So, Jessi and L.A. invited me to hang in the Book Cove this week. Check it out here: buff.ly/1DiN1LS. It was very cool. I appreciated the chance to write a guest post on their site. What I like around the Cove is a bunch of blogs and reviews of writers writing and doing what they love to write and do. That works for life same as art, no? Whatever your thing is. And around the Book Cove you find a lot of love for NA and YA books.
While I was there, I did a blog about how “adults” reading “kidlit” is somehow now a thing. Lots of bloggers and trad-media-types speculate as to why so-called grown-ups (or anybody older than thirteen, basically) are all over some of the big books of the last few years that feature teen protagonists: the "Hunger Games," the "Harry Potters," The
"Maze Runners", the "Divergent" et al.
Or why mags that no Millennial ever reads, like TIME, continue to proclaim the “golden age of young-adult literature” and generate their top-100 lists of YA fiction, new and old, featuring books that we already know are great.
I mean, is there really an issue around who is reading any good book, regardless their age? Or, who wouldn’t think that "A Wrinkle in Time" or "The Outsiders" was going to stay on your “love it” book list, whether you’re nineteen or forty-nine? But okay, let’s say that for whatever reason—the internet, the movies, the helicopter engagement of parents reading these books to their kids and falling for them, themselves—there is a cultural shift in the fascination with and commercial popularity of YA novels for all ages right now, a “golden-age” as they said. What then?
As anybody knows who checks me out, or who has peeked at my new book "On the Move," I skate. I’m not eleven, although I did skate when I was eleven and I’m still friends with some of the guys I hung with at my local skatepark back then. Like the boys in my novels, I connected with certain great buddies and had some mad fun adventures in and around the Southern California skate culture. Then like now it was something I loved doing—skating still involves being outside, hanging with people I enjoy, and challenging myself to skills and activities that (sometimes) even make me stronger or healthier. (Sometimes I crash and burn—that, however, is another story altogether!)
Same with the guys I play music with. I have teachers and band mates and former frat brothers who all like to jam—some professionals, some who play in top groups or others who keep performances to just around the basement. It’s the same notes, the same horn, the same axe as I picked up when I was eight, fourteen, twenty-two-years-old so why wouldn’t I keep going back to how I feel and what I do and how great it is to be in the hang with my buddies doing something awesome? Nobody said my trumpet permit expired when I graduated high school jazz band, right?
Same with YA books. The good ones have always been forever. Maybe there are just more good ones now.
For most readers and writers of YA books, there are a set of big feelings that connect to reading our favorites, whether the first time we “meet” a certain book was as a tween or much later. We always remember the first time we read the powerful, funny, teary, romantic, eye-opening books like "The Book Thief" or "Charlotte’s Web" or "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." Yeah, not every YA/MG book you read rocks your world but the best of them, the ones that stay with you, open your eyes and your heart… even "Captain Underpants!" What’s better than to just crack up sometimes, right?
So, to me, like to Meg Wolitzer who tapped in to the powerful emotional memory of her first reading of "The Bell Jar" as a teen in order to tackle her writing of "Belzha"r decades later, there is all of this “leftover feeling” from our encounters with YA lit, at whatever age we read it. And like picking your pleasure reading or playing music or skating or writing or whatever you do as you “grow up” and define yourself as an adult of tastes and desires and experiences and activities, you’re going to tap back in to that feeling, seek it out, rock it as many ways as you can, alone or in groups, in work or at play.
How lucky are we, that just curling up with a new YA novel or an old favorite on a crappy afternoon in a comfortable chair can touch us back and raise us up through the affecting, transforming, intense and universal feelings that they bring to us all?
Read well. Skate on.
And if you haven’t already, please check out On the Move, a new YA/older-MG novel set in Southern California about a 14-year-old skater named Callum Vicente. He and his middle school skateboard buddies are spending the best summer together ever, grinding and doing tricks all day at a mountain-top skate camp called PEAK. But when a major war breaks out, they’re stranded—separated from their parents, cut off from communications, and almost alone in an evacuated state. They use their wits and resources, along with a secret network of skate parks and message boards, to travel miles to the north and reach their families in the Safe Camps—skating all the way!
It’s full of skating, yes, and multi-cultural kids who pick up on a cool underground network of retro tech, green living, secret clues, and skater support like no other you’ve read about before. It has some scary stuff, and definitely shows how easy it can be to let aggression and tempers get out of hand, leading to the devastation and destruction that we see in On the Move. But it has a hopeful message: kids are great, smart, resourceful, thoughtful, funny, loyal, compassionate, energetic. They know how to do the right thing, and will stand by their friends no matter what.
Where can you find it? Here’s a few ideas!
Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/TTJ7Pu
Amazon Australia: http://goo.gl/stT9QR
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/KuY8EI
And to find me, if you’re a fan of indie writing or skating, I post about that on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OnTheMoveBooks
Watch for the next book in my trilogy, in 2015!