Mom and my sister Beth have both read my book, and I spent a couple of hours talking it through with them today—which, as you might imagine, was both exciting and terrifying. They shook part of it up so much that I emailed all my readers and told them not to read beyond the current page 89, as I want to revise the last ninety pages before they get there and that's the best stopping place.
This, my friends, is why you always have your novel read by someone who will give you honest feedback before you try to approach an agent with it. I knew there was a problem there, but had stared at it too long and simply couldn't say what. Now I know, and I can fix it.
The comments they gave me were overall greatly encouraging, though, including some compliments that left me a little startled (and made it possible to bear the thought of major reworking). It also felt good to talk about the fourth primary character, whom we all love, and about the reasons I did certain things. They even gave me some ideas for possible extensions to the story, which I will now have to write or burst, I guess.
Now I have to go revise, because I told my readers I'd have the updated pages by the end of March. Yipes. Apparently I'm crazy.