Beginnings and Endings (2)

“You’ll never get away with that,” said Nancy R., laughing as I read the end of a draft of Suspended to her.

I have trouble with endings. Not with writing them, but having them approved by editors. My endings tend toward the ambivalent, or the downright bleak, and editors, at least of YA fiction, usually seem to want something at least a little uplifting or optimistic.

Hence Nancy’s response to the last sentence of Suspended (J. Lorimer 2010), the fourth novel in the Brunswick Valley series, knowing how I’d struggled in the past to finish YA stories on an acceptable note. It’s not a bleak or ambivalent ending, but it could be deemed borderline subversive.

Here’s the backstory: Shay, who lives with his grandfather, is in serious trouble at school for leading a revolt against the school’s code of conduct, a revolt in which he and his followers systematically and deliberately broke every rule in the code. Knowing retribution is coming, he confesses all to his grandfather. Shay is the narrator.

     “Come round here where I can see you,” said Grandad.
      I stood in front of him.
      “So – because you thought those rules were an infringement of personal expression, and were unfair to struggling students, and stopped you having a little fun, you took it upon yourself to deliberately break them, and you led your friends to do the same.”
      I hung my head. “Yes.”
      “And although you knew right from the start that your protest was going to land your friends, as well as yourself, in serious trouble … you still led a kind of doomed rebellion.”
      “Yes,” I whispered.
      He stood slowly and put his hands on my shoulders.
      “That’s good,” he said. “I’m proud of you.”


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