CE McVey’s coming-of-age novel went ‘under the microscope’ in our August issue. Read James’s suggested rewrite of the extract below, and see the August issue for the original and James’s feedback
His hope for a day off school had been encouraged briefly when he’d gone down for breakfast and found his mother listening to Radio Oxford in the kitchen. This only ever happened during emergencies such as extreme weather or … well, there had been no four-minute warning on the news that morning.
She spoke without looking up from the creaking ironing board and hissing iron: “They’ve read out the school closures. Granger’s isn’t one.”
‘How you feeling?’ she said.
‘Oh. Alright,’ he said. “Well, I mean . . .” He held his hand tentatively to his forehead, watching for her reaction. Was it possible to have concussion two days after being kicked in the head?
‘Good. Well. Back to school today, then.’ She nodded towards two pieces of cold white toast waiting for him on the worktop
She looked up, eyebrows raised to receive and defeat the protest.
‘They’re saying there’s going to be more snow, though! A weather front coming in from the East – blizzard conditions. The AA are saying not to make journeys unless absolutely necessary.’ His voice had gone high and squeaky –childish and whiney instead of fifteen and serious. He cleared this throat gruffly.
His mother looked pointedly out of the window as a car swished unimpeded through in the slush.
‘Sorry, kiddo. If school’s open, you’re going in like everyone else. Your dad’s gone to work, and look – there’s Emma on her way now.’ She nodded over the road.
Rob watched as Emma, masked in a steaming cream snood and hugging her folders to her chest like the American college girl she wanted to be, picked her way through patchy snow down the driveway.
Even Emma wasn’t enough to make him want to go in today.