In the push to pay attention to children’s nonfiction–which may be one of the few good spinoffs of the Common Core–are we losing the ability to read fiction with imagination? I’m starting to get asked, much more than I did in years past, if my characters are “real.”
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I make them all up, every last one. Fiction is not meant to be taken for history or geography.
I’m reading the ARC of a middle grade novel by my friend and neighbor Karen Rivers in which a girl falls into a well. Not a spoiler, I promise. That is only the beginning. Point is, did the writer ever fall into one? Does it matter? She is not her character. The story is an artistic representation. More on that later from Karen.
Fiction is meant to leave us with questions rather than provide us with tidy answers. I worry that we’re losing the arts of subtlety and subtext, that we want everything to be on the surface. We want only comfort for our children, when perhaps we ought to be passing along to them what little we have learned about living with the waves of discomfort and pain, joy and grief and passion, that have shaped our lives.