When I was growing up, Norma Fox Mazer sat right up there with Judy Blume. I don’t know who the contemporary version of these writers might be. Is there such an animal or are the shelves too overwhelming these days to have one or two writers who speak for a generation?
Do things change too fast in our world now for someone to speak for them?
Both writers managed to get us through our adolescence / pubescence in a truthful and authentic manner, making us feel like they understood us in a way other adults didn’t.
I’ve often wondered what happened to one of my favourite books when I was in elementary school: I, Trissy. I searched on GoodReads and the description merely says: “A sixth-grade girl types out all the frustrations she feels following the separation of her parents.” There is no description on Amazon and no copy in the entire Vancouver Public Library catalog. The cover is so dated even if it WERE in the library, I wonder if anyone would pick it up:
That cover looks like a lovesick girl rather than an angst-ridden pre-teen and does nothing to communicate what’s really inside. I, Trissy is about a girl who gets a typewriter (i.e. in the oldie times, kids, before we had computers!) as a “guilt” gift from her father when her parents separate. At least that’s how she sees it. The entire book is made up of her typewritten rants, ramblings, and frustrations as she deals with the impending divorce.
I, Trissy felt like a guilty pleasure when I was a kid. It was passed among my friends in class like illicit material. I’m not sure why, as I don’t think our teacher would have confiscated it.
Maybe it was because it felt like we were reading something private. Maybe divorce wasn’t such a household word. Maybe we were a bit more innocent or sheltered than our contemporary counterparts (12 year olds these days do have access to far more information – and to each other, for that matter).
I remember Trissy being brash and bold and free and full of emotion. Unapologetic and impolite. It was a book that gave permission for a young girl to have a voice. And even through my parents were still together, I got her. Heck, I wanted to BE her.
I definitely attribute some of my longing to be a writer to I, Trissy. Perhaps she just triggered something that was already there. I pulled out my Dad’s typewriter after I read that book 3 or 4 times and started pounding out my own thoughts on the page. I wish I still had those pages. I wish I still had a copy of the book.