Escaping the Labyrinth: Suffering in YA Fiction and the Case of John Green’s [Looking for Alaska]

  How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering? --A.Y. - John Green, Looking for Alaska (p. 158) What is the role of suffering in young adult literature? I've been obsessed with answering this question since one of my dissertation committee members asked me it a couple of weeks ago. My desire to answer this … Continue reading Escaping the Labyrinth: Suffering in YA Fiction and the Case of John Green’s [Looking for Alaska]

On Closets and Straight Gazes – Bill Konigsberg’s [Openly Straight]

I was thinking about how snakes shed their skin every year, and how awesome it would be if people did that too. In a lot of ways, that's what I was trying to do. As of tomorrow, I was going to have new skin, and that skin could look like anything, would feel different than … Continue reading On Closets and Straight Gazes – Bill Konigsberg’s [Openly Straight]

When a Horny Queer Boy and Giant Praying Mantises Collide – Andrew Smith’s [Grasshopper Jungle]

This is a bizarre novel--but it's bizarre in the best possible way. Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle: A History is an end-of-the-world narrative about love. And sexual confusion. And growth. And God. And Polish ancestry. And paranoia. And Satan. And Saints. And two-headed babies. And bisexual love triangles. And bullying. And giant praying mantises. And pill-popping mothers. And genetically modified corn. … Continue reading When a Horny Queer Boy and Giant Praying Mantises Collide – Andrew Smith’s [Grasshopper Jungle]

Course Syllabus for “The Young Adult Novel” – University of Notre Dame

Here is the syllabus for a course that I designed on the Young Adult Novel. I will teach this course during the fall 2014 semester at the University of Notre Dame. I'm very excited about this course for various reasons--mostly because I finally get to teach the texts that I work with and that I love. This course is … Continue reading Course Syllabus for “The Young Adult Novel” – University of Notre Dame

Tradition, Change, and Kinship in Sherman Alexie’s [The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian]

Few young adult novels manage to tackle deep and complex issues with as much heart and nuance as Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (henceforth PTI). Initially, PTI can be approached as an autobiographical coming-of-age (graphic) novel that centers on the growth and development of Arnold Spirit Jr., a fourteen-year-old cartoonist and student … Continue reading Tradition, Change, and Kinship in Sherman Alexie’s [The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian]

Logan Kain’s [The Dead Will Rise First]

Lately, I've been on a quest to read self-published young adult fiction, mostly because I've noticed that self-published authors tend to take more risks when crafting their stories. The reasons for this are obvious: there is no middle-man, no editor, and even more importantly, self-published authors do not face issues such as censorship and the … Continue reading Logan Kain’s [The Dead Will Rise First]

Queer Times: An Analysis of David Levithan’s [Two Boys Kissing]

In the notes and acknowledgments section written at the end of Two Boys Kissing, author David Levithan states that "This isn't a book I could have written ten years ago" (199). Levithan is absolutely right. Back in 2003, when I was still a sophomore in high school, I could never fathom the possibility of finding a … Continue reading Queer Times: An Analysis of David Levithan’s [Two Boys Kissing]

Brotherhood, Race, and Gender in Martin Wilson’s “What They Always Tell Us”

Young adult novels, generally speaking, tend to be emotionally draining reads. It is not uncommon for teens and young adults to feel angst, loneliness, and depression when trying to transcend into the realm of adulthood (as many of us know when we look back at our teen years, or as we currently experience them). I … Continue reading Brotherhood, Race, and Gender in Martin Wilson’s “What They Always Tell Us”