Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Judge a Book by It's Title

I had a hard time deciding on the title of my book, and I know an editor may change it again, but the title was important to me.

I went through a few different ideas before I decided on CANARY. First, I titled my book PRIVILEGE, but then there was a television show with the same name. I also called it UNTIL SOMEONE HEARS YOU, which I still kind of like, but I don’t think captures the message of the book. The name I stuck with the longest was LETTERS TO MY FORMER SELF. I mentioned in a previous post that the book is episodic. Instead of chapters, the book is a mix of narrative and blog postings. Kate blogs letters to her former self. She writes in the present, but tells her past self advice that she wish she would have had. Her blog is titled: www.letterstomyformerself.

It was in one of these blog postings to herself that I came up with the title CANARY. The blog post comes after Kate has been dealing with being raped by another player on the basketball team. She has mentioned the event to her friends, boyfriend (now ex) and finally her dad. No one believes her because she had been drinking, and her father wants her to stay silent. She is dealing with the issue of whether to remain silent, or if she should tell everyone the truth.

I don’t plan to post a lot from the book, but a lot of people have asked me about the title. So I think a little peek at one of her blog postings wouldn’t hurt. After all, aren’t blogs meant to be public?!

EXCERPT from Canary:

You can only keep things inside for so long before they start to destroy you.

IN HISTORY class we learned how canaries were used in coalmines to warn miners of dangerous gases.

A canary was lowered down into the deep dark bowels of the mines.

If a bird was pulled back up alive, then the miners knew it was safe to go down.

If it died, the bird was sacrificed, an early warning saving the lives of the miners.

The miners also brought the birds down with them. A canary sang and sang and if the bird stopped singing, the miners would evacuate. The bird was more sensitive to the harmful gases and the miners would have enough time to get out safely. The birds, however, usually didn’t.

I imagined the birds doing what was natural to them, and having that used against them. Their tiny lungs that sang was what ultimately destroyed them.

I thought about the canaries and how their purpose for miners was to breathe in the air until it got too toxic, until it killed them.

I thought about this as I replayed Dad’s words in my head.

I had been silent like Dad demanded for over a week now.

Each night before I went to bed, I thought about Dad’s warnings, his doubt and anger. I thought about what Luke had done to me and his whispered threats if I spoke out loud. I thought about how Jack hadn’t cared; how he moved on without looking back at me. I thought about all of these things, and I stayed quiet. I pushed it deep down inside, and for the time, I was still alive.

But I wondered how many dirty fumes I’d continue to ingest before I sang my last song, before I couldn’t go down any deeper with the secrets I knew.

So...this blog post got me thinking about titles. What book (or movie) titles do you like? Which ones don't seem to work? Share your thoughts!


Amna said...

I love your title!

And this blog post, within a blog post! Really great excerpt!

I really like the title, Gossip Girl. It just fits perfectly.

I love the title: The Book Thief. Again, utter perfection for an unterly perfect book!

I also like Kody's : The Duff! Its such a cool acronym

Stephanie Jenkins said...

Great post, Rachele. I personally LOVE Confessions of a Shopaholic and Mean Girls.

Catt said...

Can I just marry that excerpt?

Rachele Alpine said...

Catt...I'm glad you like it. However, you may not want to propose to this excerpt...there's 73,000 more words to the book. What if something better comes along and sweeps you off your feet?! :)

Kristan said...

LOVE the analogy! I think that's totally title-worthy. Great passage. Now I'm totally stoked to read your book -- when it's out. ;)

AchingHope said...

Oh my goodness... I almost cried reading that! It's absolutely.. wow. Just wow.