Saturday, March 20, 2010

Authors That Broadened My Horizons [Author Appreciation Week] #aa (@cindypon @carolbooks)

Author Appreciation Week is hosted by Heidi R. Kling.

Today I'm writing a little bit about YA authors whose work has opened my mind, broadened my horizons, and culturally enriched my life.  There are undoubtedly a lot more writers and works out there that have achieved this for me, but these are the ones that stand out most prominently in my mind.

Cindy Pon probably didn't expect to see herself on this list.  But, she's on here in the first position, because when I thought of this topic, I thought immediately of her.  I was uber-reluctant to read SILVER PHOENIX because it was a completely foreign culture, and in a genre that is typically iffy for me (fantasy).  BUT, I loved it.  Adored it really.  Took it with me everywhere I could because I wanted to know what happened next.  I was a girl that was wholly unfamiliar with everything that had to do with Chinese culture.  I'll admit to being in a local Chinese grocery a handful of times, but that was only to buy chopsticks.  I felt uncomfortable in the setting, and didn't really feel like I understood the paradigm that was before me.  It was completely foreign, and thus, a little scary.  After SILVER PHOENIX, I still don't feel at home in Lee Lee's, but you know what?  I've gone four times this last year.  Four times just to see what I could discover.  This work prodded me to do some research on Chinese culture, and their history, research I wouldn't have done if I hadn't read SP.  So, Cindy, thanks for helping me broaden my horizons and add a layer of depth to my cultural knowledge.

Carol Lynch Williams wrote about polygamous cults in THE CHOSEN ONE. Since I live in a state that has an entire city filled with practicing polygamists, I thought I had a handle on the issue.  I didn't.  Before reading TCO, I could never understand what kept girls from running away, could never understand the psychology behind their choices.  I won't spoil the book for you if you haven't read it yet, but not only was this one a tear-jerker for me (which in itself is a rarity), it was an eye opener, and I felt impelled to do more research and learn more because of it.

Julia Hoban wrote about another practice I never understood in WILLOW.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why in the world someone would voluntarily mutilate their body like that by cutting themselves.  I read about Willow and her journey of heartbreak and healing, and then I got it.  I totally understood.  It was like there was this sudden clarity and I felt like I had an understanding.  I could empathize.  Last October, at Disneyland, I saw a woman with scars on her arms from cutting.  The scars were old, and she had a young child.  She was wearing a tank top and was obviously unashamed of the scars and she seemed to be genuinely happy.  Before I read W, I would have probably not even known what they were from.  After I read W, I silently congratulated her for overcoming whatever terror it was that haunted her, and did it with a smile on my face.

These three novels, all read within the last year, all did things to help me grow as a person.  I really appreciate these authors for giving me this opportunity to grow!  (Oh, and if you want... win a signed copy the UK version of WILLOW, SCARRED  and/or a signed copy of SILVER PHOENIX as part of our MONSTER birthday party!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As happy as I am to see myself on this list, I was even more moved to read what you had to say about Cindy Pon's influence on you. That is EXACTLY what good literature should do, broaden your horizons. Congrats to Cindy for having this effect on you, and kudos to you as well to be willing to experience new worlds....

And thanks for putting me on this list as well, what an honor!!

Julia Hoban