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.