Have you read Wintergirls? Speak? Any of Laurie Halse Anderson’s other YA novels? If you have, then you’re going to understand immediately what I’ll be talking about in this post. If you haven’t yet, well go ahead and read the post, then head out and pick up one of Laurie’s books.
For me, Laurie Halse Anderson epitomizes the courage of young-adult novels and young-adult writers. And I’m not talking about the courage of defending her books, of facing arguments about whether or not kids should be reading them. I’m talking about the courage to write the stories in the first place.
Laurie’s books consistently blow me away. They’re not easy books for me, a reader who often builds her to-read pile out of humor and fantasy and escapism, to pick up. They’re not easy books for me to turn to Page 1 in. I don’t leave the real world when I read Laurie’s books, I’m thrust sharply and deeply into it. With a grace and strength of writing I haven’t found many other places.
I read Laurie’s books for two reasons.
First, I read Laurie’s books because I know that I will be caught up in a story that doesn’t let me go, one that–even as it makes me face unpleasant truths—takes me along for such a ride that I don’t want to get off. Laurie takes on hard topics in her stories, topics people often call issues, but she never fails to weave those topics into a tight, fast, plot with complex, painfully believable characters. The amount of research Laurie must do for her books, I can’t even begin to fathom, but the facts of her research never jump out as facts; they merge seamlessly into the main character’s life–her problems, choices, and actions.
That’s the first reason I read Laurie’s books.
The second reason is that Laurie reminds me, as a writer, what I want to strive for. I’ll be honest. I don’t know that I will ever choose a subject matter that has a pain at its heart as strong as Laurie chooses. I don’t know that I will want to or be able to. And that’s okay. Reading Laurie’s books, however, reminds me that I do want to tell whatever story I choose with as much honesty and truth as I possibly can. I want to do this for myself, as that writer, and for the teens who I hope will read my books. Laurie reminds me, with every word she writes, that truth is what those teens deserve.
I appreciate both reasons equally.
A few more Author Appreciation posts for you to browse:
- A Blog about Nothing on Lois Lowry
- Frenetic Reader on Courtney Summers
- Mindful Musings on Cassandra Clare
Thanks to Sara at Novel Novice for the avatar!