Two authors I’ve recently been gripped by – Suzanne Collins and Rosemary Sutcliffe. Decades apart in their lifetimes, I’m rejoicing in their similarities; apart from a wealth of material that results in luxurious trilogies that make perfect long holiday reading, both have an intense imaginative identification with their entire created worlds -their rules, their codes, their savageries and courtesies, trusts and betrayals, and their day to day engagement with struggles for life and death against overwhelming odds.
And deep in the middle of these worlds, it is unimportant whether you are a young adult, a gifted child reader, or simply an adult who loves two writers of passion with extraordinary descriptive powers that pull you into the middle of a scene, its smells, tastes, sights and emotions, and hold you there by the force of a sensual connection. Nothing is simplified, no easy solutions, no achievement that does not require some sacrifice.
This is writing at its finest, and I rejoice that it is laid at the feet of young adults. Writing for children and young adults is a vocation that demands humility, imaginative recollection, willingness to listen, and a pragmatism that understands how quality in this field is so often not matched by any financial reward. In her lifetime, Rosemary Sutcliffe, who spent much of her childhood and adult life as an invalid in a wheelchair, was recognised with prizes and awards and a loyal, slowly growing readership. Suzanne Collins has already attracted notice from reviewers and adults who, like me, read books because they are good, not because they are written for a group I fall into [not sure how that group would be categorised, anyway].