You'll remember Augustine's query, and my critique of it, from last week. Here we have his revision.
Dear [ ],
[PERSONALIZATION HERE: I am querying you because you are the author of one of my favorite books. (xx)]
I am seeking representation for THINK OF THE CHILDREN, an adult coming-of-age debut that’s complete at 97,000 words and which is told over the span of a single, pivotal day. Daniel Hoover, a twelve-year old latch-key kid who lives in a rural Midwestern town, has a special bond with his single mother, but she holds down three part-time jobs and he never sees her. In her absence, he looks after his mentally-challenged younger, he keeps the household running, and he balances his mother’s checkbook. In spite of this, he has never been in trouble at school and manages to become a division-level wrestling champion with an unblemished academic record.
Which is why Daniel has everything going for him. Except that he trips over words when he talks, rendering him awkward during conversations despite his large vocabulary. And except for no parental supervision, which he craves. Look beyond it. His life will change completely if he wins a sports scholarship to the elite Fieldstone Place Academy. Then he’ll be able to rise above his family’s staggering poverty and make something of himself. Today, a recruiter plans to visit to watch him during practice and to informally interviewing him after. But the school bully, Sammy, makes good on his threat that he’ll ruin the interview, resulting in Daniel and Sammy fighting during practice and Daniel striking Sammy so badly by accident that Sammy has to go to the hospital.
All of a sudden, Daniel’s fists become a way to express himself. He uses them to destroy school property. He uses them to take his aggression out on his brother. And he uses them to punch a glass door so hard that it renders his entire wrestling career over. By the end of the day, Daniel is kicked off the team, expelled from school and frightened of the person whom he has now become.
With the deepest sorrow, Daniel knows he has lost everything that he has fought so hard to attain. He knows he has lost everything for which he holds dear. When the pain over such losses is so acute that you have to say that, but you don’t, holding out instead for a future altogether different from the one you now know. Something maybe resembling the past, his past, the memory before this day, and how it burned bright and green and was full of boundless hope.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN is a critical dissection of a child’s indomitable spirit and fire against all odds and a tale about how school bullying can irrevocably alter one’s entire being. The book captures, without flinching, those moments in the day of a life forever altered by the actions we do and do not take; and the story of a person turned away from his natural path, turned to a new way of being. It will appeal to fans of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and, more recently, Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation because those books are also about children who grow up in hardship, who seek a better life, and who ultimately achieve that goal through hard work and hard-won triumph.
Please save your feedback for tomorrow, when I will share mine as well.