Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

So often I find myself disappointed by Christian fiction. The reasons are many and varied. Thankfully this book avoided most of the pitfalls. I will say that I really liked how this book weaved Christian topics into the story. Instead of just mentioning the characters were people of faith, the book actually touched upon things that we as Christians deal with on a daily basis. It was nice to see the author actually make daily Christian struggles, such as controlling anger and trusting in God even when things look bad, a part of the story.

The story itself was good enough, but not great. The "mystery" part of the book felt like it had been tacked on. It was as if the author realized she needed some type of conflict in the book so she added the mystery of the stolen necklace to create the necessary conflict.

I would have rather seen the author focus more on Carrie's struggles as the factory's only female worker, and her struggles to make her own way. Those two things alone would have created enough conflict for the book. Instead the author started with those struggles and then left them hanging to pursue the issue of the stolen necklace. Unfortunately this left both areas underdeveloped and falling flat.

Regardless, I did enjoy the book. I liked the tone of the book and enjoyed the simplicity of the book. I came to really like Carrie, Josef, Mr. Tobarth, Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Lundgren. The other characters were a bit under developed and one dimensional, but even so they were tolerable.

All things considered, I would recommend this book.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Color of Courage by Patricia Davids

I really enjoyed this book. Of course it centered on horses and the military, so it was probably a safe bet I'd at least like the book. I can't say that the book offered anything especially ground breaking, but I didn't read the book expecting that. I knew this was romance and as such went into the book simply looking for a nice story. And this book delivered that. I really found myself drawn into the book, but I think it had more to do with the horse than the characters.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Writing YA Literature

I had an interesting conversation this week in which I made the comment that Stephenie Meyer's writing was elementary, uninspired and full of cliches. The person I was talking to said, "Well, I've heard her books were written for children from the fourth or fifth grade up to high school." I was speechless. (Those of you who know me, know this is as rare as seeing a baiji.)

For several long moments I could only stare in wonder and stupefied amazement. Really? Really?! Am I to understand correctly then, that writing for preteens and teens (typically referred to as YA) means you dumb down your writing? Frankly, I can't even begin to wrap my mind around this reasoning.

Reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, serves to stretch the mind. When one encounters good, proper writing the vocabulary, sentence structure, syntax and grammar work to edify the mind. The work itself should give the reader something to think on, perhaps even introduce a heretofore unconsidered topic.

Yet common thinking, and I hesitate to even call this thinking, dictates that writing for YA should be elementary. In other words -- condescending. No wonder my son started reading adult books in the fourth grade!

Parents and teachers all say they want children to read to enhance the learning process. How does the Twilight series enhance the learning process? And lest you think I am only finding fault with Stephenie Meyer -- I'm not. There are several offenders. Stephenie Meyer simply has the "distinction" of being the most popular offender at the moment.

As I've pondered this topic, I've come to the conclusion that writing YA literature should be like writing for adults. YA authors should strive to write in a style that showcases good vocabulary, proper use of grammar, and engaging plots and characters. The YA author should seek to introduce unique perspectives and ideas that cause the young reader to think beyond the confines of his present world. The only thing the YA author should refrain from is inappropriate subject matter. In all other aspects, YA literature should mimic adult literature.