virgin, but not by choice

So I finally read what was one of the talked-about books last summer, Radhika Sanghani’s Virgin (IB), which made headlines first because what book about a quest to lose your virginity wouldn’t make headlines, and also because the publisher did this thing where they made two covers in order to test the book out on multiple audiences. I thought this was a great idea in theory, even if in practice both covers are things we’ve seen a thousand times before and they don’t really accomplish what the publishing reps say as far as appearing “edgy.” Also, there looks to be a third cover, and the dumbest cover of all, with the girl whose eyes are covered by the book’s title, doesn’t seem to be findable, and I don’t know if that happened before or after sales officially began. Anyway. Cool idea, should possibly happen more often, but not all that interesting in this particular case. Might work better for crossover texts that you want to market as New Adult and YA, or New Adult and regular adult, or what have you.

As far as the book itself, I am onboard with about 2/3 of it, and that’s about as much as you could hope for with a book that is irreverent and about an awesome subject but sadly still has to have a plot, and the author decided to fit go the chick lit direction. That’s fine, because chick lit is fine, and if anything, chick lit could use more stuff that’s actually sex-positive instead of pseudo-sex-positive but actually pretty subscribe-y to the patriarchy-y. So hurrah! Continue reading

magic realism

I finally read the book that had been sitting on my shelf for ages, that I had suspected I would love but decided to avoid reading because apparently I don’t like being happy. I was an idiot to wait, because The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (IB) by Leslye Walton is pretty fucking brilliant. Lush, lyrical language without being purpley in the slightest, a compelling story, and utterly perfect characters. A must-read, truly, and a book I hope will help the YA naysayers change their minds, since this book doesn’t really seem YA in the traditional sense and instead serves to further break down the idea that YA is anything (problematic, but also useful).

Senior year of high school in AP English, we read Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (IB), and everyone but me booed or made fun of the ending. SPOILER ALERT: Milkman flies away. Literally. Figuratively, yes, but literally, because that’s slave legend, and literally, because that’s what the book says, and literally, because that’s how magic realism works. And nobody could accept it, even though there’s no reason in the world, or in the world of the novel, to doubt its truth. But because to most people who read or watch television or movies, “magic” is a thing that has to be explained ad nauseum as part of worldbuilding, or at the very least “taught” or “learned” or “harnessed” over the course of a story. In stories like this, it just is, and that’s what matters. Continue reading

what the trainwreck of peter pan live got me thinking about

I tumbl’d this last night…

I’ve said many times that I have no memory of the book that made me a reader or the book that made me see myself, and I’m not sure if those moments have ever happened.

BUT

if I were asked, I could probably name a single thing that set me on my path to graduate school, that inspired me to seek out a degree specifically in children’s literature and that informs the way I approach my work and scholarship and creativity….

…and that is Peter Pan.

The play. And the fact that people forget it wasn’t a book first, but also that it was in a book before it was a play. Because it wins at meta.

The utter genius of the whole thing, that it is, simply, what play is, developmentally, anthropologically, sociologically.

The things you can (and must) unpack in it about narratives of play, constructions of childhood, violence, and gender roles. Continue reading