Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Witch Of Blackbird Pond

I know this is a classic. A Newberry award winner for juvenile fiction, I can hardly criticize such a loved book. Sadly, I did not read this when it was meant to be read, as a youth struggling to know it's more important to do the right thing than to fit in with what everybody else is doing.

Important, worthy lesson, but after reading two young adult novels this week with very similar themes (does this happen to anyone else? I always seem to inadvertently read books in "themes"), I feel there is something lacking when an adult reads young adult literature. Innocence, perhaps. It's too simple. The protagonists don't fit inside the story. They are almost always ahead of their times and privy to understanding that their peers don't seem to have access to. Where did Kit come from? Barbados, yes...but possibly from the 20th century as well? As modern readers, we have the hindsight to see and learn from the foibles of our ancestors and their limited understanding, but the author gave this sort of vision to Kit immediately.

I don't know if this is ever argued (and why am I arguing, didn't I promise not to?) but part of me feels like there is an anti-obedience theme in this book. Kit is almost always disobedient, and her disobedience always turned out to be the right thing to do. Because it's young adult literature, everything turns out fine in the end, but there is a difference in doing the right thing and doing what you want to. This is a much deeper discussion to be typed out here, and I won't blaspheme this good book any more. I know it's a favorite.

No comments: