Sick, sad, or need rest? Youthful imagination can be the perfect balm | Wrote

There is just something about a mild case of the flu that immediately made me go back to my childhood.

Usually when sickness strikes, I’ll go to my parents’ house, take out the heat pack in the shape of a teddy bear and lie heavily on the couch, periodically ordering packaged macaroni and cheese or cups of tea.

While I’m there, my favorite indulgence is taking a shower while I retreat to my childhood bookshelf. It is filled with the oldest and most loved classics – Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green GablesSecret Garden and The Famous Five.

After reaching my mid-twenties, my favorite teenage novels brought me similar pleasure. The seminal romance of 2000’s The Princess Diaries is a favorite, as is Sarah Deisen, and both express the specific, all-consuming feeling of a 15-year-old who’s never quite reached.

When I got sick this winter, it was the first time I had the disease and my life in a foreign city. I couldn’t go back to my old books, and I felt vulnerable in a new way. I stared frankly at my bookshelf. I love The Bell Jar, but do I want to read it when I feel feverish and sweaty? Nobody makes me feel like Toni Morrison, but with a head full of snot?

Instead, I did what any sane adult would do: I put on a mask, a big comic jacket, and went by myself to a bookstore.

So my obsession with young adult stories began, a category traditionally marketed to preteens and teens 12-18 years old. Within two days, I finished it all Heartstopper series – A quirky graphic novel and romance recently published by Netflix Show So Cute.

I had my toes dipped, and now I’m ready to take the initiative.

Days later, I went back to the library, a little embarrassed, and bought every work of Heartstopper’s fiction, Alice OsmanWrote. solitaire – Posted when she was 19 – It was cool, but I especially adored it radio silenceA book I wish I had read as a teenager that brilliantly deals with mental illness, academic stress, and friendships.

Jean-Marie Morrosin, head of children’s publishing at Hachette — which brought Heartstopper to Australia — says it’s not surprising that Oseman’s work has appealed to older readers.

“For me, why young adults are such an emotional punch is that it takes you to a time before you make all the big decisions in your life, when everything is ahead of you and everything is exciting,” she says.

“As an adult, you had love that worked or didn’t work, you chose your career – but it takes you back to that exciting time when you’re on the cusp… you’ll never get that again.”

Heartstopper still
“It takes you back to that exciting time when you’re on the cusp”: Heartstopper’s screen mod premiered earlier this year. Photo: Netflix

The books have changed since I was growing up, too. In the ones I read when I was in the target demographic, romantic relationships between a boy and girl and characters of color slipped into the background; They certainly haven’t been upfront about issues of gender and race, as Starr on the next purchase, the hate you give.

“YA was way ahead of its time. It’s almost a problem if it’s not diverse,” says Morossin.

“It’s a testament and reflects the realities of the teens reading these books, their expectations, and how vocal they are about them. The publishers have been catching up with that demand.”

People have grown up not seeing themselves reflected in books and the arts. By producing books for everyone, you create a safe space.”

The most beloved authors of my childhood were Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy – cheerful and warm British writers who tell stories about young girls in working-class families with a heart, and are not afraid to write about adoption and divorce.

Wilson won the Guardian Award in 2000 for Photographer’s mothera beautiful novel about two sisters grappling with their mother’s mental illness, and the chaotic way families love and care for each other.

Still writing books two decades later, she’s 76 – and Kathy Cassidy, too.

Cassidy described her love of books to younger readers in List of guardians Among her top 10 Feel Happy novels, which included Jerry Spinelli’s modern fairy tale Stargirl, The Kingdom of Kinsuke by Michael Morpurgo And you’re gone, the secret garden.

“We all love a book that makes us feel warm inside, happy to be alive, though often touching, and bittersweet stories,” she said.

Publisher Morosin agrees: There is a “relief” to a familiar and beloved story.

“You’re re-reading it because you know what’s out there,” she says.

“It sounds cheesy, but…if I could give one child that comfort and nostalgia to spend the rest of his life with, what a privilege.”

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