I lead my 8-year-old daughter’s Brownie Troop, and I’m lucky enough to be good friends with several of the mothers. One day over Starbucks with two of the moms, my friends Lynn and Nyree suggested we have a YA book club, and that I should pick the books, since I read so many. How could I say no to that? So we started our very own “Moms Who Love YA” book club, and read three books I already knew were excellent: “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell; “Jellicoe Road” by Melina Marchetta and “Out of the Easy” by Ruta Sepetys. Four weeks and three books later, we got together at Lynn’s for homemade chocolate chip scones, good coffee and great conversation. Here are snippets of what we talked about:
- The singularity of attraction: Rainbow has discussed this many times on Twitter and in interviews, and I think it’s one of the best parts of reading a book from multiple perspectives. We see how beautiful Eleanor thinks Park is and vice versa. That’s how we feel when we’re in love. The overwhelming feeling of how great that person is *to you* is why we fall in love. The same thing with Jonah and Taylor. They have this amazing connection that only they share. That trip on the train at age 14 saves both of their lives in more ways than one. They mean more to each other than they can even explain.
- Wanting to be seen and to belong: Lynn and Nyree are both social workers, and they both have fascinating perspectives on the importance of belonging, and how many people don’t feel like they belong in their families. Josie in “Out of the Easy” has a terrible mother; Eleanor has an abusive stepfather and an abused mother; Jonah killed his father; Taylor’s mother is a junkie. These characters need to belong, and they find that in the people they come to love in the books.
- Rising above the brokenness: There’s a lot of sadness in these three books, but in each of the stories the characters rise above their broken down situations. They realize, however slowly, that they ARE worthy of love of an education of a family and “people” and lifelong friends. Life has been really crappy to many of the characters, but these kids finally open their hearts to the right people and realize that they are loved, their hurts will heal, their lives will go on.
I can’t wait until the next meeting, when we discuss “Chime,” “Divergent,” and “Graffiti Moon.”