Author: Tonya Fitzharris
Released: 1st September 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first saw this, and read what it was about, I was intrigued. A girl who steps off a bridge and has six seconds before she crashes into the sea - six seconds to reflect on her life, to think about her relationship with her parents, with her boyfriend, to think about the utter mess that her life had become. I was so curious to see how the author could manage to write a story that covered the span of six seconds and if it would work.
Let me tell you, Tonya Fitzharris rocked it.
I loved the way it was set out. A little bit of time was spent at the beginning just setting the scene; it didn't just randomly jump to the suicide. Maura's state of mind was presented clearly. There was this wonderful alternation between past and present, yet not overly so. Even within memories, other past moments intersected - and the beauty of it was that it all made perfect sense. Snippets of Maura's life were expertly crafted into dialogue and letters, and the overall effect of it was to give this brilliantly complete image of her life and how time was passing.
Reading from Maura's perspective was...intense. It was so easy to feel like what it was to be in her head. She is an incredibly tense character. At the same time it's obvious she's broken, and the stem of it all is her parents. So many times I wanted to snap at them to just get it together. Her father needed to move on with his life and actually be there rather than just lecture at her and dictate terms; her mother needed to get out of this ridiculous Victorian notion of a woman, live in the real world, grow a backbone and also stick with it when she wanted to have a real conversation with her daughter rather than abandon her when it got too tough. With all the strains and secrets of their marriage it's no wonder their already sensitive daughter was coming apart at the seams.
I was completely swept up in the downward spiral that was Maura's life. I felt for her and was frustrated with her at the same time. She wasn't exactly helping herself, and I wanted her to try and regain some control of her life. But clearly she didn't know how to do that and the people around her weren't helping. Normally I would have been utterly annoyed at how she was losing herself yet Fitzharris made me want to reach out to her instead. I was especially glad to see her challenge her mother at the end and try and force her out of that bubble she lived in almost perpetually.
Owen also led to a softening of my heart. It was quite weird, because in a way he did help in making Maura's life worsee by repeatedly behaving in a way that was totally unnecessary and he encouraged her to be more like him. At the same time he took the time to actually get to know Maura and despite everything else he was actually serious about her. It was sad to see what happened between them and sort of strange to be able to identify with both of their sides. They reminded me of Abby and Travis in Beautiful Disaster.
The ending I think I saw coming. It was kind of the opposite of what I wanted, but I'm just that way and it was still wrapped up neatly. It put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a wonderful, emotional read. 6 Seconds of Life is about a girl who struggles to cope with events in her life and who suffers and is tormented to the point that she can't bear it any longer; it's about a girl whose exhaustion is so palpable it's as if you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. I'd definitely recommend that you read it as soon as you can if it sounds like your thing.
I know that we all like to pretend we don’t base our opinions on looks—but come on. We all know deep down that looks are incredibly important—ESPECIALLY for books. The cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover” couldn’t be more wrong. As humans, we are drawn to things that are visually appealing—it’s our natural instinct. Therefore, if we have a choice between five books, without knowing a single thing about the author nor the subject matter—what’s the first thing we’re going to be drawn to? Images (with titles right behind, of course). A strong, beautiful image can make or break a book. A strong image can make people think, can make people curious, and make people want to know more.
Your book NEEDS a strong image if you’re going to be successful.
If you’re aiming at or in the process of being traditionally published, make sure to have your voice heard as much as possible when it comes to making that fateful decision. That is, if you have that opportunity. I’ve read several stories of Big 6 authors who had zero say over what the editors picked and absolutely hated the final product. To me, that’s got to be painful—seeing, quite often, your life’s work presented to the world in a distasteful package. But let’s hope you do get a voice. Be sure to share your opinions to anyone and everyone who’s willing to listen—don’t chance it by leaving it totally up to them.
If you’re going to publish yourself, you get all the control. And honestly, that’s one of my favorite things about being an indie author. I love art and I love the opportunity to connect a piece of art to my own story. So when you set out to get your own cover, have a rough idea of an image in mind. Find a fantastic graphic artist who can help you bring that image to life (I know that self-publishing can get expensive, but this is not the time to count pennies. Spend as much money as you can to get the greatest artist you can. It is worth every cent). Make sure it’s what you want—it’s your own hard-earned money out of your own pocket, so don’t be afraid to speak of if changes need to be made. If you’re stuck for an image idea, think of a pivotal moment in your character’s journey that could be depicted on the cover. Or maybe even a special symbol or location. Just be sure it’s something that matters. There are far too many headless girls or girls in random pretty dresses donning the covers of the YA world these days. Do something that stands out. Do something provocative. Do something that makes people have to read your book.
Whatever you do, don’t hold back your creative intuition.
Your story is worth all of it.