On the near eve of my 30th birthday I was watching the movie Julie & Julia. It seemed ironic hearing Julie Powell talk about surviving her 30th birthday while I was still wondering how I felt about mine. In fact, I still am...sort of.
For some reason we valorize some birthdays and fear others. Why is that?
Julie Powell was trying to escape...through cooking and yet through that escape she found herself. Through Julia Child's story and recipes, Julie Powell felt she had come to know a good friend, a confidant, someone else in the struggle.
Isn't this what books do for us as readers? We feel we really do know the characters whether real or fictional and we escape through their stories? When these stories feel parallel to our own personal struggles, there is a certain staying power they have on us. I'm sure we can all rattle off the names of books where this has happened because we carry them along with us wherever we go.
I think this is one of the truly powerful aspects of young adult literature in particular because teens are growing, finding themselves, struggling to fit in and feel wanted and just...figure out life. Sure we're always doing that and we have our own moment of crises of struggles of "oh my God is that what age I am" and "where did I think I'd be at this point in my life" but it's so much more magnified when we are young. That's one thing I'm happy about with turning 30 as compared to when I was younger, I certainly know who I am so much more fully now.
And for all the teens who are still taking this journey and asking the big questions and envisioning what might be in the future, take hold of all that literature out there to help you find it because that will help you in the struggle and when you find those characters or those stories that give you peace of mind that you're not alone, hold on to them and carry them with you. They'll serve you well over the years and one day you'll realize you're not lost but totally and perfectly and utterly on track. You're exactly where you need to be and exactly who you should be. You're perfect.
What books or characters have made you feel that way?