|Hello Sarah. I am reviewing your item as a student of the "PDG Rockin' Review Academy" . Please know these are just my thoughts and observations on your piece, and you may take what you find useful and disregard the rest.
Overall Impression: Your story hit a nerve with me. I could relate to Ashley and the abuse of him by his father. I believe this to be a realistic and descriptive account of a boy and how the abuse by his family affected him. I particularly identified with this statement about Ashley. So it was easy to say that every time Ashley received a new bruise she seemed to smile with glee, since that particular incident he always stayed silent. It was just easier that way.
Hook: The title of your story hooked me. I wondered why you chose the title, A Road Colored Red for your story? The first paragraph of your story continued to draw me in as you described the setting.
Style and Voice: This story was definitely written in your own voice. This was an excellent beginning to your story: Within those rolling hills, valleys held shallow ponds, which were given birth to by late night torrential rains. There were many sentences similar to this one, that revealed your distinct voice.
Scene/Setting: The first and second paragraphs contain an excellent description of the setting. Away from the rest of the normal neighborhood noises, away from laughing children, and barking dogs. Far enough so that no one could hear the screams, the begging, the crying, as well as the silence. The distance caused a muffling effect against the hills, absorbing the sound like ink on paper. Everything looks so peaceful, the opposite of what the real situation is. You also used the school as a setting that showed Ashley was bullied at school as well as at home.
Characters: Ashley was a person with strong coping skills. Marilyn Martin, the only person willing to accept him, had also developed strong coping skills, with her abusive family . Ashley and Marlyn bond because of their shared circumstances.
Ashley's stepmother and father were clearly identified as the primary abusers. His father is portrayed as a violent physical, emotional and verbal abuser.
Ashley's mother died andAshley had stood up quickly, ready for the embrace he believed he deserved even with their unsteady relationship (,) but instead his father slapped him, hard, causing an almost instantaneous welt. He yelped in contest, his crying stopped as quickly as the slap had arrived.
“Stop your crying, that never helps anything. She’s gone, and I’ve got you to deal with,” his dad yanked him forward by the arm, and that was what life became. This tremendous physical and emotional abuse was unrelenting.
Ashley's stepmother was a manipulative emotional, and verbal, abuser as this story developed. Here is an example: A won spelling bee would be ‘an error by the teacher’, a piece of art work displayed in the hallway was to merely make him feel less like the retard that he was, in her words, a fall off his bike was his “Own damn clumsiness”. In fact Lois made it her mission in her very dull existence to say quite frequently with malice, “I don’t have the foggiest idea how your mom put up with you,”
Dialog: The dialog is realistic and helps the story move along as the reader actually feels a connection with Ashley and Marilyn. Here is a good example of how you use dialog effectively: So caught up in his thoughts he didn’t hear the garage door open and his Dad’s booming voice appeared behind him like a foggy mist, “You get your mother taken care of?”
Ashley jumped, his eyes even wider behind his glasses, “D-Dad I didn’t see you, yes, yes I took care of her an hour ago she’s already asleep,” he replied quickly.
Grammar and Mechanics: You have a general grasp of grammar and the mechanics, however this is an area you seem to struggle with. (so do I.) Some sentences seem awkward to read. This sentence is an example. Lois, in those days was thinner, awoke from one of her many drug induced naps she stumbled into the living room where he played. The sentence might be easier to read if written this way: Lois, who at that time was thinner, awoke from one of her many drug induced naps, and stumbled into the living room where he played. See how some very simple changes caused your sentence to roll smoothly?
Another area you might want to take a look at is formatting. Poems can be centered, but stories need to be aligned differently. Centering a story makes it difficult to read. Left aligned stories are much easier to read.
In addition, you should give attention to your paragraphs. If you double space them, they are easier to read, and will tell the reader where one paragraph ends, and a new one begins.
Suggestions: After these areas have been edited, I would be happy to review it again. I like the passion and empathy you show in this story. It has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to reading it after your edit.
Thank you for sharing your story. Write On!