Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

Lately my mind has decided to over-analyze YA, again, to the point of ad-nauseum. It is starting to annoy me. So, I have sought refuge in the one of the last hard-copy books I brought with me to Uruguay, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
I think I never told you this but I came across it on one of those “Books Written as Diary Entries, Texts, and Emails” lists librarians make for teens to find on rainy Wednesday afternoons when television seems too boring and homework is too mind numbing. But when I went to find the book, it was not there. So, instead I checked out Daniel Keyes’s “Flowers of Algernon.”
Each week I would go back to find the book still absent, still eluding me. This only made me want to find it more. You know how relentless I can be about such things. But then one day I saw it.

The subdued lime green cover intoxicated my eyes though its wear was apparent – there were various stained pages and the cover was bent and it smelled like people, readers, wanders.

So whenever people, especially you because I know that you discount YA sometimes even though I tell you otherwise, I reference this book.

I am currently reading it for the third time and it feels like the first. Charlie’s voice is still my voice even though I am no longer a teenager. The writing is still poignant and honest and direct. Reading it again makes me wish I could write like that too. Maybe that’s why I am writing to you. To show you that you can’t really ignore a book that makes you feel alive, and dare I write it – infinite – just because it is labeled with a Y and an A.

There was a time in college I was questioning my passion for YA. A part of me felt like I was wasting my time because I felt alone in my appreciation for these books, especially in an academic literary environment. Sure, I know what you’re thinking: “These books are everywhere, Lourdes! They finally have the recognition you have been babbling on about for ten years.” But, now I wonder if people are into YA because it is expected. I mean you have read “The Hunger Games.” I haven’t. A person who loves YA and everything associated with it has not read “The Hunger Games.” What is my problem?

I just need to understand why we need, you need, to overanalyze YA so much. Don’t get me wrong. There are an exorbitant number of things to analyze: writing styles, plot techniques, characterizations – looking at YA through these lenses is difficult, rewarding, and enriching. I have done all these things, but they are not why I love YA. Can’t I just read these books because they make me feel? Does this make me moronic or mentally underdeveloped because I need a static object to stimulate my emotions? Am I that detached?

I think this is why “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is my favorite book. It makes me feel. It makes me think. It makes me wonder. It makes me appreciate. It makes me alive.

When was the last time a book did all that for you?

And if this theoretical, life altering book made you feel, how can I come along and discredit it? In a roundabout way I am negating, ignoring your emotions, what makes you human. If I discredit this book I am also devaluing what it made you feel. I am labeling it as unimportant and uncultured. How can I value what you feel if it is based on something I don’t acknowledge as worthy? It is no longer a debate of literary merit but a discussion of emotional worth.

But you see I am over-analyzing YA again!

The next time I see you I hope I don’t find that you have taken this letter too personally. It is just what’s on my mind. You always tell me I need to express myself more. I guess I can only do it through a discussion of literature, of the young adult variety.

Love always,


* This blog entry has been written in the style of Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” The main character Charlie writes these letters to a person that is never revealed to the reader. The “Dear Friend” for me in this existence is left up to the reader to decide.

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