Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Sorting -- The Lines Between Kidlit and YA and Adult

I like to read books about kids. That's probably because I like kids, and also because I find some adult issues boring even though they are the main interest of many authors -- adultery, male identity crisis, where to find gorgeous shoes -- these are all things that modern books love to explore but leave me bored out of my gourd. That's probably why I also like genre books -- science fiction, romance, mystery, all these "genres" tend to have something interesting going on, even if they occasionally also throw in worries about who to sleep with, why does no one respect my (male) authority, and shopping.

Sometimes I separate my personal library by kidlit/adult books. (Every five or ten years I like to do a huge overhaul of my books. Doesn't everyone? Don't answer that if you don't at least alphabetize.) And if the protagonist spends most of the time as a child, I sort the book into kidlit because I would have liked it as a child and the author doesn't get a vote. (The Power of One, I'm looking at you.) And I get to decide where YA goes because they are my books. But I'm glad I'm not a public library, because then things get a bit stickier.
Alabama Moon and Awards
I finished Alabama Moon by Watt Key this month, and I'd like to thank past me for putting it on my TBR list; I think it's my favorite book by Key so far. It's the story of the transition into society of the boy Moon, who has been literally raised in the wilderness by his survivalist father. It throws in some crowd-pleasers like the stupid & evil cop (sort of a malicious Roscoe P.) but mainly follows Moon as he struggles to fit in a completely alien society with unknown rules and connections.  Moon is eleven or twelve, and the themes are about connecting to family and trusting in friends, so I'd have no hesitation putting this on my kidlit shelves, but the library has it in YA. Is that because of the guns? The ideas of fearing the government? I have no idea.  I think the publisher is a bit confused as well -- the reading level is ages 9-12 or grades 6-8. Those don't match up, but the complete range (age 9-14) seems right.

In Zanesville: A NovelI also completed In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard and while that managed to miss the spot for me I think that was more my problem than the author's. It recreates the adolescent world of a girl in the late seventies/early eighties with fine precision, but it's a world that was alien to me at the time and so I didn't enjoy revisiting it. I wasn't into boys and clothes as a teen, and I found the girls who were dull and sometimes antagonistic, so spending pages in the head of one of them was uncomfortable. It's also a book that seems written to remind people of their youth rather than to resonate with someone living their youth, which is why I guess the library puts it in adult fiction rather than YA despite the teen-age protagonist. On my shelves it would have gone straight in with the kid books, since I would have approached it with a science-fiction style of entering into an alternate reality, but when I was a kid I wouldn't yet have the memory baggage that made it an uncomfortable journey.

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