Volume 24, Number 1
Fall 1996

Patricia Kelly and Robert Small

This issue has a double focus: authors writing about their work as writers and teachers writing about female protagonists in young adult literature. In many ways Marc Talbert , Chris Lynch , and Herb Karl voice similar perspectives on the role of the writer and the impact of books on readers. All three discuss how writing, though drawn from experience, is still fiction. Yet that fiction presents a reality to us, its readers, that helps us see, understand, and experience emotions and events that we might never have the opportunity to do otherwise. Each also writes of the personal investment of self involved in writing a novel and then letting it go for readers to make their personal meanings of the text.

The messages about females and their roles are the concerns of the second group of writers in this issue. Caroline McKinney offers the concept of "second story," an implicit message or subtext, as one way to look at the influence of young adult literature on its femaleƊreaders. She then analyzes the second story in several YA novels with strong female characters. A similar theme appears in Lynn Moss Sanders' analysis of girls who take charge of their own circumstances even in fantasy fiction.

Kelly Chandler writes of a collaborative classroom project with her school nurse and the novel Make Lemonade , a project that opens the lines of communication about teen pregnancy, its realities and myths. Continuing the analysis of the Sweet Valley High Gang, Joyce Litton presents the "unrealities" of the characters and plots as the group goes to college.

Ways of broadening the canon by exploring female characters in other cultures are presented by Judith Hayn and Deborah Sherrill . And Sonja Darlington offers a challenge to the canon with Bastard Out of Carolina , an adult book that, much like The Catcher in the Rye , has the characteristics to "cross over" into young adult literature.