Young Adult Novels – Coming of Age in the 21st Century
Thank you, Apryl Baker of My Crazy Corner, for granting me a spot in the YA Blog Fest. My name is KC Sprayberry, and I write all types of fiction, but mostly young adult coming of age stories. One of the best reviews I got for Softly Say Goodbye, a novel about underage drinking, was that the reviewer found my writing to be similar to Judy Blume's.
Judy Blume wrote about problems teens faced as they came of age. With so many things bombarding them, the eighties gave her many things to focus on, issues today's teens still face, but there are so many more things they tackle on a daily basis.
Puberty, racism, and teen sex are still around, but now there are also things like underage drinking, bullying, and school violence. Not that they didn't exist in the eighties, but the electronic age has brought these concerns to the forefront. They are in the news, explored and exploited on social media, and constantly discussed.
My soon-to-be released novel, Take Chances, is a story close to the heart of all teens, and their parents. It involves school violence, not just the incident, but also what happens afterward.
As the parent of eight, a blend of two families, with one teenager still at home, I am most concerned about what appears to be an unsolvable problem.
School violence seems to be a problem manifested in the late twentieth century and growing in this second decade of the twenty-first century. That can't be further from the truth. This problem dates back to 1764, eleven years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when four Lenape Indians infiltrated a classroom with a teacher and ten or eleven students present (details on the number in the classroom differ). By the time these invaders left, all but two of the students were dead.
Most will claim this is ancient history, not repeated for many years, and was a part of living in this country during its early years.
That claim can't be further from the truth.
General belief is that a student or disgruntled former student, a loner, is the norm to be a school shooter. History proves this belief as wrong as well.
It's usually an adult male, with reasons varying from anger for something they believe occurred by a teacher/administrator or being dumped by their wife/girlfriend.
Whatever the reasons, one thing about the time we live in now compared with the past – our twenty-four hour coverage of news has brought this problem into the forefront, often with knee-jerk reactions as to how to solve it.
The incident in Take Chances colors the opinions about the town, when information about the victims is revealed, information that exposes their private lives. This parallels real life, in that people search so hard for the answer to why they're willing to accept something as obscure as a teen mouthing off, their life choices, or even being from somewhere else as the reason.
Society will latch onto anything at all, to bring back the comfort of their safe town, school, and community. Those reasons usually obscure the facts of the matter.
Blurb: Julie Bond grew up in Europe as a military brat. She found her very first permanent home in Landry, GA as a teen going into high school. Almost four years later, she's having pre-graduation jitters and flashing back to an incident of school violence she experienced in Europe. She attempts to convince herself that it can never happen again, but continually finds herself flashing back to that day no matter how hard she tries.
The people around her present any number of problems for Julie, and she's hard put to keep from drowning under all the issues. Then Michael--a cool guy she's had a crush on for the last three years—returns from traveling the US as a photographer, and Julie now has one more thing to distract her as she prepares to leave high school. One thing she firmly believes in: no one will ever invade her classroom with violence again.
Once again, the impossible happens. Once again, she's in a classroom with a madman holding a gun. Once again, she must survive.
The German word for attention echoes through my head as I sit in the last French class I'll ever take. In an instant, the comforting cream-colored walls of Landry High School vanish. I'm crouched under a table with tears streaming down my face. Three men and two women point huge, black automatic weapons at my classmates.
It's not real! I'm almost eighteen – not five.
KC Sprayberry started writing young, with a diary followed by an interest in English. Her first experience with publication came when she placed third in a Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge contest while in the Air Force, but her dedication to writing came after she had her youngest child, now a in his senior year of high school.
Her family lives in Northwest Georgia where she spends her days creating stories about life in the south, and far beyond. More than a dozen of her short stories have appeared in several magazines. Five anthologies feature other short stories, and her young adult novel Softly Say Goodbye, released in 2012. During 2013, more young adult stories have been released: The Ghost Catcher, Who Am I?, Family Curse … Times Two, and Amazon Best Seller, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates.
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