Wednesday, January 4, 2017
The Memory of Light review
Young Adult books in which the protagonist battles some kind of mental or emotional disorder are always a go-to read for me. Seeing young teens every day at work reminds me that I was also one, and that they come with emotions and thought processes that we don't always understand, or remember to try to understand. Even the most well-adjusted teens and young adults can often relate some aspect of these books, whether it's conflict with parents and siblings, or pressure to succeed in school or extra-curricular activities, feeling socially awkward and outcast or just struggling to understand who you really are inside.
I think these books have intrinsic value in collections for those reasons, and even if the reader does not share the same mental/emotional issue that the book's character does, it promotes awareness that everyone struggles with something.
I was a bit disappointed that this novel read like many of the others I've read: girl tries to kill herself, girls gets hospitalized, girl makes friends at hospital who have similar issues and she realizes that she is not alone and that there is support available for her if she has the courage to seek it, etc. I think the best thing about this particular novel is that it focuses on a group of Mexican-American teens, and the doctor who works with them is Indian. It is vital that people understand that mental and emotional health problems do not affect only one skin color, or one economic class. I've read so many books with these themes that take place in upper-middle class suburban neighborhoods and focus on white teen girls.
Of course those stories do have a place and a significance, but they seem to have proliferated over the past decade or so, making books that feature other races and demographics that much more necessary in order to paint a better picture of the problem itself.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks is a movement that specifically aims to increase the availability of children's literature that includes a wide array of races, religions, heritages, genders, sexual orientations and beyond.
By featuring several Mexian-American teens, one from an affluent family and the others from blue collar families an Indian psychiatrist, references to the Hindu god Ganesh, the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, Stork certainly has a winning contribution to the movement. Although I was disappointed in the storyline focusing on Vicky's depression because it was par for the course as YA novels go, I applaud the characters he creates as well as the cultural references which may pique a reader's interest and encourage them to learn more about them.