You’ve Got Five Pages, #TheCraneHusband by #KellyBarnhill, to Tell Me You’re Good. #FirstChapter #BookReview #Podcast

Ooo, folks, this is a neat one.

As writers, we hear all the time that we’ve got to hook readers in just the first few pages or else. We’ve got to hook agents in the first few pages or else.

Whether you’re looking to get published or just hoping to hook your reader, first impressions are vital. Compelling opening scenes are the key to catching an agent or editor’s attention, and are crucial for keeping your reader engaged.


Well then, let’s study those first few pages in other people’s stories, shall we?

Today I snagged from the New Release shelf:

The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill*

The atmosphere of a dark fairy tale hangs heavy in the old farmhouse where ⁠Kelly Barnhill’s The Crane Husband takes place. Our narrator is a fifteen-year-old girl who’s become the caregiver to both her little brother and mother–a mother who, on this day, brings home a large crane and calls him their father.

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

We as readers are as agog as the little brother, while the teen is doing her best to maintain a cynical sanity to her mother’s artistic whims. The fact we as readers do not know about the crane being dressed in human clothing until the second page irked me at first, but as a writer I respect Barnhill’s choice to show the reactions to the initial shock of a crane in the kitchen before the next shock of the crane in clothes. The third shock comes when the mother shows intimate displays of affection to the crane–and the crane reciprocates. The chapter ends with the teen blowing this off, eager for the crane’s departure like her mother’s other lovers, but the chapter ends with yet another masterful twist by Barnhill:

My mother wasn’t one to keep anything around, save for me and Michael. So I wasn’t particularly worried about the crane.

I should have been worried about the crane.

With such a bizarre start, I can only imagine where Barnhill’s tale can go from here.

No matter what the season brings, keep reading!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

*If I refer to Kelly Barnhill as Kate at some point, I humbly apologize. I goofed!