Day Seven: Literary Identity Crisis

At last! Before leaving my hometown after my mother’s rousing birthday adventures, I managed to get my hands on her library card and spent a good portion of my morning raking through its treasures.

I’ll admit, at first I was a bit worried about entering what bold faced signs around that mysterious corner of the library, hidden somewhere past the tedium of Reference, dubbed “Teen Section. Teens ONLY!” But at last I found that partially concealed portal somewhere between two angular shelves and a support beam, and slipped into the hazardous world beyond. I feared I would never make it out alive and, after a small avalanche of Seventeen Magazines, I almost didn’t.

Now, I am not particularly old, by any means. I’m a solid 23 years of age. Only four years out of teen-dom. Yet, I have absolutely no idea how anyone can manage to pick even a single book out amongst the Young Adult shelves. So, after scurrying around this deserted corridor into what was largely made of thick supernatural (emphasis on the Vampire here) novels, they all kind of began to mold into two basic categories:

1) Books for Teenaged Girls. This consists of your prototypical forbidden “no one understands me” forbidden romance, typically distinguished by it’s overly gothic script that’s nearly impossible to read and the word LOVE written at least thirteen times on the cover alone. I was once, not too long ago, a teenage girl. To this day I still don’t understand why all of these novel encourage young girls to “find their soul mates” at age 15. I did not find my soul mate at 15, and I wouldn’t trade a day of the eight years between then and now that I got to explore the world without worrying about the safety or well-being of another person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure love when you’re a teenager seems cataclysmic and destined (as all things do at that age), but surely, there is something else young girls think is worth living for?

2Books for Teenaged Boys. Is it weird that I was naturally more drawn to these books even though I’m a girl? Although, I’ll admit, there was a pretty clear opening path that all of these books started out with. Boy doesn’t fit in, figures out he has some sort of special power, learns to use that power all while kicking serious ass. I love this general theme. I was undoubtably an outcast as a teenager. There’s a reason why I only have one friend remaining from that period of my life. But… with so many books verging on the same opening summary… I was finding it hard to pick any. I’m sure they’re all very different (for even my own work could boil down to that same opening theme, but I couldn’t find a book on those shelves with the same real idea), but they have the same covers, the same general cast of characters, the same rhetorical questions to grab your attention. How do these books set themselves apart?

So, in keeping with my rather thorough research, I rented as many of these books as I could. And then I went to Juvenile fiction and did the same.

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So… how did I do? (I’ve already started Percy Jackson and am already a third of the way through. It’s going well!)

I’m not entirely sure where the line is between Young Adult and Juvenile fiction, but I intend to find out (because, clearly, I’ll be toeing that line quite a bit). All I do know is that Juvenile Fiction seemed to consist of a lot more of that second category of Young Adult than it did the first. And Juvenile seemed to have a lot more kick-ass girls and a lot less icky love stuff. Is that the difference? Young Adult is Juvenile Fiction with a love interest? Throw in series that these kids grow up in (Harry Potter being of course the most obvious and a crowd/personal favorite) and I think we have ourselves a bit of a gray area.

I don’t know where I belong in this world and I’ve spent 23 years learning to be ok with that, but learning today that I don’t know where my book belongs… I think I may be having a bit of an identity crisis…

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