Tag Archives: guest post

ICYMI: Why Young Adult Books are so Addictive: Then and Now By Christine Bailey

CanonQuest 500x750

If you haven’t read J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, you’re missing out. Arguably the first young adult novel, Catcher sets the stage for other teen protagonists dealing with the adolescent angst we’ve come to love in today’s novels. Or maybe the first YA novel was Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer. Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by taking a trip back in time—with either book. You might even realize, like I did, that these teen worlds are not so different from ours today. Okay, so they didn’t have cell phones and social media back then, but they did have love and heartbreak.

I recently had the chance to sit down with a few teens and discuss this book with them. Here’s a comment from Lauren about the protagonist Holden Caulfield as an outsider:  “Holden, though likeable, isn’t always tolerated well by the people in his life such as his roommates and the kids at school. Along with his occasionally annoying personality, Holden is set apart because he doesn’t put forth effort in school. He has attended and flunked out of multiple schools, and he spends most of his time talking about how phony everyone is. Why does Holden act like this? Why not study hard and prepare for the future? He fears the future. He fears growing up. He remembers childhood and the innocence that came with it, unwilling to accept change and move forward with his life.”

Relevant? Relatable? Absolutely! So while Catcher was published in 1951, the themes throughout the novel still speak to audiences today. Plus, it has a great plot, suspense, and a main character you’ll be pulling for until the very last page—much like the good YA books we’re reading today. If you get the chance, read it and compare it to a more recent YA book—let us know what you think. What’s stayed the same? What’s changed? Thanks for stopping by!

Irish Keys by Claire Fullerton

GUEST POST BY CLAIRE FULLERTON, AUTHOR OF DANCING TO AN IRISH REEL

Claire with Key

I’ve had many people ask about a certain picture on my website, where I’m standing against a gray stone wall on a windswept day, in the middle of an Irish field, with what are obviously the ruins of a monastery behind me. Observant people said to themselves, “Wait, there’s a ruined monastery behind her, why is her back turned as she looks into the camera, holding a set of keys in her hand as if it were the bigger focal point?” I’m so glad for the opportunity to explain.

We kind of knew where we were heading, my friend Tama and I, and by this I mean we had a loose plan with regard to how we were going to spend the afternoon in Gort, Ireland. We’d been freewheeling across the countryside in a rented car the size of a match box, with its steering wheel on the right side, while we drove on the left of the two-lane road as if trying to best a test for dyslexia.

Tama is a devout Catholic, who has a thing about historic churches, which is why we couldn’t have adhered to a plan had we had one. “Stop,” Tama would shout every time we spied one of the dim, ominous structures off in the distance. We’d scratch the gravel driveway and wander inside, our solitary footsteps crossing the marble floor in a tread- ye- lightly and humble yourself echo off the cavernous vaulted ceiling. We did this so many times that after yet another sweep inside a church, I’d take to wandering the halcyon graveyards to read the Irish tombstone inscriptions, while Tama would light a red votive candle and fall to her pious knees.

I thought I was alone in the yard when a voice came sailing from behind me. “Have you found your way to Kilmacduagh monastery?” it queried. I turned to find a young woman taking in my outlander attire of three quarter down jacket and rubber soled shoes. “It’s just up the road there,” she continued, pointing. “Just knock on the door of the middle house across the road and ask Lily for the keys.”

I was standing behind Tama when she knocked on the front door of a low slung house on a sparsely populated lane. Across the lane, placid fields of damp clover shimmered in the afternoon mist as far as the eye could see. On one verdant field, a series of interspersed ruins jutted in damp metal-gray; some without roofs, some with wrought-iron gates, and one in particular beside an impressively tall stone spire, which had  two windows cut in vertical slashes above a narrow door raised high from the ground. Immediately the front door opened, and a pair of blue water eyes gave us the once over with an inquisitive, “Yes?”

“Are you Lily? We’re here for the keys,” Tama said.

“The keys, is it? Just a moment there,” the woman said, and after closing the door, she opened it seconds later and handed us a set of long metal keys. “Just slip them through the door slot when you’re through,” she said, closing the door with a quick nod.

I can’t say there was any indication of which key went to what, among the cluster of gates and doors throughout the 7th century monastery called Kilmacduagh, but we figured it out. I was so tickled over the keys that I couldn’t get over it. “Is this weird?” I said to Tama. “We could be anybody. It’s not that there’s anything anybody could steal, but that’s not the point.” I could wax rhapsody over the hours we spent unlocking gates and pushing through doors in the eerie, hallowed grounds, but that’s not my point either. My point is that’s Ireland for you: a stranger offering directions without being asked, Lily handing over the keys like an afterthought, and Tama and I trolling the grounds of sacred space when nobody else was around. But suddenly a German couple appeared as we were on our way back up the lane. They looked at us wide eyed and queried, “What is this place?”

“It’s a 7th century monastery,” I said, “here, take the keys and slip them through Lily’s door when you’re through.”

Irish Keys

I’ve had many people ask about a certain picture on my website, where I’m standing against a gray stone wall on a windswept day, in the middle of an Irish field, with what are obviously the ruins of a monastery behind me. Observant people said to themselves, “Wait, there’s a ruined monastery behind her, why is her back turned as she looks into the camera, holding a set of keys in her hand as if it were the bigger focal point?” I’m so glad for the opportunity to explain.

We kind of knew where we were heading, my friend Tama and I, and by this I mean we had a loose plan with regard to how we were going to spend the afternoon in Gort, Ireland. We’d been freewheeling across the countryside in a rented car the size of a match box, with its steering wheel on the right side, while we drove on the left of the two-lane road as if trying to best a test for dyslexia.

Tama is a devout Catholic, who has a thing about historic churches, which is why we couldn’t have adhered to a plan had we had one. “Stop,” Tama would shout every time we spied one of the dim, ominous structures off in the distance. We’d scratch the gravel driveway and wander inside, our solitary footsteps crossing the marble floor in a tread- ye- lightly and humble yourself echo off the cavernous vaulted ceiling. We did this so many times that after yet another sweep inside a church, I’d take to wandering the halcyon graveyards to read the Irish tombstone inscriptions, while Tama would light a red votive candle and fall to her pious knees.

I thought I was alone in the yard when a voice came sailing from behind me. “Have you found your way to Kilmacduagh monastery?” it queried. I turned to find a young woman taking in my outlander attire of three quarter down jacket and rubber soled shoes. “It’s just up the road there,” she continued, pointing. “Just knock on the door of the middle house across the road and ask Lily for the keys.”

I was standing behind Tama when she knocked on the front door of a low slung house on a sparsely populated lane. Across the lane, placid fields of damp clover shimmered in the afternoon mist as far as the eye could see. On one verdant field, a series of interspersed ruins jutted in damp metal-gray; some without roofs, some with wrought-iron gates, and one in particular beside an impressively tall stone spire, which had  two windows cut in vertical slashes above a narrow door raised high from the ground. Immediately the front door opened, and a pair of blue water eyes gave us the once over with an inquisitive, “Yes?”

“Are you Lily? We’re here for the keys,” Tama said.

Dancing Review