The first thing I noticed about this textbook was its voice. I've had the dubious pleasure of having to read library science textbooks and most of them are dryer than the Sahara desert. This dusty tombs are written without expression and lack any semblance of life.
That is not the case with Young Adult Literature : From Romance to Realism by Michael Cart. It is engaging, smart, and uses an almost unhealthy number of exclamation points. The first three chapters take us from 60s through the 80s and talks about the major stories of that time. It was interesting to see what these stories meant to the people of that time.
Outsiders by S. E Hinton
This is one of those books that defined an era. Until this class, I had never read it. It paints a dark picture of life in the slums of New York. The story was compelling. What I didn't know until later was that S.E. Hinton wrote it when she was a teenager. This is not a light book. I was struck by the stark reality of the character's lives. Despite its grim look, it had its moments of levity as Pony Boy struggled to survive an often violent world.
I don't know if I would have liked this as a teen or not. As an adult, and writer, I see things significantly differently than when I was younger. I think I would have had a hard time with how the Socs (the "c" is pronounced "sh") treated the Greasers. It's a story of haves and have nots and despite the tragedy of their lives, Pony Boy still manages to dream of a better life.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
I know that I was supposed to read a book I hadn't read before, I still decided to revisit a book I considered to be one of my hated for most of my life. Despite my hatred, this book changed me. The phrase "Dare I Disturb the Universe?" was one that has stuck with me for years.
The first time I read this, I was a teenager. My life was broken. I was broken. I immediately associated with Jerry and the pain of his existence and his struggle to fight the oppression of the various bullies in his life. I'll be honest, when I was younger, I couldn't handle it. I didn't understand what Cormier was doing and I hated the book. It reminded me too much of my own feelings of hopelessness.
So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this book. It is amazing what a change it was. It was like I was reading it for the first time, but without the mental baggage of my own experiences clouding it. I loved this book. I didn't see Jerry as the helpless victim. He was heroic and stood up for what he believed. The ending, though still gut-churning, didn't affect me the same way it did when I was a child.
Forever by Judy Blume
I don't think I've ever read Judy Blume before today. I remember seeing Super Fudge when I was a kid, but don't remember actually reading it. I didn't really enjoy this book. I had a hard time becoming emotionally involved in this character's life. I don't think I would have enjoyed this story as a child. I know I didn't get it as an adult. The entire time I was reading this, I thought of all the ways I would have written it to make it better. I didn't believe the relationship and to be honest, I felt the whole thing was shallow. As a writer, I was frustrated by the plot and all the "telling" that muddled what could have been a really impactful story.
Maybe I just expect more from a story these days. It has nothing to do with the genre. I don't judge genre. I would rather read Dear Cassie
by Lisa Burstein.
Rebel Without a Cause
I've always wanted to watch this movie. This is one of the movies that, like the Outsiders, defined a time. It was interesting to watch this and compare it to the Outsides. Whereas the Outsiders focused entirely on the Greasers, Rebel Without a Cause focused on the other side, the Socs.
There were a lot of common themes between both of them. Despite the socio-economic differences, both Pony Boy and Jim Stark struggled with the often violent world around them. Both stories show the tragedy of life as an American teen in the 1950s. I would have enjoyed this movie as a teen and I certainly enjoyed it as an adult.
Pretty in Pink
I was going to watch Rumble Fish (which I've never seen), but never got around to it, so I'll talk about Pretty in Pink (which I've watched several times) a bit. Pretty in Pink continues the theme of Haves and Have Nots and struggling with growing up as an American teen. Like Forever, it focuses on first love rather than struggling to survive in a violent world.
Pretty in Pink is a lighthearted, funny story. I have watched it several times growing up and I enjoy it every time. Even though the styles and technology are very dated, it is one of those movies that survives. It touches on serious topics, but the story is focused on a young girl falling in love for the first time. It's about breaking out of social boundaries to be with the one you love.