FROM THE (NEW) EDITOR
Having served with Robert Small before as co-editor of another journal, I welcomed the opportunity to again work with him when the ALAN Board asked me to become co-editor of The ALAN Review. I also believe fervently in the power of young adult literature to help students discover themselves as readers and to help them understand themselves and the world in which they live.
Adolescence is a wild mixture of laughter, uncertainty, anxiety, dependence, independence, tears, problems of all kinds, and more. Who among us, when we dream of that perfect age we would like to go back to, chooses adolescence? Not many I imagine, for we remember clearly the struggle to understand ourselves, to learn about others, and to cope with increasingly more demanding problems.
The articles in this issue provide different voices and varying views of young adult problem novels and the young adults who read them. The first three articles deal with homophobia. Bette Greene discusses her research for writing The Drowning of Stephan Jones and speaks out powerfully against the hate crimes and oppression of gay and lesbian youth. In an interview with Lynne Alvine, Bette extends her discussion of injustice. Then Nan Phifer describes how she uses A. M. Homes' novel Jack to help her students understand the problems of homosexuals.
In a world filled with warring brothers and warring nations, Marion Dane Bauer, author of Rain of Fire and other novels, believes that selected literature can help young people envision the possibilities of peace. Marvin Hoffman writes about novels dealing with death that can help students cope with death in their own lives.
Other articles look at using problem novels and nonfiction and a variety of teaching strategies to motivate reluctant readers. But whatever the book or whatever the strategy, the one basic ingredient to becoming a reader is finding that first book, the one that draws you into the story so deeply that the world outside does not exist for you. Some of these problem novels may be just that kind of book for some of your students.