Note: the title of this novel has changed from Finding Hope to The Road to Hope.
Hi all! I recently finished writing and self-editing a literary fiction book called “The Road to Hope,” a story about two mothers who suffer two very different tragedies, and whose lives change completely from the moment their paths cross. The book tells the story of Jill, a 35-year-old woman whose toddler son is involved in a freak accident, and Maddie, a 16-year-old girl whose parents kick her out after she tells them she’s pregnant.
I am looking for a few beta readers to read this book and give me an honest critique on what works, and what needs more work. People who would be interested in this would likely be female, enjoy reading human interest stories, and may even be mothers themselves. But men and non-mothers may like this, too. If you accept this beta reader challenge, I am trusting you are a fast reader (I’m hoping to have your story comments in a week so I can make changes then send it off to my editor), and can be trusted with not sharing this soon-to-be published novel.
Note: beta readers have already been chosen. But if you’d like to be put on a list for future readings, please contact me and let me know why you’d be a good fit. 🙂
Here’s a small excerpt from chapter 1. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com with your email address and what kind of eReader file you would prefer (PDF, ePub/Nook or Mobi/Kindle).
Thank you in advance!
The Road to Hope, Chapter 1
The Point of Impact
There was no stopping it. In one moment, Toby had been standing in the front of the shopping cart, grinning up at his mom. In the next, the cart tipped forward against his weight, sending him toward the checkered linoleum in the middle of Hal’s Market. The look of terror on her toddler’s face was etched in Jill’s mind as she saw him tumble from the cart, falling just far enough away that she knew she’d never reach him in time. But in the eternity that lay in those few seconds, she made a valiant effort, throwing her arms forward to catch nothing but air.
Toby’s head hit the slick floor first, the rest of his body crumpling down into his neck, then careening over his body like a rag doll. Jill would never forget the look in his eyes. Tearless, they reached into her, grabbing at her guilt with a firm hold while raking over her worst fears. Then they lost all recognition. Jill took in a quick breath, her heart racing as she rushed to where he lay on the ground.
“Toby,” she breathed. She wanted to reach forward and grab him, but she was afraid that any movement might break him. His olive eyes were fixed on the ceiling, the blank expression frozen on his face. But then his body relaxed into a deep and shuddering breath, followed by a scream of pain and terror. His cries were a sweet sound to Jill’s ear. She scooped her son up and held him tight against her chest.
Jill avoided the stares from the small crowd forming around her and Toby. She could feel the weight of their judgment being placed on her head, their unspoken thoughts screaming at her. How could she? What kind of mother lets that happen? She doesn’t deserve a child. Jill held her sobbing son to her chest, rocking him next to the green beans and zucchini while trying to pretend the crowd around her didn’t exist. The two of them sat until his reckless screams subsided into hiccuped breathing. Then Toby lay his curly blonde head against her blue sweater, playing with a lock of her chestnut hair as he breathed into her chest. Jill couldn’t help but see the irony in this—her injured toddler finding safety in the very person who had let him fall.