This is the seventh installment in a set of blog posts about my current science fiction series. The first book, THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA, is now available in paperback. The sequel, READING THE WIND, came out on July 22ndin hardback. Each post explores one way the books address problems that also affect us now, will affect us in the future. I hope you enjoy this one: Coming of Age
The SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA and READING THE WIND are half of the story arc telling how Chelo, Joseph, and their friends grow up (there are four books planned in the series). Although these books appear on the regular science fiction shelves instead of the YA shelves, SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA was recommended by Booklist as one of the top ten adult books for youth to read. I get emails from readers who seem to be all ages. The fabulously successful Harry Potter series is a very long and magical coming of age fantasy story, and it too appealed to a lot of adults as well as children. I loved them. We went to the midnight parties at our local bookstore and got them as fast we could.
For me, reading about becoming is valuable in two ways:
One: I can look back and think “what if” about myself. I’m in my forties now, and even though that’s not old anymore, some of the core decisions in my life have been made. I won’t be going to Hogwarts. But I can always fantasize about having been faced with bigger and scarier decisions than I really had to make, and imagine how I might have done in the face of deatheaters or paw-cats. Besides, I’d love to be young again, to have every choice possibel still in front of me. Reading young protagonsists lets me be that way again, for at least a little while.
Two: I’m a manager and a parent. That means I’m interested in what makes people reach to do their best. What makes teenagers look outside themselves and see a greater good? How does the struggle against authority make them stronger adults? Think about all of us who were children of the sixties and the seventies, and became the business leaders. Most of us are “greener” than our predecessors, and more flexible. The millennials coming up behind us appear to be even more willing to accept a rapidly changing world, and to recognize that they have responsibility to leave it better than they found it. How have we adult baby-boomers helped or hurt them? I’m pretty sure we’ve done some of both.
This sweet spot that appeals to youth and adults alike is pretty big. When I was a teenager, I shopped the regular science fiction shelves and bought books by Heinlein and Clarke, a well as everything Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey wrote. Books about wonder and awe, and the future we might have. Books with adventure in them. I like it to read books and know I’ll be entertained without being horrified, and if there’s sex and violence, it will be part of the story and not dwelled on in too detailed a way. But the books may still address serious topics, and require a reader to stretch. You don’t have to write down to youth, and you do have to tell a good story with people they care about. So let’s hear it for books about growing up.
If you like to read this kind of story, too, why?