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4,170 You Wish You Were Me

About jkwsquirrel

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  1. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Some short thoughts on Commencement: Okay, so last one, huh? Commencement was the largest of the WAR books, and covered the longest time period, Billy's entire senior year. It was a little more difficult to write, plus my life blew up in the middle of writing it, so I'm not quite happy with it. Overall I'm happy, but there are things I wish I'd done better. Oh well, such is life! Billy - Billy is a mess at the beginning of this one, barely functioning except to be a vicious brat to his family and friends. He recovers enough to be fun again after a few chapters, and the haircut symbolizes his moving forward from the traumas he'd encountered. Finding out you're diabetic, on top of everything else, sucks, but that diagnosis helps push him out of his funk. Of course the big issue with Billy is his inability to tell Brett the truth about his father. When it finally all comes out, Billy deserves every bit of Brett's anger. Through it all, Billy does mature. He makes the big decision to say to hell with the rules and dance with Brett, publicly declaring his love, and being willing to sacrifice something he really wanted in the name of love. Brett - So I guess the big moment of Commencement for Brett was breaking his leg. I foreshadowed the heck out of his fear of bikes and his previous accident leading up to the moment where Brett snaps his leg in half. He's lucky to be walking at the end. Of course, the accident leaves Brett with lots a free time and a bug put in his ear by Joey that the two of them might be brothers. Giving Brett lots of time to think and no way to get around and talk to people is a recipe for disaster. The boot on Brett's leg also leads to the discovery of George's secret treasure. B&B - I'm very happy with how the dance came off. It all came together perfectly. Dustin - Dustin became more and more of a bit player in this one. Billy and Dustin are moving on. They do share the scene at Dustin's house where Dustin is able to clear the air with Billy, admit his love, and then set Billy free. His growing sexual appetite reveals that he hasn't quite gotten over what happened to him, and he's overcompensating with random encounters. Paula - Great to see Paula's growth in this one, from an opponent of the boys' relationship to one of their biggest supporters. Dr. Reilly - Wow, what a bitch! Lied to Brett from the beginning, all to benefit herself. Her manipulation of Billy, knowing exactly how to pull his strings and how to exploit his autism, was especially heinous. And she never stopped manipulating the poor boys, right to the end. School life - One of my themes in the story was that it wasn't the kids, who Billy was so afraid of, that he needed to worry about. It was the adults. One of my favorite moments, Mr. Hartley's nastiness. He thinks he's so smart. I also liked that his name was Jeremy. I mean seriously, what kind of villain is named Jeremy? Overall, I was happy with Commencement for the most part. Some things I wish I'd have done better. Maybe I'll have better luck with Dustin's World.
  2. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Continuing my reading of WAR for fun and offering my perspective on the story for anyone who is interested. The title – Retaliation was not the original title I had planned for part 5. In fact, until it was nearing time to publish it Part Five was named “Secrets.” And true, there are some big secrets which are revealed in Part Five. But Retaliation seemed to fit the war theme better, and the acts of revenge in the story are key. Also, I saw Retaliation as kind of the counter-point to Rehabilitation. Billy-Brett – Knowing that Rehabilitation had featured a lot of friction between the boys and that Commencement would feature the big break-up and prom reunion, I wanted there to be almost no fighting between Billy and Brett in Retaliation. While there is tension in almost every relationship in the book, there’s very little between the boys, and any tension is quickly brushed aside. There is a little mini-story of Brett wanting to hold hands and Billy not quite being ready for that, only for Billy to be the one who grabs Brett’s hand in public on the walking trail in the last chapter. For all of Billy’s cowardice, he sometimes surprises us with bold actions when it comes to Brett. Also, there’s the different sides of the boys that come out when they’re having sex. Shy, awkward Billy turns into this wild animal while loud, boisterous Brett becomes the quiet, introspective one who just wants to hold hands and snuggle. It’s a kind of reversal that takes place when they make love and get in touch with their deeper feelings. Billy – Billy kind of takes a back seat in this one, letting Brett and Dustin be the primary actors. But Billy does have his moments. There’s the light-hearted storyline of Billy’s attempts to get his license, which demonstrate that he cannot rely on talent and book-smarts if he wants to be successful in life. Billy seems on the cusp of some big breakthroughs, only to be undone by the triple traumas of losing his dad, almost seeing his best friend die, and being assaulted by Joey and then Jack’s threats. By the beginning of Commencement, it seems like all of his gains have been wiped out, and it will take that whole senior year to recover. My favorite moment for him in Retaliation is right after he discovers the identity of Brett’s father, and his cocky attitude about having figured it all out. It’s the same cocky attitude he had the day after he first had sex. That’s a fun area to explore. Brett – Retaliation was the counterpoint to Rehabilitation for Brett. Brett has matured considerably since Rehabilitation. That moment when he said he didn’t want to be a bad kid anymore was a true turning point for him. He’s willing to take his medication, and it doesn’t change who he is, it just takes the edge off. This is Brett at his best. He is the one who finally breaks Dustin out of his downward spiral by confronting Mrs. Smith and then Dustin himself. The keystone of Brett’s entire journey in WAR is his reaction after getting destroyed by Dustin. After everything Brett had done to Dustin, he knew he deserved what Dustin did to him. Dustin beat the hell out of him in one of the most brutal curb stomp beatings imaginable. But he didn’t fight back or whine about it, he took it like a man, and afterward he stood back up on his own strength and began trying to help Dustin confront his abuse. That is Brett’s finest hour. The war between Brett and Dustin ends not with a decisive victory, but with Brett’s offer of peace. Brett’s humanity shines through in Retaliation. He is obviously traumatized by the events that take place, haunted by his role in causing them. The vacation to the cabin at the end is more than needed and much deserved. Dustin – And conversely, this is Dustin’s lowest point. The abuse by his father has taken a disturbing turn into violent sexual assault. Dustin is already traumatized and breaking apart when we meet him. It was already too late to spare him from the violence he experienced, but the question becomes, who will save him from his evil father? That it is Brett who finally exposes Dustin’s secret life to his mother is too much for Dustin, who turns to violence himself in a brutal beatdown of the very one who saved him. Feeling completely hopeless and worthless, he turns to trying to kill himself. By drinking himself stupid before cutting himself, though, he accidentally saves his own life before Billy finds him. I included a scene between the beatdown and the suicide attempt of Dustin and Billy meeting on the hill where Dustin seemingly has a moment of clarity and a peacefulness about himself, even professing his love for Billy and kissing him. I included that scene because when someone is going through a mental breakdown, sometimes when they have decided that they are going to kill themselves they can shift suddenly and seem at peace. It’s actually a sign that they’re in serious jeopardy because they’ve already made the decision. Scary stuff. (“They seemed like they had made peace with everything.”) I tried not to be too graphic with what happened to Dustin, but it’s still very disturbing to hear him describe it – selling his soul one piece at a time until there was nothing left. George – How the mighty have fallen. George has become a shell of his former self, feeling useless and worthless as his body refuses to work as it should. He has accepted that his life will soon end, and from part six we know that he will only have a few more months after the cabin before he will die. It’s sad to see George like this. I think one of the saddest scenes I wrote in the whole series was George’s breakdown. But one of George’s best moments was his last one in the story at the cabin. Had George not died, maybe Billy would have had the confidence to face his fears instead of being consumed by them. One more note about George, in the early chapters of the series Billy comments that he’d never seen his father without a shirt. He gives some hints as to why that is, but it is Paula who will eventually reveal that he was still scarred from the abuse and beatings of his father. George was one of my favorite characters and I hated to kill him off, but it was necessary for the story. Brett’s parents – So Billy finally puts the pieces together and discovers the identity of Brett’s father is none other than community hero Jack McKenzie. Turns out their love affair was far from a one-time accident either. Billy quickly discovers he’s in over his head when he tangles with Mr. McKenzie, frightened to the point of throwing up over the thought of what Jack could do to him and his family. While Jenny Reilly was never the greatest of mothers, the revelation and the lengths she went to hide her secret revealed a darkness to her character. She manipulated Billy easily, using her career skills to run circles around him and confuse the poor boy to the point that he thinks he’s doing Brett a favor by not telling him. Most of the drama between the boys in Commencement is caused by her manipulation of Billy. Brett’s hatred for her was well earned. Paula – Speaking of manipulation, Retaliation exposed us to Pastor Carl’s manipulation of the whole town, which sucked in Paula under his cult of personality. He got to Paula at a desperate moment in her life, and her devotion to him grew more intense as the story progressed. I never intended Paula to be a villain in the story. Rather, I thought of her as a victim of Pastor Carl’s machinations. Eventually, her love for her son would prevail, but only after a lot of struggle. George reveals that Paula has known about Billy’s sexuality for a long time before the truth comes out. I like that Paula didn’t flip out about it. “Oh please, I’m your mother.” Overall, there was a lot of action in Retaliation. It’s probably the fastest-paced book in the series. It’s quite the roller coaster, mixing drama and humor. In the same chapter, we see Brett trying to deep-throat a banana and find out about Dustin’s violent sexual abuse, in another chapter is one of the series’ silliest love scenes followed by Dustin’s brutal attack on Brett. I tried to solve some of the series’ issues while setting up the last book. It has one of the best endings in the series and wraps itself up nicely.
  3. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    That's kind of why I didn't make a big deal out of it. If you could see it, that was cool. If not, that was cool too. It was just there. I just didn't want it to be a Dumbledore moment, where after it's all over Rowling was like, "Oh yeah Dumbledore was gay. Didn't you know?" There was no context for it at all. Just the author throwing it at you after the story was over. That's why I included the reveal in the story. Billy was obviously struggling with something along the way, and I wanted to offer as many clues as I could without revealing it. When he stormed off to his room and threw a tantrum like a toddler, there was a reason for it. Readers all along were seeing that there was something that just wasn't quite right about him, but couldn't quite put their finger on it. That was what I was going for. And high-functioning autism is incredibly difficult to diagnose and understand, as DQ has described. From the outside, Billy looks just like any other kid. But when you get a look inside his mind, you get a different perspective. Unfortunately, the way I chose to do it did kind of make Billy's parents out to be bad parents which wasn't my intention. That's my fault. I couldn't think of a better way - I should have. Maybe Dr. Reilly should have suggested it to Paula in a moment of anger or something? That would have made her denial more consistent with her character. Yeah, just go with that!
  4. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Yeah, these diagnoses tend to go in and out of style. Doctors are human just like everybody else. I know for a while there, they were diagnosing ADHD and autism all over the place, and then there was a course correction where it became very difficult to get a diagnosis. You even see it a bit in the story with Dr. Reilly's hesitation to get Brett officially diagnosed with ADHD, and of course, with Billy's parents not wanting to even tell him about it. Billy just thought he was a socially awkward dork, and since no one was willing to teach him about his deeper issues, he floundered rather than learn the skills he needed to cope.
  5. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    At certain times while I was writing the story, readers would ask me if there was something 'wrong' with Billy. What's the deal with why Billy acts so weird sometimes? In the story, I held a key piece of info about Billy back until almost the very end - Billy has autism. A mild case, sure, but enough to add to his issues. I never revealed this, even in comments or on this board until near the very end of the story. It's not that I wanted it to be a surprise. I hoped it was kind of obvious, really. But I didn't want it to be an excuse for Billy's sometimes eccentric behavior. Nor did I see it as something 'wrong' with Billy. It's just part of who he is. It makes his life more difficult, but it's not something for Billy to be ashamed of. In my emails with readers, I was able to be more candid, especially if someone asked me directly. Sometimes people recognized the signs in their own lives and wanted to know if they'd found a kindred spirit in Billy Roberts. I wanted to share with you part of an email I sent to a reader from December 30, 2016 which might shed some light on my thinking. This was written after the chapter "Going Down Swinging" which featured Billy getting slapped by his dad after Billy keeps digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The reader asked me if Billy might be having his issues due to autism, because he saw a lot of himself in Billy. Here is a portion of my response: "Yes, Billy is autistic. Like barely on the spectrum, but definitely on it. There are plenty of signs: He's highly intelligent yet socially awkward. Compulsive behavior (counting, finding four-leaf clovers). Difficulty understanding others’ feelings (Just ask Brett). Gets upset by minor changes (yep). Little to no social skills (yep). Resists physical contact (“Don’t fucking touch me”). Extreme anxiety (Have you met Billy?). Impulsive behavior (Oh yeah). Aggression (Rawr! I’m so angry!). Causing self-injury (Ow! My hand!). Meltdowns (Nuclear). Unusual sleeping habits (“I lay there half the night…”). Even bedwetting (“my secret shame!”). It's not something I plan to make a big deal out of, but you're right, he's a little bit autistic. So, Billy can seem like he's not a good friend because he doesn’t get Dustin. He thinks Dustin's life sucks so he should just change it. It’s obvious to Billy. Billy has to think things through. If he is pressured or rushed, he gets frustrated and reacts with anger. It’s why he’s thrown for such a loop so often in the story because everything comes at him too fast and he doesn’t have time to rationalize it out. Billy has difficulty with emotions because emotions aren’t rational. People should just do things because that’s the way they should be done. It’s simple to him. He does want to be a good friend. He wants to be a good boyfriend. But he’s not sure how to put the pieces together to make that happen. He will eventually, but it takes time for him to process." Because of the timing of when I introduced autism (or Aspergers or whatever) into the story, just five chapters from the end, it might have felt like I was just throwing one more challenge at Billy, or that I was trying to shoehorn in one last swerve at you. That wasn't my intention and I hope it didn't come off that way. I wrote Billy with this in mind from the beginning, but I didn't want 'the autistic narrator' to be a gimmick. Introducing it when I did was meant to open Billy's eyes to see not just himself in a new light, but others as well. In the very next chapter he invites Mary, someone he had never really seen before, to the prom. So, a little bit of plot device? Sure. But it was something that was there all along. It was my hope that people were not blindsided by the discovery, but that it opened the eyes of the reader to a deeper understanding of who Billy was and why some things were just so frustrating about him. He really was trying to be a good guy, but it was hard for him to find the right way.
  6. jkwsquirrel

    The Other Grandson

    True story for a lot of people unfortunately!
  7. jkwsquirrel

    Boy Pretty

  8. jkwsquirrel

    With or Without You

    It's the joy of writing from a thirteen year old's perspective. Glad you're enjoying the story!
  9. jkwsquirrel

    A Late Night Conversation

    Thanks again! I appreciate it!
  10. jkwsquirrel

    Black Summer - A Day at the Park

    Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the first chapter. I might have had some similar experiences to Billy's athletic adventures myself!
  11. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Like a bad rash, I'm back again with thoughts on WAR Part Four - Rehabilitation. So in this one, I had a few objectives. I had to clean up the damage done at the end of Broken Boy. I had to expose Brett's faults to Billy, since Billy had been in love with his image of who Brett was rather than with the real Brett Reilly. I wanted to have the three boys reach a new level of maturity by the end. 1. Billy. What a journey for young Mr. Roberts. It started with Billy wounded and barely able to do anything, even dress himself, and his recovery parallels his growing maturity. By the end, his injury is almost an afterthought. I wanted to progressively allow him to function more and more independently. Of course, he makes some boneheaded decisions along the way, but they are his decisions, and not someone else telling him what to think or what to do. 2. Brett. Rehabilitation was more Brett's story than Billy's. It is Brett at his most devious, selfish, and vicious, especially in his treatment of Dustin. In the beginning, he sees Billy's staying with him as a grand adventure and party, barely even thinking that Billy is only there because his life has gone to hell. By the end of Billy's stay, Brett has destroyed Billy's illusion of who Brett is. Brett's fight with Dustin revealed to Billy the depths to which Brett was willing to sink just to hurt Dustin. Brett's turn from mischievous to malicious finally led his mother to action, because it had become obvious that Brett needed real help and not phony platitudes. And the song... Oh the song! But what really turned the tide for Brett was the fight with Billy when Billy accused him of stealing his pain medication and calling him a selfish little monster. If even Billy was sick of his attitude, Brett realized he had to change. His mother could say it all she wanted, but Billy saying it was what opened his eyes. Brett had some "My God what have I done?" moments that really deepened his character. He changed from being proud of his bad reputation to saying, after his fight with Dustin, "I don't want to be a bad kid anymore." 3. Dustin. While Brett and Billy move toward more maturity, Dustin's life heads further into the depths toward the inevitable crash in Rehabilitation. The scary part of Dustin's story is that he begins to display the abusive behaviors that he has been the victim of toward Billy, literally kicking Billy when he's down. Dustin is no longer able to absorb the abuse and begins to express his rage through violence and self-harm. The dye job he did on his hair is a big indication that Dustin is attempting to kill off the innocent boy he was as he sinks further into hopelessness and selling himself. What he thinks he is doing is exerting his independence, but instead he is further enslaving himself. 4. Moms. With George out of the picture, there is more focus on Billy's relationship with his mother. Rehabilitation also opens the door to the dysfunctional relationship between Brett and his mom. Paula's religion will come more to the forefront in the next story, but here we see the groundwork being laid. Pastor Carl is there for her in her most desperate hour, when no one else seems to understand. It will lead to her almost fanatical devotion to Carl in the future, but it starts here. We also see the difficulty Billy has relating to Paula in the scene where he wets the bed and Paula helps him clean up without a hint of judgment. Paula does everything right in that scene, but Billy is so frustrated and angry that he doesn't understand his mom is reaching out to him. And then there is the Reilly family. Here we begin to see behind the façade of the brilliant Dr. Reilly. So many readers asked, "If she's such a good doctor, why couldn't she see that Brett needed serious help?" But after reading the rest of WAR we begin to see the reason - she didn't want Brett to embarrass her. What harm would it do to her career if people found out that the great, best-selling author, and brilliant psychiatrist couldn't handle the challenges of her own kid? Brett called her out on this during one of his rants, but because Brett was being such a jerk in that period that we might miss that he's got a point. It's only when he begins to embarrass her in front of Billy and Paula and out in public that she takes action. 5. The love triangle. All the combustible elements of the BBD triangle explode at Brett's house. This is round two of the Brett vs. Dustin war. Neither boy really wins any of these battles, they just do a lot of damage to each other. The first round saw Brett give Dustin a bloody nose. This round sees Brett unleash a verbal beat down that goes way too far, disgusting Billy and causing Brett to regret it later. Brett will forever be haunted by "I'm glad your parents smack you around." Even he can't believe how low he sank to hurt Dustin. For his part, Dustin will be haunted by what he did to Billy in the aftermath. Kicking Billy's broken hand was a shocking moment of violence, one that Dustin came to regret deeply. It might have been easier for everybody to go their separate ways after such carnage, but life has a way of working things out. I needed to show just how much Brett and Dustin hated each other, with the end result being the surprise that it is Brett who finally tells Dustin's mom what's going on with Dustin and the park, and the retaliation that follows. (But that's another story!) 6. Those scenes. What scenes am I talking about? I think you know... Sure enough, the boys consummate their relationship physically in this one. It's tempting to make love scenes epic, but I wanted the first time to be awkward, messy, and quick. The boys fumble around, trying to get things to line up and work properly, spending more time trying to tell each other what they want than actually doing it, and it's all over in about three minutes. The glamour of teenage love! And of course, it only further complicates their already messy relationship. I think it really captured the moment well and added to the realism of the story. Oh... And I loved that Emily took notice that the boys pretty much disappeared for the whole month of July and knew exactly what they were doing, even subtly teasing Billy about it. (Of course Billy doesn't process subtlety very well and totally missed that she knew.) I also got a kick out of both of the boys reaching the point where they were both relieved that the other didn't want to do it after getting a month's worth of pent-up energy out of their system. It's hard to pick a favorite of my six WAR stories, but this one is right up there. No character is the same after Rehabilitation. Some characters are better off and have matured, and others are worse off. It ends on a satisfying note, but leaves enough clues that you look forward to what's coming next. Everything works and leads to something, and even a little thing like Billy being given a bottle of pain pills to help his broken hand leads to a plot point later when Billy thinks Brett stole them, when all along it was Paula who simply put them away when she cleaned up after her notoriously sloppy teenage son. I'm very proud of this one. It was fun, fast-paced, and tight. I think Rehabilitation was where WAR found its groove.
  12. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Yeah, Billy had this picture in his head of all drug users which he lumped together regardless of why they were using. Jerry, the kid who almost died in his class, fit the picture to a tee, and Billy thought poorly of him and his choices. Brett did not fit the picture, and Dustin's protestations that Brett was a stoner did not fit into Billy's worldview. Being the Billy we all know and love, he preferred to shoot the messenger rather than admit he was wrong about Brett.
  13. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    How can we miss you if you won't go away? Ha ha! Still lurking in the shadows around here, continuing to read through WAR with a reader's eye instead of an author's eye. So what are my thoughts having completed The Broken Boy? Here you go: 1. This was the beginning of Billy's dickhead stage. Such an abrupt turn from the ending of Cold Winter to the grumpy guy we meet in Broken Boy. Of course, knowing that Billy was also dealing with some autism issues makes his behavior more understandable. There were several times when someone confronted him about his behavior and Billy was simply oblivious to what they were talking about because he didn't get it. 2. Brett's pot usage lurked beneath the surface throughout the story. Billy's obliviousness to this one was a little of him simply not knowing what marijuana smells like (did Brett get a skunk?), a little of him not expecting Brett to do something Billy would never even think about doing, and a lot of Billy simply denying it when the truth became obvious. "I looked around Brett's room for like forty seconds and didn't find anything." 3. The early focus on Dustin's home life was really sad and depressing, but it shed necessary light on his later actions. We had to go there to see what was happening. 4. At some point between Dustin's card game with Billy and Billy discovering Dustin's relationship with Mike, Dustin began his foray into the park at night. Dustin throws some subtle hints that you catch on a second reading that might be missed the first time. He is pleased that Mike won't be around at night in the park and that it'll make things easier for him. 5. Brett vs. Dustin was simmering below the surface throughout, with Billy caught in the middle. The boys fired most of their shots by taking swipes at the other to Billy. They both want the same thing, and Dustin even takes his best shot at getting Billy, but Billy pulls back from the edge at the last possible minute, leaving Dustin unfulfilled and seeking love elsewhere. 6. I really wanted Dustin's first swear word, calling Billy an asshole, to be impactful. After all he's been through, it's Billy's betrayal that finally leads him to curse. His use of foul language will only worsen as his story progresses, a sign of his deterioration along with his lengthening hair. 7. George's story was quite tragic. He wanted so much to not become his father, even disavowing his own first name and going by his middle name. But in the heat of the moment, with his health deteriorating, he became the physically and verbally abusive monster he had tried to tame for years. Did Billy deserve to get slapped after calling his father an asshole? Maybe or maybe not. George was scary in that scene, not just from Billy's perspective, but from Paula's as well. There's a reason George repeatedly warned Billy to watch his temper - he knows how destructive that temper can be. He could have lost his son that night. In that scene we saw a side of George that was very disturbing. I mean sure, a lot of people might have wanted to knock Billy around after the way he acted, but to see his father hit him and terrorize him was one of the most disturbing parts of the story. How the mighty have fallen... 8. It was meant to be a humorous scene, but it really revealed a lot when Billy tried to tutor Brett. Billy begins to understand Brett more deeply as he experiences Brett's struggles to read, and he realizes that he cannot "fix" Brett. That's a big moment for Billy, who comes from a family of fixers. 9. The Broken Boy is a story of deteriorating lives. Dustin's life is crap, Brett is struggling with drug use and a severe learning disability, George's health is failing, Billy's school life sucks as he faces bullying from a former friend, and Paula is helpless as her family is unraveling around her. And yet it's out of that mess that the love between Billy and Brett begins to thrive.
  14. jkwsquirrel

    W.a.r. By Jeff Wilson (Jkwsquirrel)

    Hi, it's been a while. Real life has been busy, busy, busy! Things are going very well. I'm in a much healthier place than I was a few months ago. The family is good. Just a lot of good tings happening all around. So thanks for the support! I needed it! I've been reading WAR for fun lately, which is hard for me because I still want to nit-pick everything. I just finished Cold Winter. Here are my thoughts: 1. Billy doesn't do much in this one as Brett takes center stage. Billy hasn't yet developed his full sarcastic powers and is more optimistic than later books, but you can see the signs that cynicism is creeping into his outlook on life. Billy is still a kid and has some childish moments, like planning to run away after his parents yelled at him. 2. What an epic meltdown for Brett in the first few chapters. Telling off Mrs. Smith was merely a warning shot for the nuclear explosion at the bowling alley. How many of these stories have the love interest punch the main character in the mouth? The larger story of Brett Reilly is of a boy with severe self-doubt who covers it up with a mask of bravado and humor. 3. Paula's momma bear instincts are strong for both boys. 4. Billy learning about his father's past life before he was born helps him to discover that his father wasn't always the man he became. It's hard to picture George as a teenage rebel without a cause, knowing what he became later. His abusive upbringing haunts him. He doesn't want his relationship with his son to be like the one he had with his father. His paternal instinct helps him to be the one who gets Brett to break out of his depression and deal with his mom. 5. Dr. Reilly finally appears toward the end of the book. I wanted her to be an enigma, a mystery. Billy's apprehension as he approaches his encounter, and the tension as the boys prepare to talk to her, were all meant to build up the moment, like meeting the Wizard of Oz. She's meant to astound and impress in that first meeting. So cool and so smart when you first meet her, but time will reveal the illusion, she's one of the most screwed up characters in the whole series. 6. Interesting how the two tales of the past lives of George and Dr. Reilly contrast. George tells the truth, even though it is embarrassing and painful. Jenny lies and manipulates the boys to avoid the embarrassment, conveniently avoiding the little detail that she moved to that particular town to be close to Jack. 7. "They could almost pass for brothers, if you didn't know any better." Oh Billy, you little foreshadower, you! 8. Brett flat out says what he will later deny - He IS jealous of Dustin's relationship with Billy. Brett's competitive nature comes into play throughout the story. He wants to beat Dustin at everything. Of course, it all comes back to get him later when Dustin beats the crap out of him. All the signs that things are going to get nasty in the rivalry between Brett and Dustin are there. 9. The whole story takes place in the span of one week, with most of the action taking place over three days from December 19-21, 2000. So different from the other books in the series. In fact, I'd say overall that Cold Winter is the oddball of the series. It's almost all meant to set up future events in the series. I introduce a bunch of high school characters in the first chapter, but I won't use them until later. The bickering between Brett and Dustin is mostly unseen and in the background. The discussion between Billy and his mom at Billy's birthday meal is there to set up their eventual story. The big moment at the park, the first kiss, is quickly shut down by Billy. He puts everything on hold with Brett almost immediately after the kiss, not willing to commit fully until a later day. Of course, stringing Brett and Dustin along will become Billy's calling card in later episodes. (Joey calls him out on that in the bowling chapter, and then throughout the story.)
  15. jkwsquirrel

    Snow Battle

    How in the world did I miss this comment? Thanks, dude! Glad you enjoyed it!

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