In the twelfth chapter of The Wizard’s Dilemma, Kit and Nita finally have a conversation, and Nita bonds with her mother. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For talk of grief, cancer.
I’m surprised that Nita was able to pay attention at all in this chapter. One of the things I had to learn the hard way while dealing with fear and grief in this context was that traumatic moments take over your mind. (Add to that the fact that I’m a naturally anxious person, and it was a nightmare.) I remember how hard it was to listen to lectures from my teachers while my mom was in the hospital. Alternately, I’d zone out a lot more during Cross Country practice, too. My body or mind would fill in the blanks for me, and that was mostly because I was on auto-pilot. In hindsight, these experiences feel almost eerie to me. How did I ever survive them or make it from one day to the next?
But I did, and Nita will, too. it makes sense, then, that Kit reaching out to her injected her with an energy of sorts. She refers to it in such a fascinating way: those moments where she interacts with Kit feel real. Why is that? My guess – and I’m guessing based on my own experience – is that these are the only parts of her life that are closest to what it was before her mother’s tumor. Kit reminds her of wizardry, of adventures, even of her recent failures, all of which have nothing to do with her mom. Kit represents hope, too! Even if she is reluctant for Kit’s help, at least she now has it.
Of course, that’s not an actual solution, and there’s still so much more to work out. Even on a personal level, Kit and Nita’s first conversation since the opening of the book isn’t that complete. Understandably so, though! Nita tells Kit why she’s been so absent, and that kind of dominates the conversation. Nita’s apology is short and to-the-point, and it’s because there are BIGGER and MORE IMPORTANT things to worry about. I’m glad that Kit didn’t push Nita too hard on the whole issue of her not telling him earlier; that’s a complicated thing, and it’s not always related to trusting a person. Do you know how frequently I don’t share things because I don’t want to feel like a burden? (What a lovely habit from childhood to retain into adulthood.) It’s complicated!
However, at least this conflict is, for the most part, resolved. Kit and Nita are good with one another, and Kit is now ready to assist Nita as she works her wizardry on her mother. Speaking of her mother, I am just in awe at what Duane accomplishes here. One of the things I’m attempting to do in my novel is create a close, loving relationship between the main character and his mother, and sometimes, that’s harder than it seems. How do you do that and still have conflict exist between them? If everything is perfect and loving, it feels fake. And yet, here I am, reading Nita’s conversation with her mother, and it’s precisely the vibe I’m going for.
Honesty is a big part of that. Nita’s mother patiently listens to what Nita is planning, but she doesn’t accept it without questions or uncomfortable ideas. In short, they’re both unique individuals with their own ideas about life. That doesn’t make things easy for Nita, of course. She has a moment where she scolds her mother for talking about wizardry as if it’s nothing but fun. It’s a fantastic exchange between the two of them, and I love that they’re so open about all of this. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but this all feels like a brilliant subversion of the YA trope where kids never talk to their parents. In this series, Nita often relies on her mother, never more so than in The Wizard’s Dilemma.
That’s also why it’s sad when Nita’s mother vocalizes a terrifying reality: What if Nita’s wizardry doesn’t work? Look, I don’t even want to think about it, but that line felt like Duane reminding the reader that there is a chance this won’t work. Nita’s mother may only have modern medicine and her own body to rely on. Will that be enough?
Lord, I hope so.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
– I have updated my list of conventions and events for the remainder of the year and much of next year. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!