The Truth About Writing Teenage Fiction As I Now Know It
MetadataShow full metadata
Young adults. On the brink of adulthood, they wait, sometimes impatiently, for that day to arrive so they can be older, wiser, free of the constraints they often feel hold them back. It is during these years of growth and change that adolescents will often experience situations or events for the first time. Not all of them will be positive. These may change their perception of the world around them and force them to face realities that are harsh but avoidable. All the while, they are building an armour of self-awareness, resilience, strength and compassion. Constantly learning strategies to cope when ‘the going gets tough’ and doing the best they can with the little resources they have. This is why it was important for me to write The Truth as I Know It. A story about a teenage girl named April who is coping with a life-changing event that forces her to deal with and accept grief, loss, guilt and forgiveness as a part of her life. Her world has become ‘April before the accident’ and ‘April after the accident’ – essentially two very different people. April embodies the spirit of many teenage girls that I have met in my years as a high school teacher. Her confidence and identity have been shattered by a tragic accident that leaves her both physically and emotionally scarred. Not yet having built the skills to cope with her situation, she does the best she can to navigate her journey, which is sometimes solitary and often isolating as she searches for understanding. This is an all too common response to the experience of trauma. Like any ‘coming of age’ journey, April has times when she feels like she is making strides ahead and then times when she is stationary, caught in the net of her own negative thoughts and memories of her past. Donna Schuurman and Amy Barrett Lindholm put it quite aptly when they write, “When teens experience a violent death such as a murder, a drunken driving crash, or other violent act that leads to death, their basic belief system is thrown into turmoil… Suddenly their innocence and certainties are shattered, and their world no longer feels safe.” (‘Teens & Grief’, The Prevention Researcher, 2002) This is very true for April’s character, who has been made a villain following the incident and feels the need to run from the harassment she faces at the hands of members of her small community. Young adult novels can be a means for adolescents to connect and identify with. They may see aspects of themselves or their lives in the characters. From this there is the opportunity to reconcile their feelings. This can be the power of this type of fiction. Hence, the novel The Truth as I Know It is a story written for teenagers that shows them that everyone copes with the more complex events in their life in different ways. There is both hope and guidance to move through most situations, but this will take time.