I entered Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story in the prestigious Writer’s Digest Book awards. Boldly. Contests can be intimidating, but this one promised a review for the entry fee, so taking a deep breath, I submitted. Below, in its entirety, is the judge’s commentary. I admit I disagreed with 2 points. Read on and I will summarize those points after.
Below is a brief commentary for your entry in the 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, thank you for your participation!
“Judge, 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” Judge’s Commentary:
This memoir is bound to resonate with other army brats, but those readers who have not had this experience growing up may find the memoir all the more exotic and interesting for showing the kind of challenges the author and her family (and all in that situation) encountered. Author Michele Sabad demonstrates glaringly that what army brats understand to be normal is quite bizarre for the average student in the free world. It is not just a question of school buses being driven by privates or corporals in uniform or the hazings that took place in military high schools, but that military personnel can get “punishment postings” as Sabad’s father did when the family had a house on a runway in Goosebay and could be woken up by the sounds of B-52 bombers taking off or landing during Cold War practice alerts. These are the elements that demonstrate just how different such a child’s experience could be; on the plus side, as Sabad both affirms and demonstrates, army brats grew up quickly, showing resilience and maturity at no doubt younger ages than children on the outside. The print of this book is nice and large, which will be welcome for older readers. I wish the author had not shifted in perspective between third and first person in telling her own story. The line drawing illustrations, while quaint, seem too immature for the interesting content that the author offers.
Now, my 2 points :
- I deliberately chose the multiple viewpoints in the various stories in the book, as some stories felt more real when told a certain way. I was warned (editor, early readers) that this might not be popular with everyone, and of course they were correct. I will say that I have had positive feedback for this very thing: “refreshing”, “interesting”, “unique”. So, hey, I will own this one!
- I love the illustrations! Again, eye of the beholder.
I would recommend submitting to contests, and I especially recommend contests that provide detailed feedback. On to the next project!