Genre Guide: Westerns for Teens

By Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Collection, bought by the National Park Service in 1972 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Collection, bought by the National Park Service in 1972 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Definition

Traditional western novels denote a sense of the “Old West” as defined as a time period of American history from about the 17th century to the early 20th century where new settlers dealt with the harsh landscape, lawlessness, and/or the loner who exacts vengeance in the name of doing what is right. For westerns that are written for teens, however, they don’t always follow all the typical western tropes, but most commonly some of these themes are paired with the main character or characters coming of age through the story.

Authors to Know

There aren’t many authors who are well-known for writing westerns for teens, however here are some of the more well-known western authors:

  • Loius L’Amour
  • Zane Grey
  • Larry McMurtry
  • Cormac McCarthy

Characteristics

The setting of western novels usually deem that they be set in western America.  However, westerns can take place in other geographical settings where the landscape may mimic that of the “Old West.”  So, it can be a landscape where there is a search for a valuable mineral or material, or there are desolate conditions that are hard to survive, or it is a new land that settlers must figure out how to tame.  Whatever the case, a richly detailed landscape is one of the main characteristics of a western novel.  Also, a civilized society does not exist in most western novels, usually because the land has been uninhabited and it has yet to be developed. Traditionally, western novels are set in the time period of the “Old West,” but when it comes to western novels written for teens, they do not need to be set in a historically accurate time.  They can be set in the past, alternate past, present, and even future. Continue reading Genre Guide: Westerns for Teens

What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2

parks-and-recreationThe time has come to recommend more books to our friends in Pawnee.  I feel like I might have left the more difficult characters for this entry.  Last month, I chose books for Leslie, Ben, April, and Andy.  So let’s get started and see what we have this time around.

Tom Haverford – It is not difficult to select books for Tom. Basically, all you have to do is tell him that a celebrity endorsed the book and he would be all over it.  However, I do think that is a bit like cheating.  There has to be a bookSo Yesterday that fits Tom’s personality and passion for the jet-setter life.  There is a book– and it’s called So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection).  Before the name Westerfeld became synonymous with the Uglies series, he wrote So Yesterday.  In this standalone novel, Hunter has the responsibility to find the Innovators, people who start trends, and present them to the retail market.  Tom, with his big ideas like Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag, will love the adventure Hunter embarks on in a city full of unknown pockets of cool.  Unfortunately Pawnee is not a hub of trendsetting activity.  Tom can live vicariously through Hunter’s story.  Another title that Tom may enjoy is Feed by M.T. Anderson.  In Feed, it is commonplace for everyone to have a feed similar to the Internet directly inputted into your brain.  The program learns your likes and dislikes and sends you advertisements customized to you.  Tom would love having all of that knowledge at his fingertips.  Continue reading What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2