Friday, October 11, 2013

On the Come Up


Debut fiction can be tough. First novels can be so full of a writer’s efforts and emotions that the storyline suffers under the weight of the language or complex plot. Debut novels can also be amazing and beautiful because the story has been bottled up for so long that the writer is able to convey the story without too many words. To all of you reading this, I recommend you do not read a steady diet of debuts. Variety is the spice of reading life, too. Without mixing it up a bit, you stand to miss some amazing books. On the same note, don’t ignore debuts to wait for a writer to “prove themselves.” You’ll be missing out.

A recently released debut novel that reads like a 9th or 10th book of a seasoned author is On the Come Up by Hannah Weyer. Hannah Weyer is an award winning filmmaker, so she is no stranger to the written word. However, this is her first published novel. The story follows the life of AnnMarie Walker—a thirteen-year-old from Far Rockaway, Queens. AnnMarie is wise beyond her years and able to see the hold that the neighborhood (as well as drugs, violence, and government assistance) has on people. She dreams of being able to escape Far Rockaway and leave it behind her. Even with the struggles and violence that AnnMarie faces, she continues to stay strong and persevere. Four months before she’s due to give birth to her first child, AnnMarie attends a casting call for a movie on a whim. She lands the part and her life begins to change. However, after the movie and a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, AnnMarie finds herself back in New York. AnnMarie stays focused on her future, looking beyond just the day-to-day, to make sure her life is her own and will develop into something more.

Weyer based the novel on the true story of Anna Simpson. Weyer met Anna when Anna was filming the movie Our Song just after becoming a new mother at the age of sixteen. Weyer’s boyfriend at the time (now husband), Jim McKay, directed the movie. To this day, Hannah, Jim, and Anna are close. Just like AnnMarie/Anna, I can easily say that Hannah Weyer is on the come up in the world of literature. I can’t wait to read more.

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