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Paranormal Normal

One balmy night in June, 2008, I was on the top bunk in a large room-full of bunk beds in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, getting ready for lights out.  My neighbor, Kim, the mother of two older teenage daughters had her nose buried in Twilight. Another chaperone on our mission trip asked her why she was reading a vampire book, and she answered, “Because I want to know what all the kids are reading.”

Starting with that little snippet of conversation, I had a complete change of heart about Teen and Young Adult fiction and my journey began in earnest. Sure, I had read all of the Harry Potter books concurrently with my teenage daughters, and I had started reading them aloud to my younger children at bedtime, but to be honest, I preferred my own books.

After my epiphany, I made a conscious effort to branch out, and I’m so glad I did. There are many dynamic, engrossing stories in this niche. A huge majority of these titles are “coming of age” tales – my favorite kind.

Today’s Outlook – Paranormal with a 20% Chance of Realism

 

St. Andrew's Cathedral 1842

National Galleries of Scotland Commons

As I stand in front of the YA section in my local bookstore, I can’t help but notice how many titles come under the heading of “paranormal”.  Stories about everyday people set in the real world are currently the exception. Maybe the fairytale fad is like the weather cycle, colder years followed by warmer years, and the pendulum has swung away from “realistic” fiction so that now, paranormal is the norm.

Whatever the norm of the moment, I believe that the fairytale will always be with us.  We love to examine our world through a supernatural lens.  From Little Red Riding Hood and her lupine friend to Bella and Jacob, we comment on life lessons using the strange and powerful to add interest and also because, deep down, we are spiritual creatures aware of the overarching battle between good and evil that rages around us. The war is too much for us to handle on our own, and we want to believe there is something or someone out there larger and more powerful than ourselves who can deal with it.

Spiritual Orientation – There Are Angels Among Us

Paranormal fiction is peopled with characters of extraordinary and mystical abilities. Many of them are terrible and fearsome, but in many of the current best sellers, these supernaturally gifted characters are the ones who come to the rescue of the poor, ordinary humans.  Jacob’s tribe in Twilight, the Shadowhunters in the Mortal Instruments series, and even the genetically-altered kids in Maximum Ride are here to protect humans. In the Judeo-Christian lexicon, such creatures have a name – angels.

Making Choices

Some people would throw out the magical baby with the bath water, condemning Harry Potter and the like outright, because of the element of witchcraft integral to the story.

I’m not a proponent for every Teen or YA title, normal or paranormal.  Some titles have content that makes them poor or questionable reading material for the targeted age groups.

They don’t acknowledge that many classics, including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, Cinderella and most of the Brothers Grimm stories, have a component of magic.  It’s more consistent to make choices on a book-by-book basis, and to be prepared to discuss why the idea of magic is so attractive to humans. Those of us who believe in the supernatural, all-powerful God need to be able to defend our beliefs to our children. Teen and YA books, normal or paranormal, give us an opportunity for important dialogue about God and other topics.


Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a proponent for every Teen or YA title, normal or paranormal. Some titles have content that makes them poor or questionable reading material for the targeted age groups. I’m not your conscience, and as a parent, you have to make your own choices. So, pick and choose, by all means. There are more books than any of us can read. Why spend time on less than the best?

 

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About the Author

Kathrese McKee started life as a Systems Engineer at EDS, spent time in real estate, taught middle grade Reading and ESL in Texas, and settled down to blog and write speculative fiction for Young Adults.

As a teacher, she fell in love with books written for Teens and Young Adults. Her favorite books are “coming of age” stories about young people on the difficult road of self-discovery.

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