October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Sharlena Luyen, age 17.
A book about love: how cliche. Pre-teen Sharlena didn’t think so. Love was a wonder full of lust, magic, and mystery. Hot, steamy scenes of two people caring for one another: such an overly fantasized situation for the world. At age 12, I was stuck on how Becca Fitzpatrick played me for a fool, for she had me believing that the badass, feisty Patch was out to save Nora Grey’s life, for he was falling in love, â€œinevitably.â€ Drawn in closer as the pattern of Patch neglecting Nora was becoming increasingly more common in Hush, Hush, I wanted someone to care for me like they did for each otherâ€”no matter what happened, he would always hover over her, ever-so-slightly, to make sure nothing bad would happen to her. In fact, it happened so often that she eventually depended on him to save her life. How great would that be? I’m sure all of our parents could go to bed safe and sound at night, knowing that we would always be alright in the morning. With protection 100% of the time, I think I would live my life a little more on the edge…which is exactly what Nora did.
Not only did she start becoming more dangerous, but she found a new disregard for rules. Perfectly fit, eh? He protects her, she cares about life less. She’s the ying to his yang. And then you guess it, she’s kidnapped. (In a dark shed in the middle of the night at a broken-down amusement park, I might add.)
Once this novel ended, I knew I was in for some trouble.
You know how it is, reading an unfinished series is like setting yourself up for an emotional train wreck: and what comes next? Oh God, the cliffhangers. I was closing in on the third novel, and the fourth was expected a year later: October 5, 2011. Now there I was, just wading in the yellow zone in 2010. Somewhere between 2010 and 2012, a chic white convertible of opportunity and adventure passed by, and I jumped in, heart first. Over the years, I worked with several youth, initiating a community service project with a nationwide nonprofit. And I had a change of heart and learned to be a softer person, no longer having a need or desire for sticky and steamy; my love revolved around the youth of my community, now. Bigger things called and I grew up– from writing business emails with â€œstandard, professional, proper formatting,â€ to refusing to give up at 4am with tons of things to do. I grew up–over 3 years. (I don’t think I really grew up, but that’s what I’m going with, for now.)
As I dusted the old thoughts of Patch off of Hush, Hush, I read about the young love of Nora and Patch once more, four out of four novels at this point.
This time around, I gawked at Nora’s incompetence and Patch’s lack of aggression for his love. Yes, his real, raw love. His silly games are irrelevant. I couldn’t stand how Nora simply let herself be trapped by Patch’s game. It was now evident that she wanted him to save her; to me, she purposely played the role of a maiden in need of help. It was pitiful to read about her weakness and inability to protect herself.
In high school, we fail to dwell on the necessary attributes of a powerful, intelligent woman. The modern woman is a fighter for woman’s rights — not only do teachers adore the strength of Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but they also mock the indecisive superficial Daisy in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. In today’s world, at my age of 17, it is not difficult to tolerate an Incompetent girl like Nora. It just makes me wonder when novels will instill a woman worth admiring. My role models revolve around Meg from Hercules; my skill in life is to have the ability to recite “I won’t say I’m in love,” at any time of day. And let me tell you, I’ve already won the prize for rotten judgment. And Mulan can definitely “Make a Man Out of [Me].” My question to you is, will you remain a pawn in this conformist society and condemn yourself to this predetermined box of capabilities, or will you grow wings with razors as feathers, daring everyone and anyone to challenge your ability?
With time as the only factor that remains constant on this earth, it is a wonder how my ideas and perception changed with 3 mere years. Could it be that my priorities changed? My personality? What made me change the way I look at this simplistic yet complex love story?
– Sharlena Luyen: A flawed perfectionist, Sharlena aims to be the best she can be. A genuine personality. A killer work ethic. A strong, mighty heart of passion. This writer looks forward to talking with you soon!