Did you see Caitlin Flanagan’s article about Twilight in this month’s Atlantic?
I’ve been reading The Atlantic for several years now, but I didn’t know I had much in common with Flanagan until she confessed that she hates YA novels because they “bore” her. Well, me too. Ok, yes, there are a few that I’ve been reading and rereading since childhood. But in terms of picking up new ones, now, as an adult, that I didn’t first read as a kid… nope. Can’t do it. Am hard pressed to think of any kids’ books I’ve enjoyed as an adult. Oh, The Lightning Thief! I did like that one. And the first Children of the Lamp book wasn’t bad either. But I couldn’t finish Inkheart even when my own son gave it to me as a gift. Harry Potter? No thanks. And in fact (here’s where Caitlin and I disagree) I didn’t even particularly like Twilight. Oh, it held my interest enough that I did manage to finish it, but… meh.
Oh hell, I sound like such a curmudgeon. Could be I’m reading the wrong kind of books. Lena subsists on a steady diet of fantasy, especially all those animal fantasies like that series about cats and that other series about owls. If there is a genre that I categorically can’t stand it’s Books With Talking Animals As Protagonists. Also, I know I’m not being very careful about distinguishing between children’s books and YA, if that distinction even matters. Anyway, maybe I’m reading the wrong kind of books… or maybe it’s just that I’m a grownup.
The salient fact of an adolescent girl’s existence is her need for a secret emotional life — one that she slips into during her sulks and silences, during her endless hours alone in her room, or even just when she’s gazing out the classroom window while all of Modern European History, or the niceties of the passé composé, sluice past her. This means that she is a creature designed for reading in a way no boy or man, or even grown woman, could ever be so exactly designed, because she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs — to be undisturbed while she works out the big questions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others — are met precisely by the act of reading.