If you’ve been to your local booksellers lately, it is clear the Young Adult offerings have grown from occupying a couple of shelves into a legitimate section with assorted subgenres springing up. Like any genre, there are great, OK, and fairly poor examples of writing in this category, but to dismiss it wholesale, as some are wont to do, is unfortunate.
Now, I’m not saying this because I am secret fan of boy wizards or vampires who sparkle. I came to this particular party rather late and primarily because I was curious as to why my students were so fascinated with certain authors.
I started with Suzanne Collins and her Hunger Games trilogy and devored them as fast as I could get copies from the school library. I found her sense of voice to be fascinating, as I did the theme of sacrifice that runs throughout the series.
Recently I consumed the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I loved how she wove notions of identity, self-sacrifice, forgiveness and healing into a dystopian Midwestern landscape.
Don’t get me wrong, as I am well aware these books are not perfect from a literary standpoint. While many teens not have a problem with sentence fragments and the obsessive usage of present-tense verbs, the English teacher in me has to take a deep breath and put such concerns aside in order to find the often-compelling story within. A friend of mine recently said that he didn’t care how a book was categorized, because a good story was a good story. I totally agree with him.
I may have two Eric Metaxes books, one from my friend Joseph Bentz and the latest John Grisham novel on my Kindle all ready for me to read but it was nice, just for a while, to imagine what it would be like to be a member of the Dauntless faction in a rebellion-ravaged Chicago.
If you ask me, that’s a good story for young and old alike.
Having spent a few years teaching history, I often found myself reminding students that previous generations got along just fine without a particular device or gizmo.
The myth that drives our culture today is that we need more tools to do more things more quickly. Now, when it comes to paying bills online as opposed to writing out checks and placing stamps on envelopes, I am all for such innovation. But the double-edged sword that is modern technology drives us to practically hyperventilate when things aren’t moving quickly enough for our liking. We need it now, now, now and when our demands for the immediate are not met, our internal pressure cooker clicks on.
While I struggle to combat such tendencies, I am not as successful as I would like to be. For example, I am able to verify any time I wish my current book sales. This may sound like a blessing, but it is so easy for this to lead to thrice-daily checking of numbers that probably should be examined, at the most, weekly for the first month and then once a month thereafter. Fixating on how many sales have, or have not, been recorded can quickly transform someone from a diligent supervisor of their work to an obsessive person needing to feast on data like whales dine on krill.
There is, and always has been, a value in being patient in our world of instant gratification. I was just never very good at learning that lesson.
Toward that end, here’s to becoming a “tortoise” in this hare-brained world.
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.