ender's game

Finding Friends in Fiction

Written by Grant Goodman, 5/14/2015 For many of us, writing comes from frustration and disappointment. We don't like what our world has to offer. We are haunted by past decisions. We look back at our ever-growing pile of mistakes and wish that somehow we could make them into something better.

I think that many YA authors still remember those scars and, with the perspective that comes with adulthood, they recognize how universal those growing pains are. I really, really wish that more people were like our YA authors. I think that far too often adults overlook the importance of empathy. Yes, it is easy to look at the problems that teens face and outright dismiss them. But that totally misses the point.

This is why good YA lit is absolutely vital. We need stories out there that offer a window into teenage life that teens themselves can recognize as authentic. One of the biggest crises of my youth was thinking that no one else understood what I was going through, not even my friends.

I found friends in fiction, Holden Caulfield, Ender Wiggins and Harry Potter standing at the lead of the pack.

I didn't have a rich YA landscape, though. I had already jumped into Dragonlance and Stephen King which mostly featured adults.

I'm curious: who are the YA characters you have found yourself identifying with?

Sci-Fi YA and the Changing Tide

Sci-Fi YA and the Changing Tide Written by Grant Goodman, 10/28/2014

For the entirety of my teens, science-fiction was a term you simply didn’t say. It was social suicide. You were better off saying you were into picture books than sci-fi novels. Those were tough times.

For the record, I said it anyway. I found my tribe eventually and we had plenty of great times discussing ENDER’S GAME and DUNE.

But now, due to the rising trends of YA fiction, sci-fi is getting a new spin. As more teens dive into sci-fi novels like DIVERGENT or Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES series, they grow up with a strong love of sci-fi.

What’s the appeal, then?

I’ve asked my students and the answers they provide tend to be along these lines:

1) They don’t know what their own futures are going to be like, so they like reading about other futures.

2) They love new technology. (Fairly obvious, right?)

3) They are beginning to understand politics and the fact that these dystopian settings are based on the idea of government gone wrong.

Science-fiction provides them with a strong “what if?” that is sometimes only one step away from the world they inhabit. Sometimes it casts them into deep space, sometimes they get to step sideways into an alternate version of Earth.

No matter what, it makes me incredibly happy to see so many sci-fi titles making it in the mainstream. I’ve always felt that science-fiction shows us that no matter how far we travel (distance or time), we can never escape human nature.

These tales force us to look at who we are and how we treat each other—and the more people who are reading them, the better.