What #QuietYA Means To Me
I grew up in Santa Barbara, with a beautiful white Spanish, red-tile-roofed library. It was the era of no-talking-in-the-library. So while you’d hear footsteps, a laugh or a dropped book echoing in the high ceilinged rooms, in my memory, there was always a hush.
For me, this was the hush of connecting with a book, of searching through the stacks, taking books from the shelves and leafing through them. Retreating to a cool, isolated corner with an armload of volumes which might contain my book. The perfect one. The one I had to read right then. The book to that drew me in and spoke to me --mind, heart and soul.
This, for me, is what #QuietYA is all about. The debate about whether the definition of Quiet YA should be a book without plot pyrotechnics, or a book that’s been undervalued, or a book that hasn’t received major awards is interesting. But to the YA reader, searching the stacks as I did, wanting to fall into the pages of her perfect book, I’m not sure that definitions matter.
Quiet YA is about being so connected to a book, so involved in the book’s world, so fascinated by the characters, that all the other noise in the reader’s life fades to the almost-sacred silence of the Santa Barbara Public Library.
Quiet YA represents the reader’s opportunity to range through a citadel of books like the childhood library where I wanted to pitch a tent. That was my fantasy: spending the night alone in that library, black words on white pages illuminated by a flashlight, teaching my imagination to fly; expanding my understanding of the world and my ability to see things from different points of view; demanding that I feel empathy for people who reached up from the pages and grabbed my heart.
As I entered my teen years, books allowed me to create that quiet place of passionate involvement wherever I went. I carried books around with me, and they carried me away and brought me back nourished and refreshed.
It is a wonder to me now that books with teen characters are being published in such great numbers, and are so highly valued by their readers. The moments of intense involvement with characters and stories are heightened when the reader is, developmentally, in a place so similar to the characters who speak to her, that she’s able to experience the story with a unique emotional immediacy. For older readers, Quiet YA moments pull us back into a fuller appreciation of where we’ve been, and shed light on our process of becoming who we are.
Quiet YA isn’t a book, but the experience of interacting with a book.
I wish you all a flashlight, a tent, and the YA novel that compels you to enter its world.
Thank you, Ann, for such a fantastic post.
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