Monday, September 01, 2008

Green domes of the Fyodorovskaya Church in Yar...Image via Wikipedia I have to admit, when it comes to books I can be a complete snob. When I find people who don't read, and I mean quite literate adults who choose not to read, I have to wonder what I have in common with them, if anything.

But today I want to praise an area of literature that I believe too many adults overlook as not worth their time, YA novels. "YA" is shorthand in bookstores and libraries for "Young Adult" and covers the novels written to appeal to a teen audience. So many of them are outstanding, and adults who don't seek them out are doing themselves a disservice.

Today I read A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson, and I adored it. I laughed, I cried, I was totally enraptured by the characters and their tale. Russian emigre Anna, with her commitment to being an excellent housemaid at an English estate, was a heroine in the mold of Cluny Brown, another favorite of mine. Despite the loss of almost everything in her short life, Anna never loses her core of sweetness. But she's not a dishrag of a heroine, far from it! When she sees wrongs perpetrated against those who are even weaker, she's quick to rise to their defense and take a stand. It's also a great love story, with a WWI airman hero trying to save his family's home, who has to choose between love and duty.

A Countess Below Stairs was poignant and delightful and I highly recommend it for readers of any age. Other YA authors I enjoy are Sharon Shinn, Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip, and I encourage adult readers to look for their books as well.

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