Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Author Appreciation Week

So, Author Appreciation Week. When I think about authors who have influenced me as a person, the list is lengthy, and I’ll get to some of them later this week. But, when I think about authors who have influenced me as a writer, there are two that I need to mention first and foremost.

Just over a year and a half ago, I got the crazy notion to write my daughter a book for her birthday. The only thing of any length that I’d written up until that point had been my doctoral dissertation, and I’d hated every second of it. Additionally, the only YA I’d read up until then had been the Harry Potter books. Naturally, since I was writing for my soon to be 14 year-old, I wanted to find out what she was reading, so I scanned her bookshelves. Twilight and all its sequels were front and center, so I read them, but I wanted a sense of what else was out there. I went online and found the names Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson all over YA websites, so off I went to my local bookstore. I came home with Dreamland and Speak.

And was blown away.

I literally read them back to back in one day, and couldn’t speak. I was stunned. Who knew that YA literature could be so meaningful, relevant and necessary? No disrespect intended toward J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, but the depth of the issues that are dealt with in Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, and the grace with which they are handled, is nothing short of amazing. We want to think that our own daughters would be never end up in abusive relationships or in situations where they could be sexually assaulted. But it happens.

These authors not only made me realize that YA literature is not just “fluff,” and that nothing is off the table, but they offer teen girls a resource, albeit fictional, to explore these issues, and, if parents are smart, an opportunity to discuss them. And they both continue to write about timely and timeless issues that are so important to young women.

Hats off to them and others like them who aren’t afraid to tackle the tough issues.


  1. Two of my very favorite YA authors! Great post, Lisa.

  2. Just read and reviewed Speak. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  3. Andye--Love that book! Hope you liked it too!