In today’s review, Noreen reflects on some recent and not-so-recent trends in fiction for teens:
Having just read Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, I planned to blog about it. However, my colleague Jennifer D. had already done that. After reading the book and Jennifer’s post, I started thinking about all the paranormal literature that is being written for young adults, and how teens respond to it. While it is relatively new to today’s teens, after years of books like Sweet Valley High, supernatural fiction obviously isn’t all that new. We’ve had horror classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, but there were also popular supernatural romance stories in the 1940s and 50s.
After World War II, Daniel Bubbeo wrote a play, The Enchanted Cottage, which was partly written to ease the pain of the disfigured veterans who were returning home. The plot was simple—a homely maid and a scarred ex GI meet in a cottage. They decide to marry more out of loneliness than love. As the relationship deepens they become more and more beautiful to each other. The movie, starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire, with the help of an able make-up crew, actually shows the transformation of the characters.
And who can forget Portrait of Jennie. Eben Adams, a struggling artist, encounters a young girl in Central Park named Jennie who prattles on about things from the past. Just as Eben is about to ask her some questions, Jenny disappears. She reappears in future months looking a bit older each time. He paints her portrait, which turns out to be the turning point in his career. Eben also uncovers information that tells him he is falling in love with the ghost of a girl who perished during a hurricane years ago. On the anniversary of the hurricane, he rushes to the site where she supposedly perished. As a new storm approaches, Jennie disappears for a final time. Eben is almost convinced she was a figment of his imagination, until he realizes he is holding her scarf in his hand. He also realizes that their love will endure through the magic of his portrait.
Anna Dressed in Blood has the same emotional content as The Enchanted Cottage and the Portrait of Jennie. The difference is the violence in Anna Dressed in Blood. It makes me wonder if today’s books mirror what’s going on in our world. We seem to be a society filled with random violence, which is reflected in the literature. The question becomes: can an old fashioned love story stand on its own?
Check the WRL catalog for Portrait of Jennie