Welcome back! It’s another hump day and we are exploring some more of our favorite literary tropes in YA fiction. “Trope” is defined as an overused theme, and we embrace and enjoy them again and again. Last week we investigated old clunkers: cars with “character” driven by some of our favorite characters. This week let us delve into the “I already know you introduction.” Typically, it goes something like this:
“Hi, I’m so-and-so.”
“I know who you are, we’ve been going to the same school since [fill in the blank] grade.”
And a friendship is sealed.
Most teenagers’ worlds are confined by the great equalizer: high school. So often when teens “meet” each other, they already know each other. Depending on the size of the school and the all-powerful degree of popularity… this can make for some fun meeting scenes in YA literature. Let’s get to know this trope, shall we?
The Spectacular Now (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) by Tim Tharp: The “I already know you introduction” happens when Sutter meets Aimee; he is passed out on a stranger’s lawn with no memory of how he got there or where his car is; she is up bright and early delivering newspapers. Nice to “meet” you! Aimee knows Sutter– everybody knows Sutter. But Sutter does not know Aimee. In typical Tharp style, he says it all here in just a few sentences. Party boy with heart Sutter is one of the best flawed heroes in YA lit. And book worm Aimee with a hidden zest for life is a wonderful yin to Sutter’s yang.
Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian: Hallie meets Sean at a barn party. Hallie is a senior, beautiful, and popular. She introduces herself to Sean but he of course already knows who she is. Perhaps Hallie chooses Sean because of his younger age, relative inexperience, and puppy-dog like affection for her. What does this say about Hallie’s state of mind?
Knights of the Hill Country (2007 Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 Popular Paperbacks) by Tim Tharp: Hampton’s friends meet Sara. When football ranks higher than God, what does that make the players? Hampton Green is famous at Kennisaw High because he is “knight.” But Hampton is different from his loud, hot-tempered, and conceited teammates. Hampton and quiet intelligent Sara hit it off, despite outward differences. But when the odd couple are sitting together in the local “Tastee Freeze” and the rest of the Knights stroll in, there is a very chilly introduction. Not one of the players have any idea who Sara is, though as she points out, they have been in class together since the eighth grade.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Beautiful outspoken Willowdean and football hero Mitch have been in the same grade for years. But like a good Southern gentleman Mitch introduces himself to her politely. Aww…. Mitch: you are so sweet! Willowdean feels some camaraderie with Mitch, nonetheless, she is interested in someone else whom she thinks is out of her league.
Do you think how you meet is important? Have you ever “met” someone you actually already know? Awkward. And, by the way… has anyone else noticed a lot of introductions in YA lit lately going something like this: “I’m Tara, by the way.”
Join us next Wednesday as we explore another literary trope: “I have to take care of my parent(s).”
—Tara Kehoe, currently reading Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian