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Dealing with Tragedy and Terrorism in YA Lit

Last Patriot’s Day – a state holiday observed predominantly in Massachusetts but Maine and Wisconsin get in there  Massachusetts honoring the first American patriots of the Revolution – was a strange and hard day for many of us in the Bay State. It was a day off for many, and a start to school vacations for most students. There was the perennially inspiring promise of the Boston Marathon with such big stories as the amazing elite runners, the Hoyt father/son team running their last race, and the triumphs of every day people running their first or special race.

Shoes at the Boston marathon bombing memorial 2013 photo by Flickr user Megan Marrs
Shoes at the Boston marathon bombing memorial 2013 photo by Flickr user Megan Marrs

Then the bombs went off and the difficulty began. Over the next few days and since then, I’ve thought how about the marathon bombings might affect teens and especially those teens who may  have been on lockdown in their homes in Boston and many surrounding cities as the hunt for the subjects spewed gunfire along their streets.

One year later, I’ve looked to YA literature to see if anything can help us and help those teens near the disaster to deal with it. A far as I know no YA novels have been written about the tragedy yet, but it may happen as it does with many major news stories. Instead here are some books deal with running injuries or terrorism and the healing that can come after those.

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowtiz – Set in 2002 with the two main characters still reeling from the September 11 attacks in their two respective hometowns of Washington D.C. and New York, Craig and Lio try to figure out how to be normal teens in love when the Beltway sniper attacks start. I admit to having mostly forgotten about these murders when I picked up the book, but Moskowtiz captures what I would the imagine the paranoia and terror of that situation would feel like. Through her two characters, she allows us to ponder the meaning of safety and how that affects who we love and how we recover from trauma. 

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