Realism and Upbeat Endings: on reading K.L. Going

I’m not a big fan of paranormal tales. I prefer stories, in general but especially in YA, that portray a world that seems, well, real.

And, I admit it, I prefer a story that defies everyday reality and offers up that truly newsworthy moment when the good guy comes out on top.

Inconsistent? Fine. I am content with the weirdness that makes me, me.

I ran across K.L. Going’s name in a blog post singing her praises, and stopped by the library to see what I could find. I ended up reading both Saint Iggy, for which she won lotsa kudos, and King of the Screw-Ups. I loved both of the protagonists in these two stories. If anyone is looking for great examples of what agents mean when they say they are interested in ‘a fresh voice,’ go directly to Going. Unusual leading men, without a doubt, and absolutely distinct in the piles and piles of paper that might come across an editor’s desk.

But I couldn’t bear the too-real ending of Saint Iggy. I can find that in an urban newspaper, should I happen to find one left behind at a campground or fallen out of the recycling bin behind the fairgrounds. I guess that’s why I prefer to live in a place like western Wyoming, with the space for upbeat possibilities still surrounding me, cushioning me from the trillions of wrong moves our species has been making for the past coupla thousand years or so.

Let me praise then, the right moves that the King of the Screw-Ups starts to make after he is thrown into a trailer park in Nowheresville to learn his way in the world. I needed stories to point out intriguing paths when I was searching for the one(s) to take me toward adulthood. I continue to need examples of success to offer me ways forward, even after my 18th birthday has faded into dust.


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About sidney woods

After a couple of practice novels, I'm now engrossed in an effort to create my first YA story, set in the tumultuous year of 1980. The best of YA stories fit my passion for reading that's worth something, so I think about those stories 'out loud' here.

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