Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guest Post: YA Author's Appreciation Featuring Aiecha of Word Spelunking and Lauren Myracle




I live in my own little world. But its ok, they know me here. – Lauren Myracle


It all started about five years ago when my now almost 16 year old sister was just turning 11. I was in the YA section of my local bookstore looking for a book my not-so-little-anymore sister could read and enjoy. As a pre-teen and teen, I lived very much in a world of books where fictional characters were often some of my dearest friends, and I wanted to pass that love and joy of reading onto my sister.


While browsing I came across Lauren Myracle’s Eleven, a book that explores the humor and heartache of Winnie Perry’s eleventh year. I was stoked when I found this book; I mean, what better book gift for an 11 year old than a book entitled Eleven?! So, I bought it...then decided to read it myself. At the time, I was in my early twenties, in college as an English major, and spent most of my time reading your fancypants classics, but I thought “What the heck? I could use a nice, simple meaningless read.” But, what I got was the start of a long, deep, fangirly appreciation of and love affair with Lauren Myracle’s YA books.

I devoured Eleven in one sitting, literally LOLing the whole way through. I was hooked! Within the next two weeks after that, I had had all of Myracle’s books that were published at the time, purchased and read. I had originally set out to simply find something for my sister to enjoy and ended up finding something I never knew I was missing. When I was younger, I may have lived in that world of books, but very few of them were considered YA. As a child, I read many of the popular children’s books-Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, anything and everything by Judy Blume-but by the time I reached 13, I had moved past these books and set out on a decade’s long tryst with books geared more to adults.

I suppose I started where many young girls start by reading the novels of Jane Austen, then I discovered Ayn Rand, next came Faulkner, Vonnegut, Kerouac, and W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. I delighted in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Holdstock’s Mythago Wood. But very rarely, as a young adult did I venture into the YA section, and by the time I reached my early twenties I had convinced myself that YA had nothing to offer me anymore. How wrong was I?!


Lauren Myracle’s YA novels opened my eyes to the awesomeness, beauty, humor, and enlightenment that YA has to offer. Myracle writes with a poignant honesty that never fails to move me, a laugh out loud humor that entertains me and an effortless realism that holds me spellbound. Myracles Luv Ya Bunches series are the type of books I craved as a ten year old, her Winnie Perry books are the type of books I desperately needed as a middle schooler, and books such as her Internet Girls series, Kissing Kate, Shine, and Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks are they types of books I wish existed when I was a teenager. And what I’ve come to realize, is that books like these probably did exist when I was a teen, I was just too much of a book snob to notice. If I had never decided to read Eleven I may have never continued to browse the YA section and began to voraciously read more and more YA books.

Myracle’s work was really the catalyst that changed the way I viewed YA. Before I read YA on a regular basis, I believed that YA books either fell into two different categories: strictly serious/intense and lighthearted/humorous/fluff. But Myracle’s books prove that YA can be both serious and funny in the span of a single book, a single chapter, heck, a single page…and, in Myracle’s case, it can be seriously funny! Furthermore, her books prove that YA can be, and most often is, smart, sophisticated, sharp, witty, eloquent, powerful, and meaningful. And one of the most important things Myracle has shown me through her work is that just because it’s called Young Adult doesn’t mean it’s just for young adults.

When I first began reading Myracle’s books and many other YA books, I often found myself thinking, "Wow! 17 year old me could totally relate to that or I felt the same way as a teen!" But the more YA I read, specifically the more of Myracle’s work I read, the more I began to realize that even at twenty-something I could relate to what these YA characters are going through. Even now in my late twenties, so much of what her and other YA authors’characters go through, moves me and touches me, not just because 17 year old me could have related or understood, but because 27 year old me still feels it, gets it, experiences it. Just like Lissa in Kissing Kate or Carly in Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks, I still struggle with figuring out just who I am and who I want to me. Just like Winnie Perry, sometimes I still feel the sting of not fitting in or not being a part of the “cool” crowd. And just like Angela, Maddie, and Zoe in the Internet Girls series, I still worry about the future, about my future.

There’s a passage in Myracle’s Thirteen (Winnie Years #3) that I want to share:

Growing up is always tinged with sadness; that’s what I was coming to learn. You got boobs, but also got zits. You got to wear cooler clothes, but you felt self-conscious when people noticed you in them. You realized your parents weren’t perfect and amazing and all-powerful, which was liberating in a way, but, well, you also realized your parents weren’t perfect and amazing and all-powerful. Which sucked. As a little kid, I thought my parents had all the answers. As I got older, I realized no one did.


To me, this passage encompasses so much of what YA is all about, what the essence of YA is made up of. Whether a YA novel has vampires, werewolves, magical abilities; whether it takes places 100 years ago, 100 years from now, or today, it’s all about capturing the moments, experiences, and feelings that change its characters, cause them to evolve and mature. In a way, every YA story is a coming of age story; a story about growing-growing up; growing wiser; growing older. And do we ever really stop growing? Do we ever stop needing stories like these, like so many found in YA, to remind us we are not alone? I’ve found that Myracle’s YA books vibrate and pulse with this essence. She has become the epitome of all that makes YA, well, YA.

I wouldn’t be the reader that I am today nor would I have the pleasure and honor of enjoying so many YA titles if it weren’t for Lauren Myracle and her books. I will forever be grateful for the YA world that she opened up for me. Now as an adult, I still live very much in my own world, a world of books, but like Lauren says in the quote at the top of this post, that’s okay because they know me here. And Lauren Myracle certainly knows her YA audience, those that are truly young adults and those that are simply young at heart.


As Taken From Goodreads

Lauren Myracle is the author of numerous young adult novels. She was born in 1969 in North Carolina. Lauren Myracle holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. she has written many novels, including the famous IM books, ttyl, ttfn., and l8r, g8r.

Her first novel, Kissing Kate, was selected as one of ALA's "Best Books for Young Adults" for the year 2004. It was named by Booklist as one of the "Top Ten Youth Romances" of the year, as well as one of the "Top Ten Books by New Writers." Her middle-grade novel, Eleven, came out 2004, followed by its YA sequels (Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One).

Visit Lauren Myracle at her website:

1 comment:

  1. Melanie M McCulloughDecember 20, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    Awesome post. Thanks so much for sharing. I've yet to read a Lauren Myracle book but I have a few on my shelf. I really have to remember to make it a priority.


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