A writer’s review.
The beginning and the ending of a novel are the two most important aspects to get right. The stuff in the middle is noteworthy, too, but the beginning will draw readers in and keep them reading. The perfect ending will have readers Googling your name to find more books.
Where We Belong hit the nail on the head with both aspects.
There are many writing articles about the best and worst ways to open a novel—dialogue, action, back story, internalization, description, etc. Griffin did a great job of drawing me in. The “I have a secret” piqued my interest and kept me reading (well, listening in this case). I was curious enough to not turn off my iPod when she dove into the dreadful back story of Marian and Peter. Was this information important to the story? Hmm, probably. But did I want, or need, it all in one big session. No. It was the only the mystery of the secret that kept me going.
I haven’t read many articles on how to end your novel. I haven’t really needed to. When I mold my characters into living, breathing beings that only I and my readers see, I instinctively know when to end their story. As a romance writer, it typically ends with the never-ever-typed phrase “…and they lived happily ever after.” There is no HEA in Where We Belong. At least not one that I consider to be happy. The potential is there, but wasn’t stated.
But this ending did what it was supposed to do. It drove me to the internet so I could find out if there’s a sequel, to which I didn’t find much on the subject. It made the characters stick with me for a long time after my iPod was turned off and plugged into its charger.
A writer has no novel without a beginning or an ending. Some parts of writing can be taught, other parts are instinctual. I feel starting a novel in the right place and then ending it in the same are more of the latter. Giffin definitely has a writer’s instinct.