Ok, I think we are underestimating the teenagers.

Hello!

First, let me just jump up and down and scream at the top of my lungs: THANK YOU LOUISVILLE!!! Last week I posted that the Louisville Courier Journal has listed ARTICLE 5 as #5 in fiction sales (according to the awesome Carmichael’s Bookstore). I just received word that this list has been updated. And A5 is #1. Louisville you are FREAKING AMAZING! I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU! (Here’s the link)

Best sellers (Louisville)

FICTION

1. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

4. Same Sun Here by Silas House

5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

6. New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

7. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

8. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

10. Watergate by Thomas Mallon

(Based on sales at Louisville branches of Carmichael’s Bookstore.)

Also last week I mentioned something I wanted to expand upon, so here I go.

While on the ARTICLE 5 Book Tour, I had the pleasure of meeting with some absolutely delightful teenagers, both at libraries, events, and in schools. We had some fun – even competing for best/weirdest/most awesome post-apocalyptic talent (“Scaling a tightrope over a blazing inferno” was included, complete with demonstration). We talked Hunger Games and World of Warcraft and Team Edward vs. Team Jacob and (my favorite) who would survive to season three of The Walking Dead. (Turns out I was WRONG btw! Shane! WHAT HAPPENED???)

(The awesome students of Moore High School – Louisville, KY, 3/9/12)

We talked about my book, too, of course, and specifically about the Moral Statues (which can be found here), the doctrine in ARTICLE 5 which has replaced the Bill of Rights. We discussed what they would do if they lived in a world where their freedoms had been taken away one by one, like they are for Ember and Chase in A5. Many, already feeling oppressed by the rules at home, school, and work, related this to their own personal experiences. Embracing this dystopian setting wasn’t too much of a stretch from where they were now.

I asked them to think about what rights were most important to them, and what they would stand up for, even defend if the time came. They wrote down their answers, and turned them in.

Later, I asked several adult friends what they thought these answers would be. They scoffed and snorted, and said things like, their iPod, their clothes, and their video games. Even placing myself back at that age, I wondered if I wouldn’t have said something like that. At sixteen I was at war with my parents – with any authority figure – and was trying to figure out who I was as an individual. There wasn’t much I would have defended as rabidly as my car and the right to drive it (hello? FREEDOM!!).

It turns out we were wrong. The answers from the sample I took were as follows:

Of 168 teenagers who filled out a card, 141 said the things that were most important to them in the world, that they would defend if threatened, were their family and friends. Even more exciting were their definitions of family:

  • “My mom and dad and my dog,”
  • “My grandparents raised me. If I was told I couldn’t live with them, I would fight back,”
  • “My mom and her friend,” and
  • “My teammates – they’re like my brothers,” were amongst the answer.

Nineteen more listed activities – reading, writing, art, dance, sports.

The remaining 8 (that’s  only 4% of those polled) listed their music collection, TV’s, cell phones, and um…drug paraphernalia.

I found these answers not only delightful, but totally validating. This is, after all, what Ember chooses in ARTICLE 5 – not her stuff, but her family. Maybe Ember knew the reality of the situation all along. Maybe if I was 16 again I would have written family on that card, and rolled my eyes at all the adults who would have assumed I’d do otherwise. I hope I would have.

So, are we underestimating our youth? Or are we losing touch with what it was like to be teenagers? Whatever the case, I’m grateful for the reminder that life doesn’t necessarily get harder, it just gets different.

 

 

 

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