Finding Friends in Fiction

Written by Grant Goodman, 5/14/2015

For many of us, writing comes from frustration and disappointment. We don’t like what our world has to offer. We are haunted by past decisions. We look back at our ever-growing pile of mistakes and wish that somehow we could make them into something better.

I think that many YA authors still remember those scars and, with the perspective that comes with adulthood, they recognize how universal those growing pains are. I really, really wish that more people were like our YA authors. I think that far too often adults overlook the importance of empathy. Yes, it is easy to look at the problems that teens face and outright dismiss them. But that totally misses the point.

This is why good YA lit is absolutely vital. We need stories out there that offer a window into teenage life that teens themselves can recognize as authentic. One of the biggest crises of my youth was thinking that no one else understood what I was going through, not even my friends.

I found friends in fiction, Holden Caulfield, Ender Wiggins and Harry Potter standing at the lead of the pack.

I didn’t have a rich YA landscape, though. I had already jumped into Dragonlance and Stephen King which mostly featured adults.

I’m curious: who are the YA characters you have found yourself identifying with?

VIDEO: John Green Discusses Romeo and Juliet

If you haven’t seen Crash Course, you are missing out. John Green–you know, the guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking For Alaska–dishes out some great talks about the greatest literature in human history.

I’ve been teaching Shakespeare in school, so his talk on Romeo and Juliet really hit the spot:

My First Novel is Out!!!!!

Hello, readers!

My very first novel, AGENT DARCY AND NINJA STEVE IN…TIGER TROUBLE! is now available on Amazon! It’s available in paperback and on Kindle.

It’s a story about secret agents, ninjas, robots, and ghosts. So if you understand that spin kicks, spy tech, and ghosts are awesome, then this is the book for you, no matter how old you are!

SEAL OF APPROVAL: DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier

Seal of Approval: DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier

Written by Grant Goodman, 4/29/2015

Raina’s first graphic novel, SMILE, is one of the most popular books in my classroom library. I have had two copies fall apart from being read so many times. When I saw her speak at the National Book Festival in DC two years ago, she did an amazing job of connecting with the audience and even invited some of the younger ones to help her in creating a comic on the stage. An all-around A+ person!

DRAMA has been out for a little while, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this week. It has all of the successful pieces that made SMILE so enjoyable:

  1. The main character is a girl who is trying to find her place in school. In this case, Callie is a member of the drama production team at her school, helping out with set design.
  2. Her issues are the everyday issues that teens run into. She’s got a crush on a guy who already has a girlfriend. Her little brother is annoying. The drama budget doesn’t allow her to make the stage props she dreams of making. She’s wondering if someone will ask her to go to the school dance.
  3. The art is clean, colorful, and clearly emotive.

At its heart, DRAMA is about a cast of young people learning about who they are. Cassie has her heart set on being a part of the arts. One of the boys she meets has realized that he likes other boys. It’s all about identity.

DRAMA is an all-around winner of a graphic novel. Add it to your shelves immediately.