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Spring Changes: Metamorphosis in Teen Literature

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As the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, a metamorphosis begins in the city. The sun is shining in New York and New Yorkers are smiling at the warmer temperatures. The parks are greener with flowers blooming, trees sprouting new leaves and picnic baskets popping up on blankets. The sunglasses are coming out and the hemlines are getting shorter. Change is happening all around.

When Julia Alvarez came to NYPL to take part in our TeenLIVE! program, she brought along with her the knowledge of change. In her books she writes of the metamorphosis of her country when she was a little girl. In Before We Were Free she speaks of the changing political climate in the Dominican Republic and a group of women called Las Mariposas, which means "The Butterflies" in Spanish. Just as a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, the country was having its own metamorphosis.

A great change can happen in a country, as in Before We Were Free, or even within a person. As people grow older and experience life around themselves, thoughts about identity, beliefs and culture can all change.

If you are interested in big changes, check out these great reads about teenagers who are going through a metamorphosis of their own:

Before We Were Free - Julia Alvarez

Anita is a 12-year-old girl living in the Dominican republic in the time of the dictator "El Jefe." The events that happen in the coming months change the state of her country and her own life forever.

 

Luna: A Novel - Julie Anne Peters

Reagan is your typical teenage girl who doesn't fit into any one specific place. She wants things to stay that way, but it is hard when her brother Liam transforms himself in to a girl named Luna at night. See the metamorphosis of Regan's life as her transgendered brother becomes the beautiful butterfly she always knew she was.

Hold Still - Nina LaCour

Caitlin must learn how to survive after losing her best friend Ingrid to suicide. Used to being a pair, she has to face the world after this drastic and immobilizing loss. Caitlan learns that closing herself off to all those who were once her confidants may not be the best way to heal. She must look for new friends and find out who she will become after such a dramatic hole is made in her life.

The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie 

Fourteen-year-old Junior is sick of his life on the Indian Reservation. After receiving a text book in class that is so old his mother used it when she was his age, Junior has a flash of rage and throws the book... into his teacher's face. After being transferred to a primarily white school, he must learn to balance his Indian and new White lifestyles and the differences they will bring to both of his worlds.

American Born Chinese - Gene Yang

This Michael L. Printz winning graphic novel follows a Taiwanese high school student named Jin Wang. Sick of being different from the rest of his classmates, he literaly morphs in to a new blonder person.

 

Beastly - Alex Flinn

Being consumed by good looks and wealth may seem like a blessing, but may lead to your downfall. This twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale focuses on the privileged high school student Kyle Kingsbury (played by Alex Pettyfer in the movie) who is beautiful on the outside but not on the inside. After being cursed by a witch, he is scarred and can only be cured if he can find someone who will look past his ugly apperance. Will he find love? Can he transform his personality to a thing of beauty to break the curse?

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