Tuesday, January 6, 2009

“Her internal landscape is, I suspect, quite picturesque.”

I recently read an article about teenage girls in the context of young adult literature, specifically the Twilight series. It's a lengthy read, but is somewhat interesting.

Here's what the author made me remember about being a teenage girl:

"never have I had such an intense relationship with books as when I was a young girl. I raged inside them and lived a double emotional life (half real girl, half inhabitant of a distant world)."

"the salient fact of an adolescent girl’s existence is her need for a secret emotional life—one that she slips into during her sulks and silences, during her endless hours alone in her room, or even just when she’s gazing out the classroom window. . . "

"she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs—to be undisturbed while she works out the big questions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others—are met precisely by the act of reading"

"one of the signal differences between adolescent girls and boys is that while a boy quickly puts away childish things in his race to initiate a sexual life for himself, a girl will continue to cherish, almost to fetishize, the tokens of her little-girlhood. She wants to be both places at once—in the safety of girl land, with the pandas and jump ropes, and in the arms of a lover . . . "

Ummm, yeah. Being a teenage girl was pretty much like that for me. Even as this article made me wistful and a little tiny bit nostalgic, I also remember how much I loathed those years. How utterly painful they seemed to be, with my feet in two different worlds, not feeling settled or safe in either but absolutely losing myself in my books.

I thought about it the other day - how my dad would get exasperated on family outings when we girls would have our noses buried in books in the back seat instead of looking at the scenery. I didn't know then what a safehaven those books were.

Then there were the years between my teens and mid-twenties in which I left that safehaven and stepped fully out in the world with the blinking, sensitive eyes of a newly minted adult. I left those books summarily behind to keep my poor, deserted but weary youth company, only to rediscover reading as an art 5 summers ago.

And as I pass by the book now occupying my counter, my nightstand, and gradually migrating around the house in my wake as I carry it around with me, I think about how books are once again a safehaven of sorts.

My current book is how I'm dealing with my miscarriage. It's a scary and disturbing look at recurrent miscarriage, but it is true and honest and informational, all of which I need right now. I've found that Information is how I deal with things.

My writing books, such as Room to Write and Writing Down the Bones, the ones that sit perpetually on my nightstand, keep me tethered to my writing world, which tether would otherwise grow thin and whither even as my journal grows dusty.

Dandelion Wine is my summer book, geniously illustrating the dichotomy between the world of children and that of adults. It helps me remember the wonder of childhood in the summer and also remember to try not to take myself too seriously as an adult. It didn't get finished this summer. I hope I can get through it next summer.

Jesus the Christ is what I turn to when I have a particular need or question about the scriptures. I hope to read it all the way through this year. It's fascinating, but it's deep.

And then there's the Shopaholic series, which makes me laugh out loud and takes my mind off the seriousness of life when being a grownup makes me so so tired.

[Title quote is from "Becoming Jane"]


Miranda said...

Well said! With that in mind, are we going to the VNSA book sale in a few weeks?

Miranda said...

P.S. I changed my blog...New year, new blog! Just in case you're trying to find me: http://lifeofmirandap.blogspot.com/

Jen said...

i just love books!! it really is a great way to escape for a bit!!

The Sartori's said...

I have always said reading is my alcohol. It is the way I avoid the pain or heartache of real life. As a teenager I lived in them.
After my last miscarriage I sunk into deep depression, and I reread every childhood novel I still own during that time. Didn't realize what I was even doing until I read your post.
Most of the books I read I would catagorize as useless drivel, a great way to occupy the thoughts of a mind I can't seem to control.

Michelle said...

I love a good book! It's all about the discovery for me. Sometimes it's a lifetime of exerience that we get to read in a matter of hours! Here's a quote i love!
"If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love ya!

Trina said...

i've read the twilight series and tried to put into words when i was asked WHY by certain people and this blog is exactly what i was trying to say... those books brought me back to that teen girl for a while. i've missed that part of me. thanks for writing this- it's one of my faves!

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