“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
― C.S. Lewis
When I took my library classes, one required semester was devoted to young adult (Y/A) literature. I entered it apprehensively, fearing boring banality, sophomoric adolescent drivel.
Was I mistaken!
It is so enjoyable, on many levels – as much so as any “adult” level book – without all the unnecessary length, but with as much drama, excitement and suspense.
But what I really get out of it is the opportunity for introspection.
As adults, we have a say in who we are and what we do. Kids, for the most part, don’t. The stories afford the opportunity to see the world again through the eyes and thoughts, hopes and fears, of youth attempting to navigate through a world they find themselves caught up in, often beyond their control, in search of their identity, where and how they fit in, and how they attempt to control their destiny.
And I’m not surprised that so many of these Y/A books become hugely successful movies – The Seeker, The Giver, The Chronicles of Narnia, are just a few examples.
It takes me back to my own youth and struggles to come to terms with the world and myself.
And I discover in “teen lit” that, even as adults, inside each of us is still the adolescent striving against a world where we have little say, still searching for identity, just where we fit in, what our destiny is.
Y/A literature affords the opportunity to realize that no matter how old we are, some things never change.
In J.M. Barries’ Peter Pan, the mantra of the Lost Boys was, “II never want to grow up.”
The realization one comes to in reading young adult stories is that we never do.