Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Laurie Halse Anderson

I just finished Fever 1793, written by Laurie Halse Anderson, and it left me a little confused about Anderson. Known for writing books about current issues that teens struggle with, I fail to see the message in this novel, other than yellow fever “was really bad”. Sure, the teenage girl had to struggle to grow and become responsible during that horrible year, but what’s the meaning for us today? I felt indifferent to both the plot and characters by the end.
I read Speak and Wintergirls this year, both written by Anderson, in an attempt to get a grasp on this award-winning author. Both books left me with an impression of-“Her intention for this book is blatantly obvious to me, but I am skeptical that it will accomplish its purpose for teen readers.”
Tackling tough issues like rape, suicide, drugs, (yellow fever?) etc. is courageous for any writer, particularly one who is targeting the complicated, critical audience of teen readers. However, Anderson’s novels, though well-written and bursting with symbolism, don’t quite ring true, in my opinion. You finish the book, everything wraps up nicely, and the teenagers move on to happy, healthy lives.
Everyone wants a happy ending, but Anderson just misses the mark of reality. Her goal seems to be to reach these struggling teenagers, relate to their lives, then give them hope. When I read these books, the girls’ struggles were cliché, and the answers to healing were straight out of a psychology textbook-not believable outside of her pages.
I am afraid that these books place Anderson in the category of authors who try too hard to get inside the mind of teenagers but are unable to break through to the real reasons behind their struggles.
Needless to say, Prom and Catalyst are low on my book list. But maybe she'll surprise me..


Bethany Wiggins said...

You have got to read Twisted by L. H. Anderson. It is amazing! And I absolutely loved Speak. I haven't read her others, but I am going to.

Thanks for the book reviews!

Bethany Grace said...

I did read Twisted a few weeks ago, and I thought it was better than the others. I recently read Catalyst as well, and it was slightly depressing, but interesting all the same....thanks for the comment!!!