I’m 23, and unlike the rest of my colleagues in the Popular Team, my teenage years didn’t occur in a different century. Ah, bet that makes ’em all feel really old! As one of the ‘yoof’ Bronnypop speaks of , I think I have the necessary qualifications required to comment on all matters relating to young people. Today I’d like to talk about adults pretending to be teenagers, either by writing like one or acting like one in front of a camera.
Some of these adults give real teenagers a bad reputation. Perhaps it is because I am still within the realm of youthdom, but it irks me greatly whenever I read a book or watch a film or a television programme that depicts young people as mumbling, sulky troublemakers or ditzy, spoilt consumers. Clearly people who dream up such characters have completely lost touch with their former teen selves and refuse to consult another more modern teenager, instead relying only on stereotypes for inspiration. And don’t even get me started on the dialogue these authors and scriptwriters invent to try to prove they still are ‘hip’ and ‘down wit da kidz’. All that outdated and overused slang is just plain painful to read or listen to!
I mean, give us some credit. Us young’uns are capable of intelligent conversation from time to time. Our vocabulary isn’t always limited to grunts and snorts; in fact we can be quite articulate when we want to be. That’s why I love it when I come across books written by adults who manage to successfully capture what it really means to be young. Such authors are able to write from the perspective a young person in a way that gives an authentic voice to the story’s narrator.
The teenagers in these novels are imaginative, innocent yet wary, clever and witty, hungry for life experience but vulnerable to mistakes, charming, unapologetically honest, rebellious, sweet and infuriating at the same time. They are brave, adventurous, empowered by their sense of immortality. They live somewhat instinctually, love from the deepest parts of their heart, act with passion and give serious thought to the world around them. And unlike those who have grown cynical in adulthood, the way they look at life still has that dreamer’s quality, that unending hopefulness.
My favourite adult novels narrated by a child or teenager are:
- The Lovely Bones
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- The Secret Life of Bees
- The Dead Fathers Club
- The Bean Trees
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
- Worldwide Adventures in Love
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog
What are yours?