Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I can't read as a kid any more

I finished reading Everlost yesterday and while I liked it I had some misgivings about it as well. I don't think those misgivings are anything inherent in the book itself. I think they're more from inside me.

Everlost is a children's book. But I hate to call it that. Whenever I think of "children's books" I think of Dr. Seuss and little snot nosed kids running around a playground. Everlost if for those older kids that no longer play on the playground, but aren't old enough to get a license to drive. The protagonists are 14 or 15 years old and since they usually say your protagonists should be 1-2 years older than your target audience you can figure out who this book is for. Needless to say I'm not in their target audience. And I'm starting to feel it too.

When I was about that age I remember reading a book called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basile E. Frankweiler. I loved it. I connected with that book so much that I wanted to run away and live in a museum. The book resonated with me, but at the time all I knew was that if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one book with me I wanted this one. Everlost should have been the same thing.

I really enjoyed it and loved all the little references and jokes thrown in. Kind of like finding Easter Eggs in movies. But as much as I wanted to connect with the book like I had the Mixed-Up Files book I just couldn't. I was too old. I've seen to much of life to be wholly and completely engrossed in the book. I've seen too much of the world for the destruction of the Twin Towers to have a different impact on me than it would someone younger reading this book.

I felt like I was standing outside the entrance to a fun park and I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I was too tall. I could only stand there and look at all the rides whirling in the air and see that the gate to each ride was shorter than I was. Instead of that "you must be this tall to ride this read" sign there were "you must be this short to ride this ride". Anyone can be young at heart and enjoy a fun park but how do you become shorter? Has the world made me a cynical person that I can't even recall what it felt like to be young and a little bit naive to the workings of the world? Have I completely lost that carefreeness that you only see in the children who haven't reached that age of responsibility when childhood ends and the read of your life begins?

Everlost is a book that had I read it in my "tween" years it would have had a profound effect on me. Reading it today it doesn't have the same effect. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading it. It just means that I feel I missed out on getting that little something extra from having read it. There are a lot of times when I'm glad I'm not a kid any more. But this was one time I wished I could have been and read this book with the wide-eyed wonder and excited of someone who's world is just starting to open up for them.

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