How do you feel about middle-grade novels that deal with life’s harsh realities? My novel, May B., focuses on a child who has been abandoned, who faces starvation and possible death. Several young readers have confessed parts of it are scary. I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with, though, is leaving my readers in a place of despair.
Here’s a quote from the amazing Katherine Paterson on just this topic:
I cannot, will not, withhold from my young readers the harsh realities of human hunger and suffering and loss, but neither will I neglect to plant that stubborn seed of hope that has enabled our race to outlast wars and famines and the destruction of death. If you think that this is the limitation that will keep me forever a writer for the young, perhaps it is. I don’t mind. I do what I can and do it joyfully.”
-Katherine Paterson, A SENSE OF WONDER: ON READING AND WRITING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
I love Ms. Paterson’s idea of a “stubborn seed of hope”, something that grows beyond painful circumstances, something that can anchor both the character and reader in a better future to come.
Do you shy away from heartache in the books you read or write? Why or why not?
I want to start a conversation here about courage and hope — what these words mean to you, ways you’ve seen them lived out, things you’ve learned because of them. If you blog, consider sharing a picture, a memory, a quote, a story — anything — that represents one or both of these words, then link back here so other readers can share in the celebration. If you don’t blog, share your courage and hope thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #MayB. and #courageandhope. Ten participants will win paperback copies of MAY B.
The contest is open between now and February 25 to US residents. Please mention the giveaway and discussion in your post and link back here or by commenting on Twitter or Facebook. So excited to have you join in the conversation!
This post originally ran September 26, 2012