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PW #301: Young Adult Contemporary: WORDS LIKE BITTERSWEET

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Carlie Sorosiak

Mentee Name: Erin Cotter


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 79,000 words


Albert believes two things: Tolkien was the greatest writer ever, and Rosa Iverson is the girl for him. But romance is the last thing on Rosa’s mind. She’s pretty preoccupied with saving her gran’s bakery—one of the last African American businesses in the area. To succeed, she’ll have to win a prestigious culinary competition . . . and avoid falling for the shy, anxious boy who might be stealing her heart. ELEANOR & PARK meets WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI.


I’m 99 percent sure I’ve got a Beowulf fetish. Otherwise I would’ve noticed Rosa Iverson years ago.

During the last day of our summer SAT prep class, I caught her reading Beowulf inside her workbook. But she wasn’t just reading it—she was tearing through the pages, sucking in her breath softly, not even pretending to pay attention to class.

She was really into it.

And then I was a little into her.

“Is that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Beowulf translation?” I whispered nonchalantly, like a tide of excitement wasn’t sweeping through me.

She peered over the top of her purple cat-eye glasses. Her dark curls supernova-ed from her head in the sticky summer air. “No. Seamus Heaney’s translation’s on our reading list.”

“Tolkien’s is truer to the original Old English,” I said.

“Then maybe I should read them both.”

“I could loan you the Tolkien.”

She smiled. “That’d be great.”

Days passed.

And now it’s after school and Beowulf’s been in my bag all day and I’m sweating on my bike at the intersection of East Twelfth and Chicon. The number 18 bus already dropped Rosa off with a gusty wheeze and she’s at the end of the block getting further and further away from me.

But I can’t move.


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