Hope . . .

Do teens need hope? More to the point - do they need it in their literature? After discussing some painfully gut-wrenching novels in class, we came around to this essential question. We brainstormed and were able to come up with only a handful of titles (barring Christopher Pike's oeuvre) where in the main character dies. Many of these were still relatively hopeful - begging the question, do teens need hope? Do they need that glimmer of silver in the thunderhead?

I don't think so. I see kids go from tween to teen every year. I watch them mature and learn to read and take stock of the world around them. They exist in a limbo: not kids and not yet adults, governed by rules they have no say in, highly marketed but not self-sufficient, affected and interested by politics but unable to vote . . . Teens live in a adult world that is largely ignorant of their concerns and crises. I think there is something about the hopeless, the utterly bleak, that speaks to this sense of alienation and disenfranchisement.

Many of them don't need rainbows after the storm, but we keep providing it. Perhaps it has something to do with our adult guilt - our need to promise that everything will eventually be kind of okay. The protagonist will survive (and so will you!). The world cares about her (and also about you!). Bad things happen to good people but not really because in the end there is a glimmer of hope to let you know that g-d or whomever is still on their (your!) side.

Do I think teens need hope? Not any more than adults do. I think we're just suffering from Pretty Woman syndrome - on their behalf.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty Woman syndrome...I really like that concept. I'm going to steal it for the next time I teach this class. Some great thoughts here, and I completely agree with you on all points. And we've said it before, but I don't think these dark books are necessarily for everyone. But you already knew that too.