Brooks Benjamin's My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights became a real book that you can buy in a real bookstore (which you should totally do).
In 2013, M7GLiT (as Brooks affectionately named it) was a wee draft manuscript. I was lucky enough to be one of his critique partners. At the time, I summarized M7GLiT on Goodreads like this:
12-year old Dillon has the chance to compete for a summer dance scholarship and must decide what's more important: sticking with his crew or freestyling his way into solo greatness.
I had the pleasure of reading an early draft of this book and can't wait to put it on my bookshelf. Equal parts funny, cringe-worthy, and heartfelt, you'll want to get up and dance* when you finish this book.
*actual dancing talent not required
Now that M7GLiT is out in the world, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the critique notes I gave to Brooks so you can get a backstage view of how this fantastic book came to be. Here are screenshots of my actual comments with some helpful tips on being a good critique partner.
Tip 1: Highlight the first moment that the story grabs you.
Ok. So I didn't even get to the first paragraph before M7GLiT made me startle my dogs. That was a good sign.
Tip 2: Focus on the main character's journey.
Make sure that the main character faces tough obstacles. In M7GLiT, it's middle school plus football plus dancing. Honestly, that's more than enough.
Tip 3: Be honest about the small things.
My dogs were frequently scared while I was reading this manuscript. Sudden laughter makes them skittish.
Tip 4: Don't neglect the secondary characters.
They may also be the stars of the show. In the case of Carson, he definitely is.
Tip 5: Pay special attention to the emotional heart of the story.
Tip 6: Speak up if you think you are being scammed by a 12 year-old posing as an adult.
Disclaimer: As far as I've been able to determine, Brooks Benjamin is an actual adult. I've never had the chance to hug him in person but I know people who have. I trust their judgement. But when you read M7GLiT, you will see why I doubted this fact from the earliest moments. The voice is that perfect.