Monday, June 24, 2013

YA Saves...

Today, on one of the rare Georgia summer days that hasn't broken 90º by noon, I decided to take my lunch to River Front Park and read. I parked myself on a swinging bench in the shade, unpacked my sandwich, and opened Ender's Game to where I had left off. I had just settled in when a young man (maybe 18 or so) parked himself in the swing across from me.

At first, I wasn't sure how to read him. This is in the middle of the city and all kinds of people congregate at the park. His clothes were a bit worn, but clean. He had neat dreds/braids and a small backpack. He stretched himself out on the swing and lay back to enjoy a little peace.

After a bit, he asked me what I was reading. When I told him, he asked what it was about. I described the book to him, and he made an interesting assessment: "I doesn't sound too far into the future." After another bit of silence, he remarked on the idea that a child would save the day. Then he asked me if it was the kind of book he could find in the library. I smiled and said, "Absolutely!"

We sat in silence a bit longer. Then he said that this book sounded a little like a series he had read earlier—Artemis Fowl. Again, I smiled and said I had read some of those too.

It would have been very easy to assume this kid was a thug or a drifter simply based on his appearance. But there was such an honesty in his expression. I have no idea what his daily life is like, but I'm certain it has not resemblance to my own or that of my kids. No matter what else is going on in this kid's life, he loves books. Good books. He seemed to hunger for another one and welcomed a suggestion, a bit of direction that would lead him straight to the library with a purpose.

Obviously, there is a lot more to his own story that I could never guess, but I couldn't help but hear a certain phrase banging around in my head as I left. YA Saves.


  1. no matter what the situation, what the background, any kid (every kid) feels like he needs a lifeline at some point. Books are lifelines, they do save (and not just kids, but that's another story.) Books show you that you are both extraordinary - that someone like you can save the world - and that you are average - that there are lots and lots of people who understand what you're going through. One of the things I love most about writing/reading YA and MG is that I feel more connected to my own kids and kids in my community. Books are magic. :)

  2. I think there's a story in there ...


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