leap for Simba the Lion
King, dancing through town.
Lorie Ann Grover, 2009
So, what can be found in the teen novel not found in an adult work? Nothing, aside from a guarantee of hope in some measure, even if it's small. At least today, I still find this to be true. Otherwise, there will be the same literary merit, engaging plot, and credible characters. There will be the same value.At ALA, Libba Bray was recently telling me about her book tour in Germany where she found YA and adult works esteemed equally. I am hopeful we might reach this conclusion in the states. Let writers craft their stories and people from all walks find the words, regardless of age or place in life.
Authors can write of cultures and lifestyles beyond their experience, or we'd have no sci-fi fantasy, right? The challenge is to be faithful in full research and revelation. Red Glass is an excellent example of Laura Resau bringing to light a culture not her own. I also think of Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains, and Patricia McCormick's Sold. Why would we ever inhibit storytellers who have a burden to share truth, even if the story doesn't spring from their own immediate life experience?
Concerning publishers, initially, maybe the books aren't placed as quickly because of sales concern. In truth, there might not be broad sales at first as the experiences are foreign to American teens. Hopefully though, the books are published, purchased, and read, with connections made through shared desires and emotions. Is it the library market that feeds the groundswell until the books can crossover to the stores, maybe? I have to believe there are dedicated middle grade and YA editors out there who will bring these stories to light for the love of truth, regardless of questionable sales. I'm hoping to place one now myself!As to characters resonating through my life from different places than my own, I have to say: Djo from Frances Temple's Taste of Salt, Liesel from Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Junior from Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or how about Devon Hope from Nikki Grimes' Bronx Masquerade? My list could go on and on. These are characters who wanted the very same things I do and just happened to be reaching for them in a different place. Their courage empowers me. There are so many examples, and for that, I am thankful.