Lessons are often a part of the discussion about children's and YA literature. What lessons are we teaching? Which characters are role models? What's the moral of the story?
Not everyone agrees that this literature must be lesson-driven. Sarah Ockler writes: "... the purpose of young adult fiction is singular:
to tell a story. Period. Learning lessons and adjusting moral compasses
might be an outcome of the reading, but that’s entirely up to the
reader." Also, "We create to share stories and make real human
connections to universal truths and experiences, not to teach
I've been getting more and more
uncomfortable with the "role-model" school of thought. My characters are
not paragons of virtue; nor are they villains who are duly punished.
They are not always likable or admirable. They make mistakes, they
suffer, they learn things. Not every character receives a reward or
punishment for every action. The "good" guys have flaws and the "bad"
guys have saving graces. In these respects, I try to create fictional
worlds that resemble the real one.
So what am I doing, if not
trying to teach lessons? I think I am just trying to express something
that rings true to me, that I hope will ring true for many readers. I'm
highlighting some part of human experience, trying to bring it into
sharper focus, to show it from certain angles. To encourage people to think about
it. I've long said that I'm more of a descriptive writer ("this is the
way things often are") than a prescriptive writer ("this is the way
things should be").
This is a crazy world we live in. I'm just trying to make some sense of it, in my own small way.