Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post by Henry Circle

I am so excited to have Henry Circle join the blog today with some thoughts on books and why we readers love the genre(s) we do. Thanks Henry!

"My First Time" By Henry Circle

Today, I was thinking about, you know, my first time. The first one I held in my hand was skinny, not impressive in size. I was only 12 years old. I was scared to touch it, my first YA book, I mean!

I had always been what they call an avid reader, spending my recess time in the library when allowed. It was the books with juicy plots, real emotion, real problems, real cojones that pulled me in. The favorite author from my picture book days was Bill Peete whose animal characters suffered because of environmental woes or human cruelty. Then, Judy Blume chapter books with her mischievous, eye-rolling children. But when I turned twelve, I wanted to read about teenagers with cars, boyfriends and drama. The only thing I could find geared toward teens was Sweet Valley High. And it was awful. The kind of overly-moral, sugary stuff that you could tell was written by a middle-aged church lady. Out of desperation to read about young people really living and having adventures, I had my mom check out books from the adult section for me. This is how I ended up reading Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in elementary school. Luckily, it was a little over my head.

Jonathon Knight

One day, while perusing my newest issue of Tiger Beat, which was like my Bible at that time, I read that New Kids On the Block's super cool Jon Knight said his favorite book was I am the Cheese by Robert Comier. I had never heard of it. On the next family trip to the library, I pulled the card for it from the card catalog. (Yes, it used actual cards back then!) The card said "Young Adult Section." I was afraid. I'd seen that tiny, dusty shelf in the corner of the library. And to mean "adult" meant  sex stuff, which even at 12 I was eager to read about, but what would the librarian say? She might chastise me and think me a horn dog. But if Jon Knight said it was a good book, I had to get it. And it was a good book. Not Sweet Valley High with its innocent twins or sterile Nancy Drew or The Baby Sitters Club with their ridiculously trite problems. This was a novel about a boy who lost everything, including his mind. It was dark; it was gritty; it was brilliant. Who could go back to Judy Blume after that?

My love affair with YA grew more passionate as Grunge hit, and popular themes in fiction became heroin addiction, suicidal thoughts, mental instability and bad relationships. After years of sugar-coated fluff, it was a dark, stormy paradise. Now, YA covers every kind of theme, style and genre. It is a smorgasbord for a lover of teen lit like me, and it all began with the "Cheese." And I'll never forget that because, as they say, you never forget your first.

Henry Circle is the author of the YA series, The Homeschoolers. She is a Mississippi native, a freelance writer, a sometime hermit and a most times loud mouth.

1 comment :

  1. I read very little YA when I was a teenager. Though I loved The Girls Of Canby Hall series that was kinda like Facts Of Life and a book called The Ghosts Of Departure Point.

    By the time I was in junior high, I was reading Anne Rice and Victoria Holt.