Oh geez, guys. So this month I reread some really great books, but I already kind of wrote about them! But I think I just want to talk more about why I love these books so much.
So, I reread The Wednesday Wars, which I had read several times before. Then I picked up the companion novel, Okay for Now, which I'd only read once before I was worried. What if I didn't like it as much as the first time? What if I didn't have the same emotional reaction to it? And then I did and all worries disappeared!
I think . . . now that I've put some thought into, I think that what is so amazing about these books can come down to about 3 things.
1) The innocence of the narrators.
I think there is definitely a difference between innocence and naivete, and this book really does show that difference. They tell the story in simple terms, bringing you into their lives, but not revealing anything they don't want to until they feel like it. They portray growing up in the 1960s so clearly, without a lot of thought about the outside world, because, let's face it, they are 12. But at the same time they are completely aware of what is going on with the Vietnam War, and everything else going on at that time period. It's amazing.
2) The presence of good adults who are not parents.
Usually one of the main factors of the YA "genre" is the lack of adults/adult interaction. But what makes these books so good is that there are good, caring adults, and that they come in the form of teachers and librarians. I think it's great to show teens that there are people that they can trust and that will help them, even when it seems like everyone else isn't there.
3) The deliberate writing of Gary D. Schmidt
It is so obvious while reading these books that Schmidt (tangent: anyone think it's a little unnatural to have so many consonants in a row? Seven letters and only one is a vowel? Sorry, I was just looking at it and thinking, that is such a weird name.) wrote everything so deliberately. I guess a lot of what I wrote on number 1 can apply here. The way these books are written, they are written to show you exactly everything that you need to know to emotionally connect to these characters. Schmidt is a master of showing, not telling. And it seems that every character grows and changes throughout the books, even the minor ones. There is no character that remains the same from beginning to end, even though it might seem like it at first. The relationships between the main characters and their siblings, and between their friends, their parents, their teachers, mentors, etc., are all very carefully crafted.
I'm a little bit of a hypocrite because I hate people giving me expectations, because then I feel disappointed if those expectations aren't met, and here I am going on and on about how much I loved these books. But there you go. I'm a hypocrite. :)