Reviews for A Plain Summer
Denizen47 chapter 1 . 4/21/2009

So, an interesting, if long, start. And I think the length counted against you hear - though the storytelling and majority of the grammar was solid readers want to be able to get the gist of the story fairly quickly to decide if they want to continue reading. You could quite easily split this into 3 chapters of fairly good length which would probably help draw in new readers each time you update.

I only found one niggle:

[I don’t believe you are telling me the whole truth.

Can we just get back to work?

Fine, fine…]

Though the exchange on the most part was solid, this ending was a bit superfluous and didn't really feel real - would he right in such stilted and somewhat formal language? Would he have responded with "Fine, fine..." ? That kind of thing.

Overall though it sets up an interesting story, a clever premise and gives the character depth with an already fairly felshed out backstory. Well done. :)
Ashlys chapter 12 . 4/21/2009
I've been missing your updates...but nevertheless a well done chapter:D I want some of that pie!
Twist Their Emotions chapter 12 . 4/19/2009
Wow, nice cliffhanger. Hopefully you'll be back sooner to end it! Good chapter though, despite it being a while.
Mazkeraide chapter 2 . 4/16/2009
I thought this was a very realistic portrayal of college life. The attention to detail really led one to believe you've been there, or that you are there.

On the other hand, the details sometimes got out of hand. Was there any need to specify what she ate for dinner, or that her professor had a crush on her? It seemed out of place and disrupted the flow of the story.

Menginpeh chapter 1 . 4/16/2009
Wow - that's like three of my chapters! Very interesting, good descriptions. Few things that caught my attention - is Rehab the name of a specific rehabilitation facility? If it is you might want to add something to clarify that or it looks like you accidentally capitalized something that should be lowercase. When Jeff says "You could have kept going to church with Whit and I." it should be "...Whit and me." Whitney's dream of remembrance was really sad. It sounded like then her Dad still cared for her Mom, but it seems like Whitney thinks very negatively against her father now so I wonder what happened and I wonder if the future holds any hope for them.

You've got to love professors that have a reputation for being extremely strict, but actually excuse those that deserve it.

Yay for psychic friends!

I'm sure that she's upset about the grant rejection, but I have a feeling God is going to work out something even better.
Kate Marshall chapter 11 . 4/15/2009
I love your characters the best. I haven't read your story and just from one chapter, I got a great feel for everyone's personality. So that's great that you can portray your characters so well and so thoroughly.

The relationships between the family were expressed nicely, too. I have three siblings and everything seemed very believable. Not forced at all.

And I couldn't find anything wrong with your writing, either. I was really impressed with your descriptions and how you wrote. No mistakes. Very good. ;D The only thing I'd change is that you had a few trite phrases in there, not super modern and sometimes it felt weird when I read it.

Good luck with your story! :D

-Peach, EF RG review
ByYourSide chapter 3 . 3/16/2009
I'm back to this wonderful story. ;)

I've never read anything like tis before. Maybe there are other stories out there about "Englishers" dipping into Amish society, but I've never found any, so it intrigues me. I can't wait until the love interest comes into the story, and I hope Nathaniel's heart opens up a bit. Or, a lot.

Ishmael seems to be a rather happy person. I like him. :]

Whitney is almost funny in that she approaches everything from a businessy, scholarly standpoint. Shaking everyone's hands, constantly worrying about her notes, using pleasantries to break awkward silences. She's a tiny bit high strung, so I hope she grows to have more fun!

Love the chapter, as always. _ God bless!
it's not your fault chapter 1 . 3/14/2009
whoops - i forgot to sign in a while back for the review game so you received an anonymous one. here it is again, so you can go ahead and delete the earlier copy: you have great imagery in this - and the way you portrayed the "problems" whitney's parents had really seemed realistic and not forced out or thrown in from pure imagination. it seems as if you know what you're writing about, whether it be from research or personal experience.

and the way you kept with the general feel towards the end - especially where whitney said "that's out of the question" really finished off the chapter well. there aren't any errors that i found in the text, though i could have just read over them. this is a great read! i'll be reading on.
The Ferrett chapter 11 . 3/11/2009
Amazingly done ol' chap. Have to say that the language was superb, you've found a voice that makes this piece sparkle - even in the 'Oh poor Jake' section.

I also found the memories to be classily done. Instead of him vaguely remarking on the final part, the seperation and such, you have snippets into how the villiage thinks and that makes it alot more 'oh no' on this side of the screen.

I love the beginning though, like one of those brown tinged old movies, you can feel the glow of the candles and hear Jake doing his chores. I enjoyed this because, well it helped immerse me as I came in at this point, and I'm sure it will do the same to a person who reads from the start.

All in all I found it classily done and I wish you luck.
SuzannaR chapter 5 . 3/9/2009
Good chapter, I like all your little details, it really makes the story more realistic for the reader.

Bethany is going to be a problem I see, though she doesn't seem mean or spiteful.

"I’m glad that they’re taking me in and everything it’s just that". - you're missing a stop or a comma after everything no?

Also you described her hair falling down in sheets when she tried to putt the capp on...I know what you mean I think, like some strands here, some there no? I don't know, sheets struck me as strange as soon as I read it.

Good job :)
Samuel Harrisson chapter 1 . 3/8/2009
You did a great job with the first chapter. It is very strong and it kept the reader engaged. There were no grammar or spelling mistakes and your imagery was quite vivid. Great job! Keep up the good work!

Josephine Sawyer chapter 3 . 3/4/2009
Review Game!

I like the airport and airplane scene. Casting Whitney, at least in these small situations, as somewhat alienated by modern society reminds the reader, a little bit, that many of the trappings of modernity aren't positive; they serve to complicate life and get in the way of goodness. On the other hand, as I'm sure we'll discover later, the Amish don't reject technology because they don't like airport security, but for more meaningful and philosophical reasons. So I think these scenes are really well done and well chosen.

I also like how Whitney goes about trying to approach the Amish community at first - which is to say, she dresses nicely and modestly (but modernly - on a side note, I like the choice of black slacks and a red blouse, if only because while modest and professional appearing in the modern world I can see those being anathema in the Amish community). I wonder if it would have been better to be driven there, or to again ask the Mennonite relatives for assistance and advice. I really like the fact that the Koenigs are the most welcoming and friendly people she has met.

To be honest, I couldn't quite pick out the point at which Whitney "spoke out of turn" until I went through the scene very carefully. I'm guessing you mean the part where she introduces herself to Nathaniel after he asked the Minister if she was "the Englisher". It was an ambiguous situation, and while I think it's good that a modern audience doesn't pick up exactly when she did something that went against their morals, it made me puzzled at the end of the chapter (just a quick "wait, what?" reaction). Of course, it hurt that Nathaniel was taking to her none too kindly even before she "spoke out of turn", so... I don't know what I would suggest doing with that bit of the scene. Perhaps you could make him seem a little bit friendlier before her misstep, or do something else to draw a little attention to the error afterwards - so that readers like me could recognise "Oh, she did something wrong there," and figure it out before we got to the end of the chapter.

One other thing I puzzled over was your (Whitney's) assertion that, since she was an atheist, her views wouldn't be biased. As much as I would love for an argument like that to hold water, I don't think it does. When it comes to faith, everything is a viewpoint, and everything is biased. I think that every person on the planet has a bias when it comes to religion, and the way to convince someone you will take them seriously and respect their faith is to acknowledge that you have a bias, and say what you'll do - or have done - to account for it. So having Whitney say something like "Yes, I know that can be a problem. In part that's why I want to do this immersive experience - by getting to know you as people, and not stereotypes, I can start to remove that bias. And I have taken all of these anthropology classes which stress neutrality and how to recognize your own biases, which makes me able to start in a less biased place than others who are untrained," I think would convince more people.

I have a quick question that you can choose to answer or not: how much research did you do on Amish communities before writing this? I know all of nothing about the Amish, and so for all I know you could be lying to me through your teeth and I couldn't tell the difference. But you give quite a few specifics, even in this chapter, and you give quite a few misconceptions (to be honest, I hadn't even heard the misconception that they always wore black - I had heard modest (dark) colors, but that's beside the point).
Josephine Sawyer chapter 2 . 3/4/2009
Review game!

Whitney's conversation with her father seemed rather strange; whereas in the dream he was constantly talking about God and Church, now he just seems rather distant. The character is the same lazy worker (first to be laid off, yet again) that I think we saw earlier, but I can't be certain. And it seems likely that the distance is due to religion, so him not talking about God makes some sense in regards to that. At the same time, he was fairly accusatory towards Eileen, and is entirely positive towards Whitney. Of course, this could be because he can't blame Whitney (who is supporting herself) for his current predicament, but at the same time the conversation clashed in certain ways with the memories from the dream. Even a little bit of exposition from Whitney's point of view would let the reader in on why her relations with her father were so strained, and had changed over time, and would smooth that transition.

To be honest, I think you should clarify Whitney's faith - or lack thereof - a little bit. All you say about it is that she isn't religious, hasn't been for several years, and "has no religious faith". There are many varieties of people who lack any specific faith. Is she atheist - does she believe that there is no God? Or agnostic - there might be a God, and there might not, but there is no way of knowing for certain? Or perhaps something more spiritual - there is a higher power, but not a God as such? Or a humanist - God is created by the love and camaraderie in society? None of these things can truly be classified as "religious faith" per se, but they are all very different beliefs and they will impact her character. As I understand her, I think she's somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic - my sense is that she doesn't believe in God, but that she's basically uncertain. But I could be completely wrong; I could be projecting onto the main character. Clarifying her beliefs somewhat might help understand her distance from her father as well as making her stance towards other religions more logical.

I'm somewhat surprised a college-level religious anthropology class left out Mennonites, Amish, etc. But having never taken one, I can't say for certain whether or not it's accurate. From the few Anthropology classes I did take, my sense was that groups like the Amish - which exist in small isolated societies within our own - are sort of gold mines for anthropology, and therefore covered more frequently. But again, I could very well be wrong.

What surprised me more was how short a time it took Whitney to write a thesis proposal about a subject she had not even seen before in class. Thesis proposals require enough background and research to prove to the reader that 1) you know what you are doing and 2) you are likely to succeed. Just a few google searches is almost certainly not enough. Perhaps postponing the sending it to her professor and at least mentioning going to the library would be a good idea - because writing a proposal in three days is by no means a small undertaking.

I couldn't understand the motivation of the discussion of the rumors surrounding Whitney and Dr. Morrison. Is it meant to show that she is different from other students and therefore a bit of an outcast? Or that her relations with Dr. Morrison are somehow legitimately suspect? It seemed strange and out of place to me.
Josephine Sawyer chapter 1 . 3/4/2009
Review Game!

Interesting beginning. A few awkward phrasings and/or spelling and grammar mistakes - things like "...the masses, many of whom..." which might be better as "As always, getting through the crowd was difficult; no one was in the mood to be bothered by a stranger." (As written, 'whom' and 'between' refer to the singular noun mass, rather than individuals, which isn't to say that people don't understand what you mean, just that it makes it smoother to remove the ambiguity.) In general, things like that would help your writing, I think. Just little wording changes to make it smoother.

The dream sequence was a little bit strange for me. First that he father seems a complete layabout; he always says he's trying but as far as we can tell at this early a stage all he seems to do is, well, talk. I don't think you're trying to make him a sympathetic character, but he comes off a bit strong - it makes me wonder why her mother married him in the first place. Was he always like this? Did he drive her to drink? Did he change? Did she think she could change him? At the end of the dream sequence, I found myself wondering what caused the Bang, which since it woke Whitney up (or seemed to), I assumed to come from the real world. Even something like someone slamming a car door or blowing a tire outside (she's in NYC, these things happen all the time) would show why she woke up specifically when she did - if she always wakes up at that particular moment in the dream, remark upon that as well.

In general, I like your characterization of Whitney and Dr. Morrison. Whitney seems like an interesting character; the strained relationship with her father and her absent mother plus her constant state of worry and over-analysis match somewhat, and her thirst to prove herself better than even some graduate students makes sense as well. I don't know how I feel about the friends - they seem more caricatures or stereotypes than anything else - but that doesn't say much because it's chapter one. Dr. Morrison, in turn, is warm enough to be a mentor and professional enough to be a teacher. Some of his words don't make sense with his age, though: "You best be..." seemed out of place, something like "You should be..." would fit better in my opinion.

In general, you have a good start to the story - my sense is that of these characters, Whitney is the only real main character. And I don't think the main plot has started yet. But even so your characterization is good enough and your style is strong enough that I'm eager to read more.
B. J. Winters chapter 11 . 3/4/2009
I'm giving a late chapter review, so excuse if I've made a poor assumption that Jake was introduced before. I did scan back through Chapters 9 and 10 and didn't see him - but the point I wanted to make was that there were a lot of physical details offered on this character and this is Chapter 11. The color of his hair and his age should probably be known to the reader by now.

And if they are not...then I would suggest that you find another way to hint at these things than blatently stating.

Example: The fourteen-year-old cocked and ear and listened. (first off you have a typo (and/an), but is it really necessary to know his age so specifically. Couldn't you say "teen" or better yet, describe him more by actions or the way that he interacts/speaks. I found the number and the other little details distracting and more like data dumping rather than value added.

The ending of this chapter was strong. I liked how you hinted that hard times were ahead, while still leaving a nice closing sentence that implies the next chapter is worth flipping to, but won't just pick up where you left off.

The brother/sister relationship is well done. I sense a bond and history here in the way they speak and act. It makes your characters credible. Nice job.
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