Do you ever look back in your life and say, “Geez, if only I’d known?”
I tend to do that with a lot of things, then promptly remind myself that there is neither a time machine to take me back or any real reason to feel regretful, because my life, as of right now, is pretty rockin’, and might not be if I hadn’t dealt with some slightly more icky things before getting to the rockin’. As the hubs puts it, “If we didn’t know the bad, how would we know the good?”
But there is someone I wish I had known about back in the day (also known as high school). John Green. He’s the author of award winning novels such as Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, and I might be madly in love with him (in a completely literary way).
You see, what you might not know about me, because what I mostly write about in this blog and my previous one is mom and house-y stuff, is that I was once both a teenager and a creative writing major. John Green appeals to these past selves a great deal (and are what lead to my eventual change in major to Secondary Education/English, where I could both write creatively and hang out with teenagers…in a non-creepy manner–okay, “hang out” was a poor choice of words, but you get what I mean).
So, I’ll admit that I’ve only read two of John Green’s books (An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grason, which he co-wrote with David Levithan), but I’ve also watched, like, bazillions of the Vlog Brother videos he does with his brother, Hank Green (who is equally adorable and witty and talented and…yeah…I hope my husband doesn’t take this post the wrong way). These videos have simultaneously made me want to do a vlog (despite the fact that I hate my voice and how I look when I talk and that I have absolutely no patience for video editing, nevermind the software necessary), restored my faith in humanity, and allowed me to fully embrace my adult nerdiness (because it sometimes it’s hard to do once you’re over the age of, like, 21). Anyhow, the books that I’ve read by John Green have given the same warm and fuzzies that the videos have (without leaving that pukey after-taste that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition do), because they provide a postive message without being preachy (yay!) or leaving you a complete blubbering mess (and that’s pretty easy to do to me).
In other words, his books make me feel good.
And, in keeping with the start of this post, I wish I had discovered John Green, like, eight or nine years ago (even though his first book wasn’t published until 2005, though I probably could have used him that year, because it sucked), because, from what I’ve read so far, I’m pretty sure he’s writing about me. Or, at least he’s writing about boys who are loosely based on girls like me. His characters are the kids I would have hung out with as a teenager (or did hang out with, because, believe it or not, I had friends back then). Smart, quick-witted, lots of potential, but not always sure what we’re going to do with all that potential. And while some of the scenarios the characters find themselves in are a bit unimaginable (there seem to be a lot of unauthorized road trips that I know I would not have been allowed to go on at that age), the stories don’t seem false. They ring of truth even if it is unlikely a high school would be able to fund a broadway quality musical about a gay student’s life.
And because the books aren’t hokey and they provide a positive message that an adolescent (or even a former one) can appreciate, I wish I had access to John Green and his books when I was in high school, because, even though I was socially accepted and, over all, a pretty happy kid, I think every teenager feels, to some extent, that they’re alone in some way. I think John Green could have given me some much needed perspective, mainly, that I was far from alone in how I felt and that I could do something positive in the world, even as a virtually powerless, underaged peon.
I guess that’s what I love about John Green the most. He reminds me of why I wanted to go into secondary education, why, in the long run, I want to work with teenagers. They’re so incredibly interesting and excited about things, even when they can act so frustratingly jaded and know-it-all-ish. It’s that confidence in themsevles that makes teens and young adults (and, yay, I still get to be one of those) so great at making a change in the world. While his books are written for teens, I also think he’s directing much of what he has to say at those who directly affect teenage lives, the adults who raise them or teach them, reminding us of what is boiling underneath that thin veil of I-don’t-care or I’m-too-cool.
Also, on a final note, he did say this (see below), and I think it’s something all girls need to hear, like, constantly and it’s something I with I had got when I was in middle school/high school. I would have saved me so much misery.