Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Mary Taylor
Pitch, Yaw & Roll: Identity, Love & Addiction
Mary Taylor, author

Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

In Pitch, Yaw & Roll, book two of the Emotional Imprints Series, we find Beth Lawrence tossed into the unknown. In July of 1979 her parents suddenly moved to the remote woods of rural New Hampshire where everything is upside down and 180 degrees different from everything she knew before. She went from being the poorest girl in an urban, all-girls, elite private school to being called a "rich, preppy, flatlander" in the co-ed, public school in a small New England town. 

"New state, new home, new lives. No friends."

Beth now struggles to find meaning and orient herself in the confusing and unfamiliar world she must face alone.

The second book in Taylor’s Emotional Imprints Series, after Dinosaurs & Snow Angels, finds Beth Lawrence now 14 and in rural New Hampshire, where, still shaken by a tragic death, she faces the uncertainty of entering high school in a new town. It’s the end of the 1970s, and Beth, ever the outsider, doesn’t know how to fit in. Her first days in her first public school, she avoids eye contact, notes that the building is “two floors of gray,” feels jolted by the strangeness of being in classes with boys, and can’t help coming across as a “preppy snob” and “flatlander.” After all, she’s had years of French and has read Silent Spring.

Beth is an exquisite example of a young teenager of the 1970’s, facing puberty, grief, and family troubles, and her adaptation to this new environment powers a series of vivid, emotional, character-driven scenes, starting with her being questioned, at excruciating length and in front of her new peers, by the first teacher to call her name off a roster. She’s an engaging protagonist, but some secondary characters could use more development, especially as they and Beth face intense events such as suicide and aggressive, sometimes shocking behavior, such as the boy who, in a burst of raw language, calls her a tease after she refuses to drink on a date.

Though this is the second installment, readers choosing this book first will find the story clear and inviting—the plot is clear and powerful enough to enjoy on its own, and the length and pacing are perfect for young readers, who will connect with Beth’s troubles and efforts to make friends, despite the time period. The simple, apt, and beautifully portrayed metaphor of the title connects a plane’s movement to Beth’s attempt to orient her own life: inspired by the memory of learning what it means to “pitch, yaw, and roll,” Beth yearns to adapt to “this big unfurling pattern of the unfamiliar.”

Takeaway: Beth faces a new town, a new school, and old anguish in this engaging and relatable coming-of-age novel.

Great for fans of: Paul Zindel, Bonnie Sue-Hitchcock’s The Smell of Other People's Houses.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-