So what do I know?
Posted by lpearle on 16 December 2013
A couple of weeks ago I gave The Infinite Moment of Us a three-star review, in part because “The starts and stops of the relationship felt real, and Myracle has a real ear for the language real teens use.”
Then one of my hard-core readers borrowed it and completely disagreed: she felt (strongly) that the language was not authentic, that the teens didn’t resemble anyone she (or her friends) knew. Wren seemed one-dimensional, and the relationship just didn’t work for her.
I’ve often wondered about the difference between my reading a book as an adult, with an ever-growing distance between me and my teen self, and an actual teen’s experience of that book. Several books that have seen much critical love – being added to the curriculum or as all-school reads – from adults but from the intended audience’s point-of-view they’re complete flops with characters they don’t relate to and a message they feel stifled by. These are readers who know that books like Gossip Girl or those by Sarah Dessen aren’t real or meant to be “good” books but they’re enjoyable reads anyway. And they don’t expect those characters to be real, or relatable in the same way that the characters in this book are supposed to be.
How many others have had similar experiences? Or have recognized themselves in a character, only to realize that the author is closer to them in age than to the proposed age group – and that what they’re responding to is from a teen perspective some decades old? It’s making me question many of my recent reads, and whether I am, in fact, buying the right books for this library.