Hi all -- I'm writing a synopsis for an in-progress MG contemporary novel. I'm submitting the first ten pages of the novel for an editorial critique at a conference, and the guidelines require a synopsis. Any help would be much appreciated!
(If you have comments on the basic flow of the plot, I'd love to hear them, too -- the first draft is only half-done, and I'm definitely open to changing up my tentative plotline!)
Seventh-grader RYDER WAYT wants out — out of her run-down trailer park, out of her insular Mississippi town, out of her school where everyone thinks she’s a freak after she scores 32 on the ACT. So when her tarot card-reading AUNT LISA shows up to provide a stabilizing influence after Ryder’s klepto mom is stuck in jail, Ryder is inspired to start her own tarot card-reading business to raise $3000 to pay for an out-of-state summer program for gifted students.
Using her sharp powers of observation, Ryder bluffs her way to a successful business. Ryder’s newfound fame as a Girl Genius and tarot reader alienates her two best friends and makes her a prime target of BRENDA DUBOIS, the local bully, but she gains a valuable friendship with the new kid in town. Recently arrived from Florida, NEIL loves science and claims his parents work for NASA. Although he scoffs at Ryder’s tarot business, he helps her when the Student Council asks for her psychic assistance in determining who’s been threatening to ruin the Homecoming Dance.
Ryder’s sleuthing leads her to the perp, who just happens to be one of her ex-best friends. Ryder reluctantly turns him in — and earns serious cash from the Student Council — but her victory is short-lived when the principal, under pressure from local parents unhappy with the results of Ryder’s spiritual guidance, forbids her from plying her trade on school grounds.
With $1000 left to raise, Ryder tries other businesses, but selling trained crawfish as pets and leading RV campers on a ghost tour of the local state park just aren’t as lucrative as her tarot business. So when Ryder’s dad and aunt go out of town for a weekend, Ryder throws a $20-per-ticket Tarot Bash. But when Aunt Lisa’s tarot parlor burns down during the party, Ryder is blamed. To avoid trouble with the law, Ryder gives her savings to Aunt Lisa, who leaves town. Ryder is stuck with no friends, no money, and no hope of escape from the town that now believes she’s a juvenile delinquent.
Ryder finds a chance to redeem herself when 5-year-old JAYDEN disappears from the trailer park — and the $10,000 reward is pretty tempting, too. Ryder reconciles with Neil and her two ex-best friends, and the clues — and the cards — lead the team to Jayden. Jayden was kidnapped by Brenda’s father after Jayden spotted Mr. Dubois setting fire to Aunt Lisa’s trailer. Ryder discovers that Mr. Dubois was paid by some powerful people to frighten Aunt Lisa, whose tarot business also caused some unwanted changes in town. Ryder puts aside her own hatred of Brenda — and her own need for cash — to help Mr. Dubois turn state’s witness against the real villains.
When the dust settles, Ryder learns that, with her friends, family, and the understanding she’s gained about the townspeople, junior high can be tolerable — even for a Girl Genius.