Traditionally, young adult lit involves themes like forging your own identity and building self-acceptance. Recently, however, we've seen a noticeable increase in themes of forsaking your family to become undead, changing your personality to the point of unrecognizability, and feasting on human blood to nourish a fetus that your husband will eventually have to chomp out of your womb. (No, we aren't making this up). For those of us who miss the good ol' days when reading teen lit made you feel better about life (as opposed to in need of a long shower), it might be a good investment to pick up some of the following classic reads.
Despite the countless ways in which Ray Bradbury can put us ill at ease, his 1962 coming-of-age novel Something Wicked This Way Comes actually has a wholesome message at its core. Beneath all the carnies and funhouses, that is. The story follows two thirteen-year-olds named Will and Jim, whose visit to the traveling circus gets them involved with a wicked witch, a magic carousel, and a guy who has tattooed both their faces on his hands. (Clearly, this predates the cameraphone.)
For whatever reason, Jim is drawn to all things dangerous, creepy, or both, and desperately wants to ride the carousel that can instantly turn him into an adult à la Tom Hanks in Big. Will, on the other hand, enjoys being thirteen and has absolutely no desire to pursue adulthood through unnatural means. (Clearly, this predates VH1.) With the help of Will's father, the two learn how to kill evil with a smile - literally - and laugh in the face of insecurity, even when that face is your own. Only Ray Bradbury can pull off something like that while still managing to scare the crap out of you.