At my last writers' group meeting, the question of writing in the past- or present-tense came up. Present tense? I thought. But since then, while working on my present past tense Work-in- Progress, I've been thinking, Past? Present? What? So imagine my delight when I discovered this evening that Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, my first book for this year's 48-Hour Book Challenge, is written in the present tense! It was a two-fer, a book for the challenge and a training read.
Fish in a Tree is about a sixth-grade girl who is hiding the fact that she can barely read. She diverts attention from herself with humor, sometimes unintentional, and bad behavior, often unintentional. Fish in a Tree is about how a teacher, and Ally herself, come to realize that she is not "dumb," as she feels, but dyslexic, and begin to do something about it. The book is very strong on portraying the emotional impact of serious reading problems.
Ally has her struggles, but so do several of her classmates. Secondary characters, mainly Albert, Oliver, and Keisha, are particularly well developed. Keisha is a power girl, Albert is committed to science, and Oliver is just a wildly enthusiastic kid. Early on, Albert gives one of the most elegant descriptions of the water cycle I can ever recall seeing. And Oliver's light bulb joke at the end of the book is so funny I laughed until I started coughing.
And the present tense worked very well. I'm quite certain I'm going to experiment with that as a result of reading this.
Disclosure: I have known Lynda Mullaly Hunt for many years. I purchased Fish in a Tree at its book launch.