Sunday, February 9, 2014

When I Fell In Love with a Woman Named Norma (Jenny O'Connell)

When I learned that this month's topic was the first character/author/book we fell in love with, there was no question who I'd write about.

Norma Klein is, hands down, the author who has influenced me the most. Not just as a writer, but as a young girl and grown woman. Her stories captivated me. Not because there were vampires or shape shifters or dystopian societies. No, Norma just wrote about normal girls doing normal things - going to school, falling for a guy, making mistakes and learning from them (hopefully). I still have all of her books on my bookshelf and I break them out and read them when I need a little inspiration.

I fell in love with her books, every single one of them. Could not read them fast enough and hated finishing them. Her characters felt like friends, flaws and all. Her writing was real. It was smart. There was no fluff, nothing extraneous. She didn't pander to teens. Just believable characters and story and a great NYC backdrop most of the time.

There is not a single Norma Klein book I don't own, thanks to Amazon and the ability to order out of print titles. Unfortunately Ms. Klein passed away in 1989 at the age of 50. I wish I could tell her how much I adored her books, how she influenced me growing up. I wish she had the opportunity to write more books. She wrote more than 30!!!! novels for teens and adults, so thankfully there is a lot of her work to read and read again.

She wrote about topics and issues lots of authors stayed away from, especially when writing for teens - nine of her novels were actually removed from libraries all together.

In a 1986 interview with The New York Times, Ms. Klein said: ''I'm not a rebel, trying to stir things up just to be provocative. I'm doing it because I feel like writing about real life.''

2 comments:

  1. She's who I'm going to write about too! She and Norma Fox Mazer are the reasons I wanted to be a YA author. They didn't always do happy endings, but they did real.

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