This is the final post of my month-long Writer Igniter Reading Challenge. It's the first time I've read and analyzed a story with "writer's eyes," attempting to decipher why the author made the choices in crafting their story that they did.
I've learned to ask myself how the what reflects the why and how the writer connected the way they wrote with what they were writing about. As Gabriela Pereira puts it, how does the way it was written reflect and support the deeper meaning of the book?
To find out, I am analyzing a particular scene in Sarah Addison Allen's book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by looking deeper as a writer than on the surface as a reader.
In the scene, Julia is in her kitchen about to make a hummingbird cake. She has decided to tell Sawyer about their daughter she gave up nearly twenty years earlier - a daughter that Julie hoped, like her father, had the uncanny ability to smell a cake being baked from anywhere. The scene ends with Julia opening the window so the smell of her baking will float out to her daughter, wherever she is in the world.
There is both trepidation and resolve in the way Julia is described in this scene. She is a baker, so why tip-toe around to bake a cake? It denotes the private moment Julia is taking. Sarah has also revealed to us in this scene that Julia's compulsion to bake is more than just because of Sawyer or skill - it's her connection to her daughter.
The choice of a hummingbird cake lends to the imagery of the baking cake's smell not just floating but flying toward her daughter like it has a mission. The last three lines are separated from each other and the rest of the scene:
She would make it light enough to float away.
She reached over to open the window.
To float to her daughter.
They give a visual break and an auditory pause in the narration, adding to the light and airy imagery. Once again, the author is drawing us back to the book's theme: What secrets have ruined, the truth can renew.
The scene is an example of how Sarah gently weaves magical realism into the story. The fantastical moments are not overdone. Instead, they are like a fine thread Sarah has running throughout the story connecting the characters to each other and to the town.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon was a dreamy, satisfying read and an excellent choice for this reading challenge. The characters, the setting, and the magical elements blend well. I look forward to diving into more books by the author, as both a reader and a writer.
Missed a post? Click HERE to view all the posts in my DIYMFA Writer Igniter Reading Challenge.