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In defense of Stephenie Meyer's realism

As a 16-year-old girl who picks up a book on occasion, I have no problem admitting that most young adult fiction is trash. I have read many books, fraught with the overuse of terms like "hottie" or "ubercoolio" that appear to be written by adults who don't seem to understand nor remember adolescence. However, if there is one young adult book that is not trash - and I think you will find many young readers who agree - it was written by Stephenie Meyer.

When I read Eliza Ridgeway's disparaging review of "Eclipse" in the Aug. 22 edition of the Town Crier, I was horrified and confused. Not only did she belittle the work of a writer whom I respect and admire, she insulted the entire teenage population of the world. Contrary to Ridgeway's implication, Meyer is not in fact the Britney Spears of literature. Her writing is brilliant and thoughtful; few adults can write about adolescence so honestly and insightfully.

It's ridiculous to suggest that "Meyer doesn't write about real life or constructive relationship building," when that's the very foundation of her books' appeal.

Although, as a swoony, ditzy, naïve, inexperienced, teenager pining for Edward Cullen, and easily won over by "not-too-subtle twists of plot" and "an over-the-top fantasy," I probably wouldn't know.

I was further confused by the list of recommendations box at the end of the article. It's not the make-believe vampires or the element of fantasy in "Eclipse" that makes it so compelling. Surely a librarian or at least a book critic could figure that one out.

Lara Eder

Los Altos Hills

Reviewer Eliza Ridgeway replies,

Although I am a fan of many young adult novels (including those replete with teen-speak such as "hottie"), I particularly like how Meyer harnesses fantasy and the unreal to explore very human themes. I described "Eclipse" as addictive, resonant, authentic, sympathetic and delicious, and I credit her deft use of the fantastic for much of what's great about the book. Nothing pierces the veil of the mundane better than an eerily perfect vampire suitor like Edward. I think we understand reality better when we take a step away from it (towards a werewolf?) and look back over our shoulder.

Readers interested in a debate about the value of fantasy might enjoy Susanna Clarke's novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell"(Tor Books, 2006). Clarke's clever send-up of magical realism, and of scrupulously adult "literary" writing, is not as fun as Meyer's emotional roller coaster, but provides a deliciously new take on the fantasy genre. For pleasure-seekers, I would recommend Newberry Award-winning young-adult author Robin McKinley, whose now-classic books such as "The Blue Sword"(Ace, reprinted in 1987) and "Beauty" (Eos, reprinted in 2005) bring fairy-tale love affairs alive with a tingling sense of urgency and yes - reality.

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