Mental Illness As Young Adult Material

by |
10/13/2008 1:00 PM |

An interesting pair of new book deals this week, according to Publisher’s Lunch:

Children’s: Fantasy
Caitlin Kittredge’s YA fantasy trilogy THE IRON CODEX, beginning with THE WITCH’S ALPHABET, a series set in a Lovecraftian industrial city in an alternate 1950s that centers on a mechanically gifted young girl approaching her 16th birthday, the age at which everyone in her family goes insane, leaving it up to her to unravel the mystery of their madness — and save the world, to Krista Marino at Delacorte, in a pre-empt, by Rachel Vater at Folio Literary Management (NA).


Children’s: Young Adult
Marianna Baer’s debut IMMACULATE, in which a 15 year old struggles with the impossible fact of her virgin pregnancy while others, including her Brooklyn City Council-candidate father, impose their own ideas and agendas, along with a second novel, FROST HOUSE, the story of a senior at a New England boarding school who must take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe when confronted not only with an eccentric, unstable new roommate, but with the demons, both psychological and supernatural, haunting her dorm, to Kristin Daly at Balzer & Bray, in a pre-empt, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (NA).

I find this particularly interesting given that depression and mental illness, in general, is becoming something that’s more and more acceptable for women to discuss in public forums.

I’ve read about it regularly on Dooce,
and more and more conventional lady-mags appear to be running various
first-person “Hey, I’m on SSRIs, and I’m okay now” stories. I know
everyone hates her now because of what she wrote about David Foster
Wallace and her hot silver leotard, but didn’t Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation,
which came out in 1995, push the young person’s individual struggle
with depression into our cultural dialogue? There have been so many
memoirs since then, and now, it’s even a part of Y.A. fantasy.

I also don’t think it’s an accident that everyone has become so quick
to joke about our current economic troubles as the “Greatest
Depression,” hah, hah. If depression and anxiety were still
unmentionables, the expression wouldn’t be considered as darkly funny
as it is. Nor do I think it’s simply a coincidence that these two
titles have been purchased at this point in time: even kids are feeling
the pinch. Not surprisingly, the majority of the Youngs profiled in Jan
Hoffman’s Sunday Styles piece “The Frugal Teenager, Ready or Not” are
pampered and insufferable. But when you watch the accompanying video-essay, and
listen to the private school senior who fears she won’t be able to be
the first person in her family to attend university due to the credit
crisis, a greater sense of perspective is possible. Even kids want to
cling to stories that somehow reflect the time they’re living in. This
includes the saga of a girl who attempts to save the world along with
her sanity.