Monday, September 29, 2008

Requirements for Australian Young Adult Literature

I'm noticing something about the young adult books I'm reading.

They mention Vegemite at least once-- and often multiple times.

I'm thinking this is a requirement in Australian literature.   Thou must mention Vegemite. Either that or I have completely underestimated the importance of Vegemite to Australians.  I mean I know Australians eat Vegemite, and I know it has important cultural significance.   I guess I just didn't grasp how really important it was.

I'm trying to think if we have a food like that in America--something that we'd find mentioned in almost every book.   Maybe coffee?    I mean in most American books, probably at least one character has coffee at one point.   I'm trying to think if the characters, in the novels I wrote, drank coffee?  They definitely didn't eat Vegemite.

Anyway, I finished reading Guitar Highway Rose.    I almost cried at the end; so for me that means the book was good.    I'll try to say something without giving anything away, which might mean I end up sounding incredibly vague and make no sense.  

I had feelings that maybe the book might give the wrong message to teens.  I feel it might give kids a sense of false hope--in a Parent Trap kind of way.  And I thought it also might promote a particular kind of behavior that could end up being dangerous.  

When reading the book, I thought teens might read this and get some bad ideas.    Then I thought, oh the hell with it.  The book was good.  It almost made me cry.   Who gives a shit if the message doesn't promote perfect behavior?

I liked the book and I recommend it.  

Now I'm reading Leaving Jetty Road.   I'm on page 19 (at the time of writing this) and Vegemite has already been mentioned.   Oh!  Here's something interesting.   I didn't notice this before.  The mom packs a picnic for the characters.  It includes "Squashed Vegemite" sandwiches and it also includes red Popsicles.   I didn't think Australian used the word "Popsicle".  I wonder if the language was changed for American readers.   Or maybe I'm wrong and sometimes Australians do use the word "Popsicle".

The book has also already mentioned Vegetarianism.   I'm eager to see where that goes.  I hope it's positive, and at least not too negative.