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Tracy Frank, Published October 05 2011

Frank: YA fantasy genre shame has faded

I have a confession to make.

I’m a 34-year-old mother of two and I’m enthralled with young-adult fantasy novels.

It might have started with “Twilight.” (Though in all honesty, I’ve been a Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan for years, so jumping to Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling wasn’t much of a leap.) Two years ago a friend was talking up the “Twilight” books and I love to read, so I started the series. I finished it in a couple of weeks.

I was embarrassed when I had to ask the Fargo library staff for help finding the books. Not only did I have to look the man in the eye and ask for “Twilight,” but I then had to go into the young-adult section, which is behind a closed glass door, to retrieve it.

It was well worth the humiliation, however, and I have since read and listened to the books multiple times.

“Twilight” is romance mixed with mystery, action and super powers. It’s a quick, easy read with a storyline that latches on to the reader and doesn’t let go.

I recently noticed the downtown Fargo library started stocking young- adult audio books in with the (not-so-young?) adult audio books.

I shied away from the books out of my own misguided sense of appropriate reading material for a college-educated, professional journalist.

Then one day I grabbed a book in the “Need” series without (consciously) noticing its young adult label. Granted, the book’s cover clearly described it as being about a high school girl stalked by a creepy guy who turns out to be an evil pixie, so I probably should have known better. But I listened to the book anyway and found it to be entertaining and captivating. It made my car rides and time spent cleaning the house much less mundane.

After that, I decided to abandon my pretense of being too good for young-adult fantasy and have since read the “Wake” series, the “Hunger Games” series, and all seven “Harry Potter” books (which I finished in about three weeks).

I no longer try to hide the book covers as I go to the break room for lunch or go through self-checkout at the library so I don’t have to show my book to the library staff.

I have read serious novels like Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True” and “The Hour I First Believed.” In fact, Oprah’s Book Club-type books used to be my genre of choice.

While those novels are brilliantly written and engaging, I also found them to be quite depressing. I had to purposely seek out a frivolous novel following “The Kite Runner,” just to immerse myself in something light-hearted.

Young-adult fantasy books are fun, entertaining and captivating.

They tackle topics like the epic battle of good versus evil with magical possibilities woven throughout the story. I have always thought that a really good book will make me laugh out loud and move me to tears. Many of these books have done that. I write about reality every day. It’s fun to read about fantasy.

Plus, there’s usually a happy ending, and in a world filled with uncertainty, I like to close a book feeling a sense of closure.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526