lit­er­ary tour de force

Two YA nov­el­ists head to Cebu

Cebu Living - - FRONT PAGE - By AJ ELICAÑO

Writ­ten pri­mar­ily for and about ado­les­cents, Young Adult lit­er­a­ture en­gages iden­tity, fam­ily, re­la­tion­ships, and the tri­als and tri­umphs of grow­ing up.

And yet the pop­u­lar­ity of YA also in­creases the num­ber of au­thors will­ing to chal­lenge its con­ven­tions. Two such writ­ers, Lissa Price and Jen­nifer E. Smith, will be vis­it­ing the SM City Cebu Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter for a sign­ing event on Sept. 19 as part of a Philip­pine tour led by Na­tional Book Store.

Price has two books: her de­but novel Starters and its se­quel En­ders, about a dystopian world where young peo­ple—Starters—have chips in their brains through which the older En­ders can con­trol them. The books follow a Starter named Cal­lie as she deals with a Body Bank where Starters will­ingly rent out their bod­ies, ro­mancesby-proxy that leave Starters with no mem­ory of what they’ve done un­der En­der con­trol, and a mys­te­ri­ous Old Man with a spe­cific in­ter­est in in­vad­ing Cal­lie’s life. The clas­sic dystopian “Big Brother” fear is brought to a very per­sonal level in Cal­lie’s tele­pathic in­ter­ac­tions with the Old Man. Price mar­ries the strengths of YA and sci­ence fic­tion, ex­plor­ing the strug­gle for iden­tity and safety in a so­ci­ety that’s con­stantly try­ing to own ev­ery­one in it.

Set­ting also plays a large role in Smith’s work, par­tic­u­larly her lat­est book The

Ge­og­ra­phy of You and Me. It fol­lows Lucy and Owen, who meet while stuck in an el­e­va­tor dur­ing a city­wide New York black­out. They spend the night to­gether, but are sep­a­rated when the lights come back on; Lucy moves to Scot­land with her fam­ily while Owen trav­els west with his fa­ther. The rest of the book sees Lucy and Owen strug­gle to keep in touch from the dif­fer­ent places to which their sep­a­rate paths take them.

Smith writes YA with the character of travel writ­ing, plot­ting the course of a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship through map­ping out the places that de­fine it. And while she con­cludes that home can be a per­son and that dis­tance is more than miles, the jour­ney to th­ese fa­mil­iar in­sights is re­fresh­ing and earnestly ren­dered; you can love in spite of the world, yes, but also be­cause of the world, some­times.

What makes Price and Smith re­mark­able is their abil­ity to em­ploy and in­te­grate the con­ven­tions of other lit­er­ary modes in a way that nev­er­the­less re­mains faith­ful to the heart of young adult lit­er­a­ture: find­ing one­self and mak­ing one’s way in a strange, won­drous world.

DYSTOPIAN YA AU­THOR

LISSA PRICE AND RO­MAN­TIC YA NOV­EL­IST

JEN­NIFER SMITH MEET FACES FOR A BOOK SIGN­ING THIS SEPT. 19 AT SM CITY CEBU AC­TIV­ITY CEN­TER.

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