Title: Swimming to Tokyo
Author: Brenda St John Brown
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 68,000
When Zosia Easton’s dad breaks the news he’s selling their house and taking a job in Tokyo, she insists she’s “fine” – just like he expects. Just like she always does. And in some ways, spending a summer in Tokyo before college is fine, especially when her high school crush, Liam Flanagan, is unexpectedly there too.
So what if they barely spoke back in New Jersey. Now they talk about everything as they explore the temples and tangled streets of Tokyo – her dead mother, his sketchy past and their growing feelings for each other. Yet, when Liam is suspected of a crime and even he admits he could have done it, Zosia realizes there’s a lot he hasn’t told her. And if he’s ever going to be more than the guy she spent one amazing summer with in Tokyo, she needs to hear it. Start to finish. Problem is, her father imposes 117 stupid rules to keep her from seeing Liam again. Which is so not fine.
SWIMMING TO TOKYO will appeal to fans of Sara Dessen and Julie Halpern.
The Good: This is a strong pitch overall. We get a sense of the main character and her primary relationships, as well as the premise, the setting, and the conflict.
Suggestions: I'd prefer a hook in the first sentence, and perhaps we could tighten up the wording a bit. I'd cut the "just like he expects" from the opening and leave it with "just like she always does." Watch the adverbs like "unexpectedly;" in most cases, they can be cut.
In the second paragraph, there are a couple of sentence fragments like "start to finish." Even though they give a good sense of narrative voice, I'd suggest tying them into the preceding sentence with an em-dash or otherwise making them full sentences, since the pitch readers might be frustrated English majors who'll notice and frown--and you don't want them frowning at your pitch.
Bottom line: this needs only minor tweaks, and I'd expect this to make the first cut. Well done!