THE SCIENCE OF SEEING (Upper MG Contemporary)


The Science of Seeing


Meera Trehan


(Upper) MG Contemporary

Word Count:

59,000 words


It’s September 2001, and Milni Arora, an Indian-American eighth grader, has just moved from San Francisco to a small town in Virginia. Before she even sets foot in her new school, the elite Madison Academy, Milni knows she won’t fit in with the almost all-white cookie-cutter preppies she’s seen in the yearbook. And she’s right; those first weeks, she has no friends at all, and especially not Luke Collier, the all-around perfect, older boy from across the street.

Milni’s mother and Luke’s father start working together and, one morning, have a meeting at the Pentagon. It’s on September 11. Milni spends the afternoon at Luke’s house where they wait, worry, and help each other through their distress. By the time their parents return, unharmed at least on the outside, Milni and Luke have formed an unexpected friendship.

In the following weeks, the students at Madison Academy are kinder, and Milni settles into life at Madison Academy. But then a series of post-9/11 hate crimes targeting Indian-Americans hit her town. Milni’s parents are distraught and want to move back to San Francisco. Milni desperately wants to stay in the town that’s now become her home and sets out to solve the crimes herself. But she’s in for a shock when her new friend (and secret crush) Luke Collier emerges as the prime suspect.

The Science of Seeing is a 59,000 word upper MG novel. This story is particularly timely given the unfortunate resurgence in crimes against those perceived to be Muslim.

I am Indian-American writer; my parents emigrated from India. My work for children has been published in a number of magazines including Skipping Stones, Chess Life for Kids, ChildArt, and Stinkwaves. I am a member of SCBWI and The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. I am also a lawyer who has worked on civil rights issues for over a decade

First 300 words:

I used to think I could trust my eyes. I thought if I was looking at something—say, a rock—I could tell you what it was. Then, for my thirteenth birthday, I got a book on optical illusions, pictures that changed depending on how I looked at them. In a blink, a rabbit became a duck, a vase became the profile of two faces. I spent hours trying to figure out how exactly they worked and why I could never see both images at once. But for all my studying, I missed the most important point of all: The biggest tricks your eyes will play on you aren’t on the page, but off it.

Take my first time in the MadCad woods. It was late summer and my family had just beaten the moving truck to our new house in Walking Fern, Virginia. My big sister Rana pulled my book out of my hands and said, “Time for a hike.”

Usually, I would have grabbed my book back. But for the last two months, I’d been poring over the maps, brochures and yearbook that Madison Academy, our fancy new private school, had sent us. They had replaced the optical illusions book as my favorite bedtime reading. After pages of nature walks and campfires, the MadCad woods—or officially, the Madison Academy Outdoor Education Area—had begun to seem almost like its own person. Sort of like one of my relatives in India I’d heard a million stories about, but never met. Technically unknown, but safe enough. Certainly better than the pack of cookie-cutter preppies who were going to be in my class. Now that was something to avoid. But the woods were going to be fine.


  • I would love to see the first three chapters. Please send through https://QueryManager.com/query/1009 and paste the chapters where it asks for sample pages. Also, please reference #WCNV in your query!

    Looking forward to reading more!

  • Beth Phelan says:

    Oooh I want to see this! Can I please have the full sent to beth@thebentagency.com as a word document attachment, with a query letter, and “WCNV request: THE SCIENCE OF SEEING” in the subject line? So looking forward to reading! Thanks!

    Beth Phelan
    The Bent Agency

  • Caitie Flum says:

    I would love to see more of this! Please send the query letter in the body of an email and the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to querycaitie(at)lizadawson(dot)com and make sure you have WCNV Request in the subject line!

  • The middle grade voice is so strong here, even in this short sample! I would love to see this on submission when it’s agented.

  • Susan Hawk says:

    Really loved these pages! I’d like to see the query and the first 30 pages, imbedded in the email, please. Email to: kidsqueries@thebentagency.com and use WCNV in the subject line. I’m currently closed to queries (and you will receive an auto response saying so), but I will read WCNV material I’ve requested. Many thanks!

  • Love the sound of this! Could you please send me the full manuscript via email?

  • Melissa Nasson says:

    I would really like to see more of this! Please send the first 50 pages as a Word doc or PDF to melissa@rpcontent.com. Thanks!

  • I’d love to take a look at the full manuscript! Please feel free to send it along to andrea@harveyklinger.com–word document would be great, thanks. I look forward to reading.
    – Andrea Somberg

  • I’m really drawn in by the concept here. I’d love to see a synopsis + 50 pgs at query@psliterary.com!

  • I’d be interested in seeing more of this. Please submit 20 pages to vselvaggio@windstream.net with “WCNV Contest” in the subject line. Can’t wait to read more.

  • Sara Megibow says:

    What a wonderful submission! I’d love to read the first 50 pages of this book – please send in the body of an email to: saraquery@ktliterary.com and include “WCNV request” in the subject of the email. Thanks!
    -Sara Megibow
    twitter @SaraMegibow

  • Uwe Stender says:

    Please send the full as an MS Word attachment to my email.

  • Wow, the writing in the sample here is fantastic! I would love to see the full manuscript. Please send as a Word doc attachment to patricia@marsallyonliteraryagency.com, and make sure to include “WCNV Request” in the subject line. Can’t wait to read!

  • Louise Fury says:

    I really like the premise and this has such a great voice! Please send me the query and full manuscript to furyqueries (@) thebentagency.com
    Looking forward to reading more.

  • Roseanne Wells says:

    Hi Meera,

    I’d love to take a look. Please send 30 pages following the guidelines on jdlit.com, with WCNV in the subject line. Thanks!

  • This is exactly the kind voice-driven, layered MG I’m looking for. I’d be happy to see this! Can you please send me the first 50 pages and be sure to put “WCNV Requested” in your subject line!

  • Brent Taylor says:

    I absolutely love the first line. I would love to read more. Please send the full manuscript as a Microsoft word document to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com.

  • Please do email the query letter and manuscript my way, thanks.

    To tell you a little bit about our literary agency, which closes more deals for authors than any other agency worldwide: tridentmediagroup.com

    Trident Media Group (TMG) is a prominent literary agency located in New York City that originally formed in 2000. TMG represents over 1,000 bestselling and emerging authors in a range of genres of fiction and nonfiction, many of whom have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers Lists and have won major awards and prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the P.E.N. Faulkner Award, the P.E.N. Hemingway Award, The Booker Prize, and the L.A. Times Book Award, among others. TMG is one of the world’s leading, largest and most diversified literary agencies.

    For more than ten consecutive years, TMG continues to rank number one for sales according to publishersmarketplace.com in North America. TMG is the only U.S. literary agency to consistently be in the top ten in both UK fiction and UK non-fiction and has ranked as highly as number one in UK fiction deals.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    All the best,


    Mark Gottlieb
    Literary Agent
    Trident Media Group, LLC
    41 Madison Avenue, Floor 36
    New York, NY 10010
    (212) 333-1506

  • Ben Grange says:


    This is a very strong start to your manuscript. I’m intrigued by the idea as well as your writing style. If you’d like, feel free to email me the first three chapters for review.



  • Congrats Meera! I’m looking forward to reading your full manuscript. Elle will send you instructions on how to submit the work to me.

  • Rachel Stark says:

    Love that opening paragraph–I’d love to look at this! You do not need an agent to submit to me; feel free to send your query and your manuscript (as a Word doc) to me at rstark[at]skyhorsepublishing[dot]com. Please include “WCNV Request” in the subject line.

  • Lana Popovic says:

    Sounds awesome! Could I see the query and the full ms, as a PDF, to lana@chalbergsussman.com?

  • Katherine says:

    Awesome job! I’d love to read this once it’s published! You rock!

  • Hi Meera,
    Thank you so much for participating in the WCNV contest! I really enjoyed this opening and would love to keep reading THE SCIENCE OF SEEING. Please send the query letter and first 50 pages as a Word doc, to my attention, to fullcirclelit@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
    All my best,
    Taylor Martindale Kean
    Full Circle Literary

    p.s. If you receive multiple requests from Full Circle agents, please just note that in your query letter.

  • Janet Holden says:

    The introduction really sucked me in. I want to know more!

  • Please please please send this to me! I’d love to see the synopsis and query in the body of the email, with your full MS attached (.doc or .docx) to michelle@inklingsliterary.com

    Please put #WCNV in the subject line with the title of your book.

    Thank you!

  • I don’t think you have enough requests yet, so I’ll add one more to the pile. It is the best request, though, so you can ignore all the others. 😉 You can send the manuscript (with the query included as the first page) to querymichelle @ mansionstreet.com and mention this is from the WCNV contest in the subject.

  • Rachel Griffiths says:

    Hi Meera,
    Great voice! I’m an editorial director at Scholastic, and I’m off soon on maternity leave. But I’m back in Nov, and if someone hasn’t snapped you up by then, please send your ms my way. Good luck!

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