If The Catcher in the Rye is an adult novel, then why are so many teens obsessed with it? The distinction between YA and adult fiction can be as thin as to be unnoticeable to the casual observer. And such a petty thing as genre distinction will never hold back a teen who loves reading. More than that, YA author Robin Wasserman, in an excellent essay about Stephen King’s ability to write great teen characters, posits “There are some adult books that, for whatever reason, seem specially formulated to wend their way into teenagers’ brains and take root, and I think it’s because—like one of those high-frequency tones the rest of us are too old to notice—these books are whispering secret truths certain teenagers need to hear.” These are some books that whispered to me as a teen. And then whispered again, and again, and again because I reread them so many times.
Here’s Robin Wasserman again: “What Stephen King reader didn’t fall in love with him a teenager?” I fell hard when I read It. But I didn’t reread It for the way it made me terrified to go to the bathroom or how I stayed up all night reading because I was afraid to turn out the light. I reread it because it’s about a group of friends who love each other, and how that love is the most powerful kind of magic. The young versions of the characters are just on the cusp of puberty. The book’s nostalgia for that age, as well as the late 1950s time period in which it is set, perfectly reflect a teenager’s nostalgia for their lost childhood, which seems to be an ocean of time away from their drastically different present. Also, you’re welcome for not using one of the terrifying clown versions of this book’s cover. I had the Tim Curry TV movie tie-in one, which had his picture on the spine, and I would hide it behind my other books so that he couldn’t see me. Eventually I just threw it away and bought another one, but I was still scared it was going to reappear on my bookshelf one night, Talky Tina–style.