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Monday, August 16, 2010

Grown-ups who love young adult books

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 Hello dear readers!

I had a fabulous evening with a "grown-up" book club last week.  They read The Indigo Notebook and invited me to talk about the book and join in their discussion.  So much fun!  I love hearing readers talk about what was most memorable for them, what made them think, which characters they connected with, what scenes gave them a lump in their throats... This feedback gives me fuel for writing the third book-- The Jade Notebook. Knowing that readers feel attached to Layla and Zeeta and Wendell-- that these characters live on beyond the end of the book in readers' minds-- that is HUGE inspiration for me to finish Jade.  (Um, of course, there's that little thing called a legally-binding contract, too, but the real push for me to write the book comes from the enthusiasm of readers.)  So thank you!!  And thank you to these ladies for the delectable appetizers (another perk of these book club meetings!)


Sally outdid herself with these yummy alfajores cookies-- a specialty in the Andes.... they melt in your mouth!  I've eaten these in bakeries in Otavalo... mmm... great memories.


I visit with several adult book clubs each year, usually in the Fort Collins area.  There was an essay by Pamela Paul in the NY Times Book Review last week about the popularity of young adult books among adults. Here's an interesting statistic: 47 % of 18 to 24-year-old women  and 24% of same-aged men buy mostly young adult books.  Nearly one in five 35 to 44-year-olds buy mostly YA books for themselves.  I've noticed that about half my reader mail is from adults... and I see I'm not alone!

The quotes from people in the book industry echo what I've heard from adult readers of my books and other YA books.  I'll give you a smattering of some of the quotes I appreciated:

"A lot of adult literature is all art and no heart... but good YA is like good television.  There's a freshness there; it's engaging.  YA authors aren't writing about middle-aged anomie or disappointed people." -- Amanda Foreman, historian

"A lot of contemporary adult literature is characterized by a real distrust of plot... I think young adult fiction is one of the few areas of literature right now where storytelling really thrives." -- Lev Grossman, book critic


"There's an immediacy in the prose [of YA books]... I like the way adolescent emotions are rawer, less canned... There's a timelessness to the period [of early teenagehood].  These books are far from you, yet are also the same as you." -- Darcy Steinke, novelist


"When you talk to people about the books that have meant a lot to them, it's usually books they read when they were younger because the books have this wonder in everyday things that isn't bogged down by excessively grown-up concerns or the need to be subtle or coy... when you read these books as an adult, it tends to bring back the sense of newness and discovery that I tend not to get from adult fiction." -- Jesse Sheidlower, editor

(Hi-- me again!)  I agree with all those quotes.  I am often asked why I've chosen to write YA instead of adult books.  My answer is usually that the books that had the biggest effect on how I understood myself and life and the possibilities of existence were books I read as a young teen (like A Wrinkle in Time and Tuck Everlasting, to name just two.)

So, apart from writing Jade and perusing the NY Times, I've been doing fun summertime things...

discovering weird insects on mountain-river hikes with Ian and Little Dude...


not to mention elegant flowers...


 and little butterflies..


and rainbows (since we live near the mountains, we often have magical multiple rainbows during sunny afternoon rainshowers)...


Hope you're having a whimsical summer... Thanks for reading!

xoxo
Laura

Check out Sally's cool hat she got in Peru years ago!