Generation to Generation: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

Winter 1999

According to a recent American Association of Retired People poll, the number one concern of adults over 50 is intergenerational communication. As well, parents of teenaged children often feel frustrated or are hampered by the demands of their lives when trying to talk to their children. Equally often, teenagers feel that they can’t talk to their parents. However, an intergenerational dialogue is going on all the time in the unique literary genre of young adult fiction. Authors like Robert Cormier and Han Nolan write compelling novels about complex contemporary situations for an audience of young adults dealing with those same problems in their daily lives. “Generation to Generation,” a “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion series, explores the growing field of contemporary young adult fiction.

Oklahoma City University invites participants of all ages from upper middle school to adults to join in the program in a five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the readings. Small group discussion will follow. At the end, everyone comes together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections by calling Harbour Winn at 521-5472. A brochure describing the series theme is also available.

The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the OCU campus from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning January 19 and continuing on January 26 and then alternate Tuesdays through March 9. The discussion series is part of the statewide “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” project of the Oklahoma Library Association. Services, books, and other materials for these programs are provided by “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” which is funded, in part, by the Oklahoma Humanities Council, Inc., the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a state appropriation administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

READINGS AND DATES

January 19, 1999 After the First Death by Robert Cormier

One of the pioneers in this field, Cormier launches the series with a psychological thriller. The image and the intrigue of a hijacked school bus on a bridge provides the context for an exploration of a complex pair of father-son relationships as well as the paradoxical nature of fanaticism, whether it occurs in the form of terrorism or patriotism.

January 26, 1999 The Goats by Brock Cole

In his much praised novel, Cole memorably creates the insecurities and possibilities for deep friendship among teenagers by focusing on two social outcasts who begin a journey of individual and interpersonal discovery after being victimized by a cruel peer prank.

February 9, 1999 Letters from the Inside by John Marsden

The pairing of two short but brilliant novels that render the effects of domestic violence on families will cast a spellbinding trance on anyone who starts them. Coman’s Newbery Honor Book and Marsden’s unforgettable Australian novel will suggest the foundation upon which healing and restoration for meaning must begin for those who grow up in homes torn apart by turmoil.