Week 45. Young adult literature

I just read Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, about triplet girls born as queens and destined to fight each other to the death. Each sister is either a poisoner, an elemental, or a naturalist.

When I was a child, I thought there could only be one of something in a family: my dad was a scientist, my mom an artist. I was smart, my sister pretty. The brain is a computer, the heart a pump. Identity, when named, is powerful and blinding. It makes impossible what was before simply unnamed or unimagined. It hedges you in until that’s all you can see. Our words form ghosts around us, make us believe our selves are composites of gifts implanted or taken away.

The queen-sisters get caught up in developing their powers, though, of course, you can’t be a poisoner without an affinity for nature, and you can’t separate the activity of the elements from their touch on biological life. But invisibility and impossibility thrive in isolation, and isolation makes it easier to believe that destiny has called for your cruelty, that you are just fulfilling your role.

Young adult lit is dark, fun. It’s written for people with only a smattering of years on the planet, people for whom anything might be possible and little is surprising. It dreams in realms untouched by many erasures, without walls of impossibility closing in.

Medium: ink and Sharpie

With books I throw myself as I never did with love at first site.

Last week I snuck the thin paperback out of the boys room and read it in the hallway by headlamp. The story will take weeks to finish reading aloud – I had to know. My youngest sisters asks me if it is pleasure or anxiety to devour books this way.  I ask myself this, but I can’t answer.

My first brush with faith came in college botany class memorizing latin names of plants. I walked the city weaving myself into the landscape: asteraceae, aceraceae, ulmaceae.

The story is of a sick younger brother, an evil principal, a wall flower teen older sister, and a cherubim (plural of cherub). One moment they watch a star being born, the next they are inside the sick brothers mitochondria. The fate of the universe hinges on this boy. They use telepathy, learn that size and distance mean nothing.

To fight evil with love, and love is done by naming. To name each star, each tree, each sad and lonely person.  This is the war of good against evil. That everything is given a place. I realize, I was not just weaving myself into the landscape, I was weaving the landscape. The closest I come to god is through seeing, the uttering of words and pencil strokes on a page to sketch veins, leaves, stems, flowers.

Medium: water color, micron pen.

Book referenced: Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle


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