Welcome to another Thoughts On book review. You’ll see these pop up on my blog whenever I’ve found a book I just can’t put down.
You know what I love about literature? When authors are courageous enough to tell a real story.
I’ve encountered a trend in young adult fiction in the past few years that has made me so happy. It’s going to sound morbid at first when I tell you, but hear me out.
I love authors who aren’t afraid to kill off their love interests.
Thomas Pearson. Augustus Waters. And most recently for me, Seth Moreno. But don’t get me wrong; I’m not into people dying. What does get my little writer’s-heart pumping however is the power these authors have over their story. They bring these characters into our lives, convince us to root for them, and then BAM. They bring it all crashing down with one raw moment.
What drew me into Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age Of Miracles was the concept of a day when the world suddenly starts rotating slower, but what kept me up at night turning the pages to find out what happened was the way in which Walker develops her characters.
It’s your typical pre-teen tropic romance. Originally, Seth is the distant, older boy Julia has a secret crush on. The boy she watches from afar, longing for the day when he’ll see her as more than just his bus-stop neighbor. When he finally does notice her, it’s beautiful, and it’s awkward, and it just might be love.
And then he contracts a debilitating atmospheric disease and is taken away for treatment never to be heard from again.
Walker takes the tried and true young adult romance and turns it on its head, beautifully juxtaposing the new and intriguing apocalyptic storyline with the never changing frailness of a young one’s heart.
We’re right there with Julia when she falls in love with Seth and so we feel for her in those final moments when she is forced to say goodbye. She stands gripping Seth’s skateboard in her hands, watching as his father loads him into the car. The next day she gets an eight-word email from him and then radio silence.
Forget Julia, I’m bawling my eyes out over here!
And while my heart breaks for Julia and Seth and the love they lost at such a young age, the events of the novel that caused them so much misery made me absolutely squirm with delight. Because it takes nerve to tell a story like that.
It’s not hard to spin a sci-fi tale about this crazy world where up is down and left is right. We’re quick to weep over heartache and talk about literary deaths or the lingering plot questions they bring up. What really stays with us are the characters so boldly ripped away. What really leaves a lasting impression are those stories told by authors who aren’t afraid of making us feel.
And that’s what I love about death in YA literature-