Thursday, April 24, 2014

Influence

I have a confession to make. I have an imaginary boyfriend. I know he is my imaginary boyfriend because when I read his books for the first time it was like we'd been friends in high school. Or like he'd been creepily eavesdropping on me and my friends to get material for his books.
Yesterday my imaginary boyfriend was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. http://time.com/70799/john-green-2014-time-100/
I love that a young adult author made the list, and I love it even more that it's John Green. 
I've always thought that if your goal as a writer is to influence people then writing for young adults is the way to have the greatest impact. The books I read as a young adult were part of shaping who I became.
Books you read when you are in your teens stay with you. They reach you right when you are examining the world, questioning assumptions you've always were confident in and trying to find where you fit. 
John Green's books give teenagers a place. Reading them I finally felt that someone was portraying teens realistically- or at least finally portraying the group of friends I had. 

Last year my friend and I were so excited to see our imaginary boyfriend in person at the National Book Festival. (Yes, we share him. It's ok. It's imaginary anyway). We thought we were getting there early to get good seats. We stumbled onto the National Mall at a ridiculously early hour only to find his tent packed with teens. Teens who got up earlier than we, the adults , to hear him. As we watched the girls collectively gasp when he reached the potium we realized with horror that he wasn't just our imaginary boyfriend. We shared him with all these teen girls. 
I was torn between wanting to yell at these girls, "Find someone your own age!  He's too old to be your imaginary boyfriend. He is mine!" and just being jealous that these kids have his books to help them through adolescence. 

If you haven't read any of his books yet I highly recommend you remedy that situation. Even if you are in your mid 30s and feel like you are too old to read teen novels. You're not.
Start with An Abundance of Katherines, followed by Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Then move on to Papertowns, a Looking for Alaska and finally let yourself absorb The Fault in Our Stars and feel remorse that you are just now reading these books. What would high school have been like if you'd had these characters to influence you? 


3 comments:

owlfan said...

Would you recommend these for high school age boys? Or are they more for girls?

organized chaos said...

They are great for boys- main characters are male in most books. I believe he has a strong male following.

owlfan said...

Ok, thanks. I'll look for them at the library for my son.

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