Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Laurie Halse Anderson
It's not brand-spanking new like Wintergirls, but Twisted is definitely worth a read. First, it is not a girl book. I'm very into boy books these days since I'm working on one. Go figure! And it's a real gem to find a boy book that deals with boy emotions from a boy perspective BUT is written by a woman.
A woman's approach to a male character and the result is all way in the forefront of my conscious writing after listening to Mike Sullivan speak at a conference I was speaking at last weekend. He drove home the point that we "girls" like connection and peaceful resolutions to problems. We're internally driven. Boys need to make connection. They need to experience tactile-y how something feels, works, and affects them. That's why they drive their bikes off of cliffs and that kind of extreme sports stuff. Sure, there are girls who do it too, and Sullivan says that both boy and girl readers who are reluctant readers share this hands-on approach to life. They need to experience.
Having said that, as a woman, I felt like Anderson did a great job with bringing her boy character home. Granted in this story of the dweeb turned bad boy, there is the Anderson element of darkness. Tyler does ultimately consider suicide. He also considers blowing up his school. Hurting his peers. Shooting his father. Yet, in the end, he decides to make a turn. To man up and face up to his dad. To win respect with guts rather than guns.
In all that, I can't help wondering if that's a woman's take or a man' reality. Trouble male teens don't all blow up schools or shoot themselves or hurt others. But, is the journey to manning up grittier and more experiential than even Anderson gives us? Compare her work to Walter Dean Myers' Monster. Myer's novel is rawer. It made me feel physically ill with worry as the character told his story. The emotion I came away with from Myers' work was uncomfortable. Unfamiliar. Unfemale.
Can we women portray Myers' type of gritty male? Absolutely. If we're willing to understand it. Which may or may not take actually experiencing it like a man might choose to.
What do you think? I'd really love some input on this. I'm trying to understand the male mojo. Not an easy feat. But doable, right?
For more great reads, hop over to Barrie Summy's site. You're sure to Spring into something fun!