Peer Review by mliu959 (United States)

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By: blairtheadventuregirl

       Liberty Street in downtown Charleston is where the heart of our summer was. Adventure Girlz was centered in about five of the dorms there right off of King Street which is the lifeline of Charleston. I distinctly remember one day at the camp when the idea of "Story of Self," was introduced to the group. Basically our life stories were to be written in our journals. I thought for sure me and my sister's  would be the same story of our father as the group started working hard

      That night we split into two groups to give each other feedback on our stories. One group went to a dorm room and my group stayed in the lounge area. The lounge had a color scheme of mostly blue with accents of green. There were two couches facing eacn other and chairs in front of them making an open square. There was also a tv stand in the corner but none of us used it.  Being there was fun because you could look down on the lower lounge area and the kitchen past a set of stairs and a half wall. We were all friends, so walking in the room had a light mood.

     The light mood didn't last long though, as the question of was sharing first popped up.  I volunteered to go first, sharing the stories of my father.  In short, he was an abusive drug addict that left our family when I was in the third grade and when my sister was in the seventh grade. I always felt mixed emotions about him because because I hold a few good memories but I know he is toxic.  It also didn't help when holidays or birthday came around and he'd promise he loved me, and wanted to see me.  I focussed my story of self on my past with him.  I thought my sister would too, but she focussed her story of self on her days of being tormented in elementary school and how she overcame it.  Me and my sister are pretty close, so I was a little shocked. Not as shocked though as hearing of how one twin struggled with an illness as a youth, and her sister's story of coping with it.  Or hearing about the fan girl singer with the most postive exterior that looked suicide right in the face sitting on a bed, watching the cock tick, clutching a knife. Even the cool girl had struggled wihth her parent's long standing divorce and turned to toxic substances. Not even the giggly and tiny girl had a clear past.  She struggled through so much, and never let it get to her.  There was an undeniable feeling of power and understanding in the room as words of our stories floated about.  I felt accepted and understood in a way I had never felt before.  I could look at these girls I had known for years and say that I actually knew them!  I realized the severity of the situations i already knew they had gone through.  Just because they never showed it, it didn't mean that it didn't effect them.  Nobody knew about my father, it wasn't a thing my sister or I ever talked about.  Nobody knew how many emotions I had about it.  I felt free now free now that people did know about it.  Nobody judged me for it, instead they all understood what it was like based on their own experiences.  It was like a whole tangle of shackles was released from me, and there was no going back. After all our stories were shared, some of us were in tears.  We all felt the need to hug it out in the middle of the room and went back to our dorms for the night.  

     After our group went back to the dorms that night, and even to today, there's a feeling and unity resonated in my soul.  I know it sounds super cliche, but it was a very eye opening experience for me.  I learned that nobody has a pristine past, abd even the most bubbly person you know can have deep emotions tied to a dark past.  I also feel so much more confidence in my own story, and I have made peace with it.  It took me a long time of serious thinking, but I know I am at peace with my past because I have no problems telling somebody about it or even cracking jokes about it.  Nobody can say anything about my past that will effect me. I love where my life is now, and I for sure wouldn't be here without my past.  Adventure Girlz has not only been a life saver but a life guider and has helped me pave the path for my future. 




Message to Readers

description and content and a little advice on vocabulary usage.

Peer Review

I really liked the content and the message of the story. I think that sometimes we need reminders that all of us have skeletons in our closets. Obviously, this is quite a personal subject for you, and I appreciate that you shared the story with us very much. I was moved by your descriptions of your campmates' struggles contrasted with their positive exteriors.

The part I could identify with the most was when you described how you shared your story, heard others', and for the first time, felt accepted and understood. It's a truly amazing experience to know that you're not alone and to know that you will always have support behind you.

I feel like the scene vs. reflection balance is mostly consistent throughout the story, except for the final paragraph where it's too reflection-heavy. The balance is well-executed in the third/main paragraph, but perhaps a touch more reflection is needed in the second paragraph.

I like how you added a resolution to your remarkable and poignant story and how you told the reader what you'd learned from the experience instead of just describing the scenes. However, I feel as if it's too much of a closure or too much of a dive into your thoughts, so to speak; if this makes sense at all, it seems as if you're emphasizing too much that it was the ending. It's the old show not tell cliché, but I think it would be really powerful if you can SHOW what you learned--by picking a situation that illustrates how you've changed or something similar--instead of straightforwardly telling us what you've gained.

Reviewer Comments

I mostly commented on the writing instead of the content in my line editing, but I just wanted to let you know that I really liked your story. You have a piece with so much potential here. My main concern is fluidity--how you put your words and sentences together. I know this isn't your final draft, but when you do write your final, I'd read everything aloud to identify awkward phrasing or sentence structure and just to see if everything flows. On the other hand, I appreciate how you included details only pertinent to the piece and didn't dump excessive information/descriptions on the readers, a very easy pit for writers like us to fall into. The expository thread is very clear and it was great how you first gave us context for the "Story of Self" and then delved into the tale itself. However, even though your story works well chronologically, I'd urge you to experiment a little and create a more complex structure (flashbacks, flash forwards, etc.) Also, I noticed that you wanted advice on vocabulary/word-choice and I did find a few misused/repeated phrases in this story. To vary your word-choice, I think your best bet would be to use a thesaurus or to scribble down clever turn-of-phrases that you read. One last piece of advice--something that I've always found helpful is to keep a story as concise and vivid as possible by cutting out or replacing linking verbs and other expletives. Overall though, I think it's incredible that you managed to tell a fully developed story under 1000 words and not leave the reader hanging for more details or frustrated by the abundance of details. I was gripped from the start when you mentioned "Story of Self" and I'm so glad I read right to the end.

Thank you so much again for sharing this piece; reading this story was an eye-opening experience (yep. cliche!) for me. Good job and keep on writing!

P.S. Sorry, I didn't see that you had submitted a newer version of this, but I hope that my comments will be helpful for a future work!