When you tell someone that you're writing a young adult book, they typically ask what it's about. My standard, boiled-down response is, “It's a coming-of-age story about a girl who tries to live her life according to the principles in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.”
When I tell people my one-line summary, they sometimes ask if I mean that Sarah, my narrator, wears long dresses and role plays. Not at all, although she wouldn't turn up her nose at occasionally putting on some good, old-fashioned dresses and twirling around. It's more like she's trying to do what the March sisters would have done.
Some of this has to do with how she is a good and loyal friend. But it's also being an industrious person, always bustling around and working on something or making something. Sarah knits socks and hats for her friends. She learns how to make energy bars for her cycling team once she figures out she can do it for a lot less money than it would cost to buy them. I even have this crazy idea that my book could include Sarah's Energy Bar Recipe and Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Or some easy patterns and instructions for knitters.
Getting the topic of my book refined into one sentence was difficult. As a writer, it's hard for me to step back from my work to try and summarize it in so few words. I want to tell people so much more, like how I'm experimenting with narrative voices. I want to talk about how my research on Alcott in college transformed a book I had loved to read into a text that was worth studying.