Representations of Adolescence through Fiction
According to Kate Legge, an Australian journalist, young adult novels are too dark and pessimistic, as she states in the following quote: Father bashes mother, mother abandons children… Violence, drugs, suicides. The novels of some top writes of young people’s fiction have never been bleaker or more explicit… (Kate Legge; The Australian Magazine; 1998) ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’ by John Marsden and ‘Ugly’ by Constance Briscoe both involve issues which could be considered bleak and disturbing. They tell stories of violence, one in a war situation while the other in the form of child abuse. However, young adults are represented in an optimistic light in both novels, becoming responsible and able to persist and show resilience through the circumstances they are faced with, making them able to overcome these challenges. These books promote the awareness and understanding of issues, and show that hope is what the characters cling to in their time of need. The main characters in both books are adolescents who develop and become stronger in their difficult situations. Constance (Clare), in ‘Ugly’, writes an autobiography of her life of beatings and neglect by her mother. Ellie, the main character in ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’, writes a diary about guerilla warfare in an invasion where her parents are prisoners of war. Therefore, both are put in a position of responsibility whereby they must look after themselves without parents being there for protection. They are represented in a positive light which contrasts with their negative surroundings. ‘Ugly’ presents violence which is directed at Clare in the home environment. Clare suffers physical abuse (even leading to hospitalization) and sexual harassment which are consequential of adults in the book, in particular her mother Carmen. Her treatment of my sisters was certainly very different from her treatment of me. They did not get the unkind words I got, or have...
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