It’s the Fourth of July. Which means if you’re in the US you’re probably gorging down hotdogs and hamburgers (tofu hotdogs and burgers if you’re vegan) and setting off fireworks while you watch one of the following movies to celebrate Independence Day.
However, if you don’t love disaster movies, find The Patriot revolting because Mel Gibson is in it, or for that matter have nightmares of Rankin Bass stop motion, here are my suggestions for five great YA reads that are somewhat Americana.
5. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: I love Cynthia Hand’s writing. I think one of the best things about this book is the setting (which is in Wyoming of all places). I know this is a weird reason to put a book on a list like this, but the setting alone makes this book Americana worthy. A lot of YA books are set in either New York or LA. And while those are great cities, there are forty-eight states that aren’t usually accounted for. Having a book set in Wyoming of all places, really made me smile. Unlike a lot of other states, Wyoming is largely undeveloped and still has a lot of its natural beauty intact that almost takes you back in time. And what was even better about the setting in Unearthly was that it was realistic. I could imagine living there experiencing what Clara experienced, save for the whole angel business.
The lyrics to “America the Beautiful” now make sense. Where I live there are no purple mountain majesties rather just dirty bayous filled with toxic waste and lots of dead palm trees.
4. Harry Potter by JK Rowling: And yes, I know that the books take place in the UK and that none of the books feature American characters, despite what many fan fiction authors think. However, I still had to include these books on the list. I think Harry Potter really has affected US society. Hello, university quidditch teams. But if you really want to get down to it, Harry Potter has affected a good chunk of the world. Globalization is becoming an increasingly important part in not only American society, but any society. And because of this I think it justifies having Harry Potter on the list. Plus, you can easily substitute a Harry Potter reading marathon for movie marathon. And God knows, the Harry Potter movies are more tolerable than Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.
I should feature the newer cover, but this is the cover I grew up with or should I say my sister grew up with since I “took” it from her room.
3. Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson
by Judy Blume: Judy Blume is one of the first authors most people think of when you think of YA or even children’s lit. I know that her books were some of the first I read (i.e. Freckle Juice
). I even watched that television adaption Fudge
when I was like six or something. Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson
was actually the first YA book I read from her. After reading her children’s books for years, I was glad to see that her novels grew up as well. There are a vast amount of books by Judy that would really fit “Americana”. Why I chose this particular book was because of a scene in the book that takes place at Ellis Island which I thought was particular poignant. Plus, Judy’s books are a bit controversial
too. And America would not be America without controversy.
Immigration the backbone and foundation for the great melting pot that is America.
Is it just me or did anyone else think Snow White retelling when they first saw this infamous cover?
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: You probably think that I’m out of my mind. I am saying that Twilight is Americana when…well, it’s Twilight. In fact, you could arguably make a case that Twilight makes Americans look bad since there are probably some people in the world who connote Americans with Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. That’s a scary thought having people think I’m like Bella Swan just because I am an American. I don’t want to be like Bella Swan. She’s whiney, has no ambition, and she has really bad taste in guys-you know, she’s really not that much different from Amber Portwood from Teen Mom save for the fact that Bella never went to jail and despite being a leech, Gary is not a vampire (sorry, for the digression). However, I think part of embracing you country is celebrating the good with the bad. Like it or not, Twilight has become a part of American society in recent years. So yes, regrettably it makes the list. Besides, there is one thing that is definitely truly American about these four books: capitalism.
1. All American Girl by Meg Cabot: Can’t go wrong with this classic Cabot book. Samantha Madison is a true hero. She rescues the president of the United States from a crazed Christie Brinkley fan-what’s more heroic than that? And did I mention that there’s a cute romance between here and the president’s son. This book really does make me proud that I’m an American. Is it idealistic. Sure, sometimes. But I think Americans usually are idealistic people. Sure, this book is ridiculously unrealistic, but that’s what’s so fun about it. Plus, despite all the ludicrous things that go on in the book, Sam is really someone you can relate to American or not.
Suggestions, comments feel free to share. And if you disagree with me you can always watch Independence Day or if you’re really desperate Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.
*A trailer for Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July was unavailable on Youtube. However, I think this video gives enough insight into the special’s epic foulness.