Thursday, October 25, 2012

Young Adult Literature Coming of Age

Super Fudge, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, To Kill a Mockingbird... Lord of the Flies: titles that anyone who grew up with me would recognize in an instant. Classics! Timeless! Books I was forced to read for English class...

I enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. I really did. I might have even gotten an A in the class. But...uh...the story didn't exactly change my life. It wasn't a book I could use to escape, to find the answers to life I was searching for at the time. Not like with Trixie Belden. SHE I could relate to.

Trixie lived in the country with her parents and three brothers (oh, Brian be still my heart) on their apple orchard. She was friends with a rich girl named Honey and they rode horses a lot.  I looooooove horses. And then there was this boy Jim. Ahhhhhh, Jim. When you held her hand for the first time I thought I would die. I think I sufficed with screaming. :)

I was fourteen years old. Trixie was living my dream.

See, I too grew up a little low on funds like Trixie. And I had friends who had money. I wanted a boy to LIKE me.  Hold my hand, darn it. (By the way, I waited months for my husband to hold my hand for the first time. Why oh why do they torture us so?) And these needs haven't changed since I was a girl. Trust me, I have teenage daughters. They feel powerless. They want ideas. They want to go on a date, maybe have some money. And a horse.

I'm still waiting on the horse myself, girls.

I waited impatiently for each new book to come out and then hoped I could afford it.  My mom tried desperately to help feed my need for new reads. But sadly, there were very few available and even fewer I could relate to. Judy Blume wrote for middle grade. And while I enjoyed her books they didn't have all the answers. Especially when I got to high school.

It's such a difficult age.  I mean, being stuck in bodies that won't stop changing is hard enough without adults telling you to grow up faster. Ugh. Keeping up can be a miserable challenge. Teenagers are TOTALLY misunderstood. That's why I write for Young Adults. And I'm so proud to be amongst the many that do.

Young Adult literature has come a long way since I was a kid. It's grown into a genre that feeds multiple generations. Hello, adult readers of YA anyone? (Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Hunger Games.) It allows us to explore others' lives without risking our own. Learn from others' mistakes or find solace in them. Find redemption in knowing that we're not alone.

 This world is a little different than the one I grew up in, so the books need to be as well.

A lot of the challenges teens face haven't changed over the years, except for the fact that there seems to be more of them. More challenges means more difficulties. More difficulties means more books needed to help teens find a solution. Or at least an escape.

I have a list I'm compiling at the request of others. I'm happy that it's taking me so long. It's a loooooong list. A lot longer than the one I had growing up. :) And that makes me so proud. I'm so grateful to all my fellow writers who are helping the next great generation to enjoy the journey they are on.  And for bringing a few of us adults along with. I'm loving the ride!

Meanwhile, here's my literal bookshelf. I had to track down a few in various bedrooms. :) Perfect.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Mythology by Helen Boswell

Hope Gentry doesn't believe in Fate. Born with an unusual power to see the dark memories of those around her, Hope just wants to be a normal teenager. But on the first day of her senior year of high school, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to a transfer student named Micah Condie. At first glance, Micah seems like a boy that most girls would dream about. But when Hope's powers allow her to discover Micah's darkest secret, she quickly becomes entangled in the lives of mythical entities she never dreamed existed. Was this her destiny all along? And will her powers help her survive the evil of the Demon Impiorum?

Mythology isn't just for English class anymore.


What a story!!

Not every story has the ability to keep me up at night, and even fewer have the distinction of being worth it in the end. Mythology was excellent. The storytelling was smooth, descriptive, and with a plot that was not only new and refreshing, but funny, despite the dark feelings typically associated with demons. And high school.  :)  I mean, who cheers for the demons?

*slowly raises hand*

And such is one of the many surprises this book had in store for me. I don't usually cheer for the villians. Or are they the villians? Redefining stereotypes and people's freedom to choose who they are struck a major chord with me. No longer was mythology about legends and folklore. It is about breaking the molds and myths that shape our existence. Some of the trials Hope faces are not unlike those of other teenage girls, and the author does a very good job of addressing the difficult issues that can define our lives. Or destroy it.

Hope and Micah each have their own personal demons to battle, and one of them is the reason that some libraries are choosing not to carry the book. Ridiculous. I have to wonder if we all read the same book. I for one found myself anxiously awaiting to see how it would all work out, cheering for Hope and the bravery she had.

The story was not only intriguing, but thought provoking, granting this YA fiction far more depth than I was expecting, given its title. Talk about breaking stereotypes. I mean, smiling because one of the characters slips and swears? Yeah, that's not like me. Of course they did get chewed out for it, by "the bad guy" no less, so yeah...pretty funny.

The book ended far too quickly for my liking and I find myself anxiously awaiting the sequel, and maybe a nap or two to prep myself ahead of time. I know better now.  :)

Well done, Helen. Well done. 

And through Wednesday of this week you can find your own copy of Mythology here at Amazon. FOR FREE!!!  Check out Helen's blogpost here to find out why!! Hint: it has to do with a couple of school libraries not carrying it. Enjoy!