The sequel to Jacquelyn Mitchard's first bestselling novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, came out yesterday...and I don't have it yet. Of course, I wasted no time in ordering No Time to Wave Goodbye, but I ordered it through Amazon--not because I didn't want to or have time to run out and pick it up at Borders, but because it doesn't take all that many sales in a short period of time to make the various Amazon lists that boost publicity and, in turn, more sales. Now that it's in transit, though, I'm having a hard time getting interested in reading anything else.
If you've been here before, you know that I am a constant admirer of Mitchard's writing. I love her style and, above all, I love the truths that are dropped into her writing like surprise chips of chocolate in a creamy vanilla ice cream. As I've mentioned before, her novels always make me nod. "Yes, that's true...that's exactly right." Even though, of course, I might never have consciously entertained that thought before.
So I haven't even had the opportunity to start No Time to Wave Goodbye, and I can't comment intelligently on it. But the book's release does have me thinking about character development. It's been thirteen years since The Deep End of the Ocean made its splash, and we've all lived a lot of life in the interim. My daughter was an infant when I read it, and now she's teetering dangerously close to high school. We've all lived, laughed, cried: some of us have married and divorced (or divorced and married), some of us have had children, graduated from college, watched parents die, moved across the country. We are, most of us, in some way different people than we were in 1996. And yet, we care what became of this fictional family.
That's what we have to do, as writers, isn't it? Create stories and people so rich and deep that we forget that nothing actually happened to those characters after the book ended and feel as if they're somehow out there continuing to live their lives and their struggles?