Hello Friends and Readers:
I am entering a competition that could land me a publication deal with Penguin. I have only twenty days to write my story. I want to pay homage to my beloved Uptown. I have made my outline and sketched out my structure. I am ready to write my story; however, the only hard part is coming up with a hook. Here are two that I came up with, and would appreciate your input as to which one hooks you and makes you want to purchase and read this upcoming book.
I must be invisible, because no one noticed me sitting on a cold, asphalt playground of Stockton Elementary School. Not even teachers, students, or staff looked out the windows. I sat, with my back against the wall of one of the wings of the school, wrapping my arms around my knees, resting my chin against them, staring blankly at my second-handed black and white soccer shoes and wondering how I ended up so misunderstood and so alone?
Did the universe punish me for wishing my baby sister should have never been born?
Some people were born with a silver spoon. Some lived in a country with a repressive and draconian regime. Some resided in a peaceful and rich land where its authorities invested heavily on their people—their greatest asset. Some escaped their politically polarized and war-torn homeland and became refugees. Some refugees received sponsorships from rich families of first world countries and settled in quiet, clean, and nice neighborhoods where they attended private schools with first rated education. Not my family. The Universe decided we shouldn’t have it so easy and paved a different path for us. We survived Cambodia’s killing fields and Thailand’s refugee camps only to be flown over and dropped in the middle of a town—Uptown, Chicago to be exact—in which Stuart Dybek, author of “The Coast of Chicago,” described it as “up there” in the “blight” department.
Indeed. I grew up in Uptown—once roamed by Al Capone and his men—a place where passersby saw it as dilapidated, littered with garbage and graffiti, and infested with new immigrants, Eastern European and Southeast Asian refugees, veterans, handicaps, mentally ill individuals, gangs, thieves, and perverts. Native-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and about sixty percent of Whites lived there, too. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Aragon Ballroom, Riviera Theatre, Uptown Theatre, and Argyle—known for Southeast Asian stores, clinics, and restaurants—stood as Uptown’s landmarks. Outsiders called it blight, ghetto, and crime city. We called it home.