Huckleberry Friend

We're after the same…

bakingIn this high-concept, first-person present-tense, mean girls world, warm and cozy is not a YA genre.

But maybe it should be.

Here’s what’s on my teenage girls’ Christmas wish list: fuzzy socks, fluffy robes, animal slippers, furry pillows. Retail’s ready to accommodate—shopping won’t be difficult.

I’m sensing a trend with a capital ‘T,’ and here’s what I think is lurking behind: Kids are craving a squashy place to land.

Can you blame them? School—now only a portion of a busy day— is crazy hard. Kids have been served up piles of homework since the first grade to prep them for the right college, for which they should’ve picked their major by puberty. Teens’ texting, Tweet-ing fingers are nimble and quick—now there are new, lightning fast ways to be bullied, to feel bad about yourself because you weren’t invited, to win the snarkiest comment contest.

But everyone knows all that and more.

I’ve a sneaking suspicion that YAs, whom we spoon-feed meals on the go and drug talks and dystopia, might be pining for something thoughtful—slow-cooked or fresh baked.

Can someone just give me a freakin’ cookie? Please?

Not that my novels are cookies, or, God forbid, furry pillows. They’re not overly sweet, and they include a dash of salt and a dose of tough reality.

But I’m betting with a capital “B”—and I hope a big New York publishing house will, too—that a book with a little warmth, gentle wit and wisdom (sans sermons) is what’s in order to soften all those hard edges.

Remember reading books with atmosphere? Who doesn’t love getting lost in a place, in a family—despite its quirks and dysfunctions—in a band of friends and misfits you kind of wish were yours?

We’ve been living in a strange land of big stories. But there are small stories within all of them, and those, I’d argue, are the ones that can get under our skin. What, you may ask, is at stake in a quieter story? Why, the very soul of a young person facing a crossroads! That’s the sort of thing that can break our hearts, if we still have them.

Cutting-edge warm-and-cozy, the next frontier. Who knew?

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