So I mentioned that Jennifer Donnelly’s THE TEA ROSE was nearly the only YA book I brought on my vacation (it’s true! I’ve been reading adult fiction up the wazoo!), and iloveamandabynes, AKA my long lost camp roommate, said in comments that she’s been reading it and hadn’t even realized it was YA. Which made me remember that Donnelly also writes for adults, and just because the book looks like YA — the cover and, especially, the page and font size — don’t make it so. In fact, a cursory look at the quotes on the cover would’ve made it obvious that this is clearly not being sold as YA.
…As would’ve simply flipping open to the first sentence: “Polly Nichols, a Whitechapel whore, was profoundly grateful to gin.” Um, yeah. I know YA’s gone through some dark phases, but no.*
The thing, though? I’m still in the first five pages, but this is so written like YA. Check out this paragraph:
Not come to the river? she thought, admiring the silvery Thames as it shimmered in the August sunshine. Who could resist it? Lively waves slapped impatiently at the bottom of the Old Stairs, spraying her. She watched them inching toward her and fancied that the river wanted to touch her toes, swirl up over her ankles, draw her into its beckoning waters, and carry her along with it. Oh, if only she could go.
* By the way, has anyone ever seen an authorial narrator — as opposed to a character — ever refer to anyone, in any YA book, as a “whore”? I’d be stunned but now I’m curious.
** By the way ^2, I would love to hear y’all’s thoughts on whether it’s true that more adults read YA now (it certainly feels true, but given that I’m an adult YA blogger, I kind of think my anecdotal evidence may be selective…) and if lack of plot in adult literary fiction is why. Grossman’s response to critics is here.