the novel, is trying to write a novel. Using her (dysfunctional) family as material, she follows the advice given in a book about writing a novel in 30 days. This comes off as a very successful narrative technique in the early parts of the novel, but by the half way point, it flounders a little. In a way, that’s ok because there is enough in the story to keep it going.
How To Write A Novel is one of the first novels I’ve read that really captures life for teens in the age of social media and mobile devices. I know there are other books out there that deal exclusively with this this issue, but I don’t read YA. Aris has to deal with her on-line identity, a long distance relationship and the fact that others may know it’s over before she does.
Who would like this book? The publisher draws comparisons to Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (review), and I tend to agree with that to a certain extent. Although Bernadette has a little more depth to it, both are humorous reads that focus on daughters taking control of family life. Sumner has written several other books, none of which I’ve read, and I don’t know if I’d go seek them out, but if I were in the right mood and came across one in the library, I’d pick it up.