In the past couple of weeks, I have read two excellent novels. Both of these books have teen-age protagonists. Both of these books are coming-of-age books that deal with the struggles of growing up and that awkward place between adolescents and young adulthood. Both books are published by Random House (LOVE). However, both of these books are published by ADULT imprints. Isn't that interesting? So the recommendations I've read and received on both of these books have been largely from the adult arena. Yet these books are both entirely YA in nature. I would never have categorized either one of them as adult.
The first book I read, THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker, is a stunning dystopian story of the end of the world. On weeks like this one, with daily record-breaking temperatures, it seems like it is in the not-so-distant future. The earth slows down, the days get longer, the nights get longer, the birds begin to fall from the sky, and our dear protagonist has a crush. Yes, even as the world comes to an end, adolescent angst lives on. The first two lines of the novel, "We didn't notice it right away. We couldn't feel it." could describe the slowing of the earth or the beginning of adolescence, and so goes this lovely story. The protag comes of age as the earth deteriorates. The characters have new beginnings even as the end of the earth is, quite literally, on the horizon. I feel sure young people everywhere will find their way to THE AGE OF MIRACLES even though it is published as an 'adult' novel. It is too perfect to slip through the cracks, and the good news is, this story will find adults, as well. It has something for everyone. I highly recommend THE AGE OF MIRACLES, whether you are on the brink of adolescence or, well, the end of the world.
The second book I read, TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt was also published as an adult novel, but, again, the protagonist is a young person. June adores her Uncle Finn, who dies of AIDS early in the story. June is devastated. Then, she discovers that there are things about him she didn't know, things her mother hid, including his partner. June's mother hates the man who 'killed her uncle' and so June finds out about him accidentally. As she pines for the loss of her uncle, she honors his memory by caring for his lover, Toby, who has no other family. Her jealous older sister, Greta, and busy working parents (accountants in tax season, conveniently minimizing their role in the story) have no idea that June is stealing away afternoons with Toby until things come to a frightening climax one stormy night. TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME is a beautiful, touching story about a compassionate young lady who sees what is really important in the world in spite of her parents' judgement. Even has she gets in big trouble, infuriates her sister, and dismisses kids her own age, you will cheer for sweet June as she follows her heart and acts with great courage and character. I LOVED this story, and I highly recommend it.
So here are two books narrated by young people by marketed to adults. Not exclusively to adults, mind you, and I am certain that teen-agers will read both these books. So is this a trend to widen the YA/MG market? Are the adult booksellers trying to get a piece of the lucrative YA pie? Or are we simply blessing more people with these wonderful stories? Read the books yourself, and tell me what you think.
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I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.