The Painfully Oblivious Parent — May 26, 2011

The Painfully Oblivious Parent

You know the kind.  Oblivious to the point of being absurd.  Bella’s dad in the Twilight books is one.  The dad in Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed (a book which I far prefer to Twilight and a lot of other YA paranormal romance books that I’ve read lately) is another.  (Though in his defense, because I really did enjoy the book, he’s nowhere near as densely oblivious as Bella’s dad.)  But the one that takes the cake for me is Eliot’s mom in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”  (Yes, it’s a movie, but the trope is the same.)

I’m tired of seeing this.  Yes, kids do great jobs at hiding things from their parents.  (Though I was never one.  My mom’s always been one of my closest friends.)  But these parents and others like them are so dense and oblivious I groan when I read them.  I realize it’s a method of getting the parents’ noses out of the kids’ business so that the kids can be off doing their thing and conquering the world on their own.  But in my mind it sometimes borders on the inane.

A solution is the parent who knows but can’t do anything.  Percy Jackson’s mom comes to mind.  She can’t see any of the baddies her son has to face.  He has to move away from home for his and her safety.  But whenever they happen to have an interaction, she’s 100% supportive even though she might be terrified out of her mind underneath her calm facade.

I’d like to see more YA where the parents are aware of the situation but can’t do anything, as with Percy’s mom, or are aware to the point of becoming a source of conflict that can deepen the internal and/or external arc.  (I’m thinking of the mom in Sophie Jordan’s Firelight here.)

What think you?

Books and Personality — April 28, 2011

Books and Personality

The other day I was deep in conversation with someone and we got to talking about books.  What our favorites are, etc.  Before this person could even answer (they were pausing to think), I jumped in.  This person was in law school, so my immediate assumption (which I spoke aloud), was Tom Clancy.  Indeed they’d read every one of Clancy’s books.

But I’ve been thinking about it, and was this really fair of me to assume?  I mean, I really could have been way off base.

So it got me thinking.  What might people assume I read before I say anything about my reading tastes?

They probably think I read a lot (if not exclusively) of science fiction, being a Trekker and into Star Wars, wanting to see the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens, etcetera.

I’m not sure what else they’d assume about me.  But they’d be surprised to see the broader range of books I read and have read.  (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Sherman Alexie, Dickens, Austen, Bronte, and the list could go on and on.)  In fact, I’ve only ever read one Star Trek book, never even cracked the cover on a Star Wars book, and the most science fiction I’ve read beyond that is a collection of Philip K. Dick short stories in grad school.

What do people assume about your reading habits before you tell them anything about what you’re reading?  Is it fair that we make these sorts of assumptions?