Small books, big lessons

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Written by Rachel Wood, contributing writer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken the time to revisit young adult books, both from my own adolescence and more recent publications. It’s not something I would normally do – between books for class and keeping up with new publications, there isn’t much spare time to re-read young adult books. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that young adult literature can be of great value.

While re-reading some of these books, I’ve realized just how beneficial it would be if we all took a moment to value the lessons that these books teach.

Young adult literature proves that adolescents are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. As I was reading my favorite young literature books, I remembered just how intricate and emotional the plot lines could get.

One of my favorite historical fiction novels, Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Fever 1793,” tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl who loses almost her entire family to a fever outbreak in Philadelphia, and must learn to survive on her own. This novel is a wonderful display of perseverance and hope.

In fact, young adult books offer some of the best advice on tough topics – advice that, even now, I find helpful.

A few weeks ago, I fell in love with Claire Legrand’s 2016 novel “Some Kind of Happiness.” The story follows Finley Hart, a girl who has been sent to her grandparent’s home for the summer while her parents work through relationship problems.

Though the book is packed with whimsical tales of the Everwood Forest, Finley isn’t your typical headstrong protagonist; she regularly finds herself dealing with overwhelming fear and sadness on what she calls her “blue days,” a telltale sign of anxiety and depression.

Though it’s written for a younger audience, her experiences are easy for adults young and old, myself included, to relate to. She even relays her experiences of going to therapy – a topic many adults struggle to talk about. At first glance, some might call the topic inappropriate for adolescents, but this novel could be a lifesaver for young adults who share Finley’s emotions.

So, even as a college student, I find I can still learn a lot from these books. Well-written young adult literature does a great job of reminding us that our feelings are valid and universal. They remind us to be nicer to one another, and even to be nicer to ourselves.

Sometimes, the most important encouragement we can have is knowing what we’re dealing with isn’t just happening to us, and a book might just be the perfect reminder.202