Peter Pan Syndrome

I’m not sure why I write YA.  Well, I guess it was bound to happen since I was surrounded by teenagers all day, five days a week for five years and their spirits, thoughts, conversation, laughter, and anxieties were intertwined with my own, but writing YA was not intentional.  Neither was becoming a writer.

But as they say, “everything happens for a reason.”  I just know that when I picked up my ink pen on Friday, November 1, 2002, my characters were high school students.  I didn’t question it, rethink it, or attempt to change them; I just went with their flow.  I wrote what I knew.  Having been a teenager and worked with them, I know teenagers quite well.

And by now, if you’ve read my bio on my website or read some of my blog entries, you know that I grew up reading Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, and Judy Blume as well as several other authors who write for young adults.  Blah cubed.  That’s blah blah blah for the math challenged.

This morning I woke up and came across an interesting blog by Liz B. over at Tea Cozy where she is referencing a blog by a children’s book reviewer at Horn Books by Roger Sutton.  In his blog Roger states, “As annoying as adults who dismiss children’s books as unworthy of attention can be, I also feel my jaw clench when a fellow adult tells me that he or she prefers children’s books to adult books because they have better writing or values or stories. This is just sentimental ignorance. . . Whatever whoever chooses to read is their business, of course, but adults whose taste in recreational reading ends with the YA novel need to grow up.”

I read Tea Cozy first before I left the house for work and read Roger’s words once I made it to work so my views have adjusted slightly.  Mr. Sutton, while my recreational reading spans a wide spectrum, I still take offense at you calling people sentimentally ignorant because of their reading preference.

Anyone who knows me knows that my reading tastes are pretty diverse.  I love to read a good book period.  Whatever appeals to me, I am going to read it.  If you look at my shelf of 742 books on Shelfari, you can see that.  Some of the reads are from college, i.e. James Joyce’s The Dead and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, but my shelf includes chick lit, African American fiction and non-fiction, biographies, young adult, middle grade, Dr. Seuss, and books on self-publishing.

In the past two weeks, I’ve read The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston (YA and a great read, very self-empowering for young adults), Klepto by Jenny Pollack (YA title set in the 80s which was also enjoyable), and Faith Under Fire by LaJoyce Brookshire (a memoir about a woman who discovers her husband has AIDS, the most emotional and powerful book I’ve read this year).

     

When I was teaching, I was recommended books by Sharon Draper and Rita Williams-Garcia to share with my students outside of the books typically found in the curriculum like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  I enjoyed their books and I began to read on the rare occasion more books in the YA subgenre.

Now that my book is on the shelves with other YA authors, I am frequently seen in the YA section reading YA books.  There are some really good books there, y’all!  Using my mother as an example, when she was agr teen there wasn’t any YA written for Black teens so she missed out completely.  I had a few here and there to read thanks to Sharon Bell Mathis, Mildred Taylor and Walter Dean Myers.  As I mentioned in my Brown Bookshelf interview with Rita Williams-Garcia, I was 13 when her debut title Blue Tights came out that I am finally about to read as a 32.5 year old, lol.

And let’s face it, YA is a hot trend right now.  Harry Potter came on the scene and so many adults I know read it like it is the new Jackie Collins or Stephen King.  YA books are becoming movies.  I typically read the book first and then see the movie when it comes out.  FYI:  The book is always better.  Always.  Over the past decade, we’ve seen books like Louis Sachar’s Holes, Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries hit the big screen to very welcoming audiences, adults and kids. And of course, Gossip Girl has metamorphosed from book into a TV show on the CW.  I’m hoping one day that list will include more books written by Af Am authors becoming movies, but that’s another blog for another day.

There is nothing wrong with adults reading young adult fiction, middle grade books, or picture books.  Read something is all I ask of you.  Read what makes you happy.  Sure, as authors we have a target audience, but if our words connect with you, goal accomplished.  It’s a win-win for reader and writer alike.

This is just my 2 cents.

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2 Responses to “Peter Pan Syndrome”

  1. bethfehlbaum Says:

    Hi, Carla, I like your blog. I am Beth Fehlbaum, also a YA fiction author. My debut novel, Courage in Patience, releases in Sept. from Kunati Books. The thing that made me become a YA author was, like you, I am a teacher. I teach fifth grade now but for most of my career I taught seventh & eighth grades, so I had the experience of having teens in my life, in addition to having my own children. But what really inspired me was reading Chris Crutcher’s book, STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES. I just happened to find it on my daughter’s book shelf when I was looking for something to read on the treadmill. I was hooked; from there I read Chris’ book, IRONMAN (also on my daughter’s shelf), and I came away with the “knowing” that there was an audience for the stories I had inside of me. Courage in Patience is about a fifteen year old girl’s initial steps into recovery from being sexually abused by her stepfather since the age of nine. When the protagonist, Ashley, finally gets brave enough to tell her mother what’s been going on, her mother brushes it off and turns her back on Ashley. I hope you (and your readers) will stop by my website and check out a synopsis! And, thanks, again, for a cool blog entry. I enjoyed it.
    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    http://courageinpatience.blogspot.com
    beth@bethfehlbaum.com

  2. carlasarratt Says:

    Beth,

    Thanks for stopping by! I had to chuckle at you grabbing a book to read on the treadmill because I do the same thing. I like the premise of your book and will be sure to stop by and read the synopsis. Congratulations on publication!

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