Ah summer. School is out, the sun is bright, and everyone is hanging poolside. Can't you just smell those hot dogs and burgers on the grill? And feel the sunscreen sticky on your skin?
Okay, summertime can be wonderful and idyllic, but if you're like us, then there's probably a healthy dose of chaos mixed in there too. Road trips, friends and family in town for a visit, selling your house and moving to a new country...
(Oh, maybe that last one only applies to Sarah. :P)
Since things are a bit hectic here at We Heart YA headquarters, we're going to skip the discussion post this week and have a little fun. A little book party, to be specific, and you guys are all invited!
To win one of these great prize packs, just leave a comment and let us know how your summer is going. (Also let us know if you are interested in winning A, B, or either one.) It's that simple! Winner will be announced at the beginning of August.
Prize Pack A:
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
SEVERED HEADS, BROKEN HEARTS by Robyn Schneider
THE KISSING BOOTH by Beth Reekles
Prize Pack B:
THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken
THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider
NEVER LET YOU GO by Emma Carlson Berne
(The only catch is that you must have a US mailing address. Sorry to all our lovely international friends!)
All right, now let's all get back to
a brilliant commencement speech at Wesleyan, and in it he talked about embracing the contradictions within ourselves.
(Bold emphasis added by me.)
You have, which is a rare thing, the ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself. To at least give it the floor. Because it is the key, not only to consciousness, but to real growth.
To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just “who you are,” it is a process that you must be active in.
And it’s not parroting your parents or even the thoughts of your learned teachers, it is, now more than ever, about understanding yourself so you can become yourself.
To me, that is so much of what Young Adult literature is about. The protagonists are not just learning who they are, but deciding it. Making their own identity. Shaping themselves out of the clay that they've been given.
I think that's why people of all ages like to read YA lit. Because we're all doing that too. Every day, we're figuring out who we are, and how to become who we want to be.
So here's my/Joss Whedon's advice: Make your shape complex. Don't be a cube, don't be a sphere, don't be a pyramid. Give yourself curves and angles, nooks and crannies, breadth and depth. Don't worry about whether it's good or bad, pretty or ugly, normal or weird. Just embrace the unique combinations that you come up with.
Writers, this goes for your characters, too!
Good, or bad. Black, or white. Blue, or red.
We’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. The way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and to see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that—in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given away to shouting and bullying—the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing a debate. Because it means you’ve learned something and you’ve changed your position.
That's what story and plot are all about. You put a character into a situation, and in order to get through that situation, they have to face themselves, question themselves, accept themselves. They have to stand strong when they're right, and back down when they're wrong. They have to grow and change.
A few examples of YA protagonists who cannot be easily categorized as "good" or "bad":
Mackenzie in THE ARCHIVED - She became a Keeper at a very young age, "shelving" dead spirits for the greater good. She considers her responsibility noble and important, and she prides herself in doing her job well. But she also breaks rules, and keeps secrets, and betrays people who she loves.
Quintana in the Lumatere Chronicles - She is frigid and unmannered. She is vicious and wild. She is sensitive and afraid. Due to the traumatic nature of her childhood, Quintana fractured into several distinct personalities, and over the course of FROI OF THE EXILES and QUINTANA OF CHARYN, she has to learn to accept them all. (More importantly, so do the people around her.)
Alina in SHADOW AND BONE - Initially a plain and unskilled orphan, Alina discovers that she has incredible supernatural abilities, which could help save her country. And yet, becoming powerful doesn't erase her past. Nor does it necessarily determine her future. How Alina chooses to wield her new powers will be influenced by the person she was, and will have a huge impact on the person she turns into.
The complexity of these heroines is what makes them interesting. It's what makes us eager to read 300+ pages about them. It's what makes fiction seem real.
The same goes for antagonists too! (And all characters, really.) Snape in HARRY POTTER, the Darkling in SHADOW AND BONE, the White Wolf in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE -- these guys are not the evil cackling villains of our childhood cartoons, with no redeeming qualities, no reason to root for them. They are just as deep and multi-faceted as our heroes, and that's what makes them so fantastic to read about.
So in closing, I say again, embrace your contradictions, allow for your complexities.
Don’t just be yourself, be all of your selves.
What other characters (heroes, villains, or sidekicks!) do you think embody this idea? Who have you found yourself loving, then hating, then loving, then hating, then...?
The winner of our Sarah Dessen giveaway is Morgan from deservedly.wordpress.com. Please email us at weheartya (at) gmail (dot) com with your postal address. We'll send you a signed copy of The Moon and More.
Sneaking this one in under the wire... It's still Tuesday, but you've got a new DJ on the 1's and 2's. Sarah's busy moving to England (maybe) so I'm filling in with the tweet-ness this week. Hope you don't mind! I'll try to keep things fun on this warm summer night.
Quick reminder: You've got one more day to enter our giveaway for Sarah Dessen's THE MOON AND MORE. Just click over to our interview post with her and leave a comment. We'll announce the winner later this week!
First and foremost, if you haven't seen the #YABooksWithALetterMissing tweets, YOU MUST. Epic Reads posted a great roundup, and we've got a few more funnies to share.
The Lighting Thief by Rick Riordan #YABooksWithALetterMissing Hide your kids; hide your lamps!
— Christina Megan (@Reader_Fictions) July 2, 2013
Paper Owns by John Green - Paper finally wins it all. #YABooksWithALetterMissing
— Julia Karr (@juliaakarr) July 3, 2013
A Series of Unfortunate Vents: Three siblings run from an evil cousin through a maze of treacherous air ducts. #YABooksWithALetterMissing
— Jon E. Christianson (@HonestlyJon) July 3, 2013
I was trying to do #YABooksWithALetterMissing but kept wanting to ADD letters to my titles. Like BRAISED BY WOLVES - recipes from the pack.
— Jennifer Lynn Barnes (@jenlynnbarnes) July 2, 2013
Btw, if you missed ALA or Leaky Con this week, you weren't the only one...
Reading all the #ala2013 tweets and feeling sooo jealous I can't be there & also super grateful for twitter so that I can live vicariously.
— Emma Kress (@emma_kress) June 29, 2013
Dystopian novels are like folktales; cautionary tales for the next generation --L. Lowry, #ala2013
— Topher Lawton (@HieAnon) June 29, 2013
Dystopia is in fact high school. -Patrick Ness #ALA13
— cinjoella (@cinjoella) June 29, 2013
I miss my #LeakyCon friends already. pic.twitter.com/RLkGc9XlNi
— Stephanie Perkins (@naturallysteph) July 1, 2013
Hey stranger I am talking to in this line, who are you? Turns out, it was author Shannon Messenger pic.twitter.com/afy8z9aN8K
— TeenLibrarianToolbox (@TLT16) July 1, 2013
If you're looking for a good read, well look no further!
"[@amyreedfiction OVER YOU] is a captivating novel that will compel teens to reflect on the nature of their friendships." --SLJ
— Anica Mrose Rissi (@editrixanica) June 19, 2013
Teen says BLACK HELICOPTERS was so amazing you can't know it you can only "feel" it. @Candlewick @BlytheWoolston #bfya
— Angie Manfredi (@misskubelik) June 29, 2013
I *rarely* finish an entire book in 2 days, but WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE by @TrishDoller was SO GOOD I couldn't stop.
— Jessi Kirby (@JessiKirby) June 30, 2013
And here's some spare change for your writing-tip jar.
Look, I'm not saying "Add me to your YA romance as the brooding, sexy love interest." All I'm saying is nothing could go wrong if you do.
— Mark O'Brien (@mobrienbooks) July 1, 2013
@raecarson This is the Rainbow Age, if anything. And it's awesome.
— Elizabeth Bear (@matociquala) June 20, 2013
Educate yourself on commas and possessives! A Brief Lesson in Copyediting: https://t.co/CcHerYeein
— DahliaAF (@MissDahlELama) June 21, 2013
"The plot is the sequence of events over which your themes, your premise, your conflicts, and your character growth play out." @lainitaylor
— Martina Boone (@MartinaABoone) June 28, 2013
Some words are like tofu, bland and uninteresting alone. But they draw flavor from what's around them. #amediting
— Stephanie Mooney (@mooney) June 28, 2013
Oh hey, we found a few cents under the couch for your life-tip jar too!
하늘이 무너져도 솟아날 구멍이 있다. (Even if the sky falls on you, there is a hole from which you can escape.) - Korean Proverb
— Penny Moore (@precociouspenny) June 21, 2013
There is a very popular notion that the only RIGHT kind of feminist is the sexy, edgy feminist. Girls, I say be YOUR OWN kind of feminist.
— Ally Carter (@OfficiallyAlly) July 1, 2013
"While there is time, let's go out and do everything" -- #ChildofThe80s
— melanie conklin (@MLConklin) June 30, 2013
One of the best internet-age feelings is unsubscribing from email newsletters and blogs that you realize are cluttering up your life.— Kristan Hoffman (@kristanhoffman) June 28, 2013
Last but not least, we're always glad to see a sense of wonder.
#meetingdoodles page 3 pic.twitter.com/eiAb6ZI0uO
— Dustin Hansen (@DustHansen) June 28, 2013
I know this is random and a bit cliche and everything, but. But. It always amazes me that words can make us FEEL.
— Amy Zhang (@amyzwrites) June 30, 2013
Like, they are literally nothing than lines on paper. And yet we can rearrange them and fill them with these weird, amazing truths.— Amy Zhang (@amyzwrites) June 30, 2013
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