Self in the City: Young Adult Fiction about New York City after 9/11
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Children's Literature and New York City
This chapter discusses fictional texts set in New York City soon after Septem- ber 11, 2001 (9/11), or whose characters are affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center. Whereas these texts may not have been directly marketed at young adults, they all address ‘youth issues’. Each of the books discussed here contain or are focalized through the eyes of adolescent protagonists. They are all coming-of-age narratives in that the crises within them are usually a result of a catastrophe, taking the characters on journeys of self-discovery, which, once fulfilled, lead them back home.1 As Jerry Griswold (1992) has suggested, coming-of-age stories are especially well suited to the American psyche, and are already familiar to readers of literature based in New York City (the most familiar work being J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye). As with other clas- sic American young adult (YA) literature, the journey and homecoming com- monly associated with coming-of-age are often employed in fiction about 9/11. With the key elements of loss and suffering, self-awareness, introspection, and growth, the coming-of-age novel also fulfils agendas common to both litera- ture and politics: the literary journey becomes the nation’s journey.