What is life without hope? This is a theme that we have seen over and over again in the YA novels that we have looked at in our young adult literature class. I would like to look specifically at how Edge of Ready and Unchained by L. B. Tillit, Looking for Alaska by John Green and Monster by Walter Dean Myers addresses this idea of hope. Each one of these novels approaches the idea of hope differently. Edge of Ready by L. B. Tillit is the story of Dani and how she over comes having to help take care of her little brother and juggle school as well as being raped. This book in general is super heavy.
Often older siblings in single parent households have to take on a parental role with their younger siblings. This means missing school to watch a sibling when their parent has to work. Missing a lot of school means that you fall further behind. In this novel Dani is shown hope when there is an alternative night school that she can go to. “It sounds like you would be perfect for our partnership with West Side Community College” (Tillit 63). She was given this whole new chance to graduate high school. This chance allows her to take care of her sibling and go to class at night. “Hope is a strong word.
But that’s what I felt” (65). Dani is later raped by her ex-boyfriend. She struggles with the fear this event has created in her. “I kept hoping the fear would go away” (93). She began to see a professional. Mrs. Elpidia helps Dani understand that life keeps moving forward. “I would never forget the rape. But, like her, I could and would become whole again” (164). Edge of Ready is the kind of story that put into perspective that event will happen in your life that you won’t be able to forget but you will continue to live. Hope for a better tomorrow and hope that one day the things that have happened to you won’t control ou. Unchained by L. B. Tillit is the story of T. ). , and how he, like so many other inner city kids, joined a gang.
What’s different about this story is that it is also how he left the gang for a better future. T. J. has two parents that are junkies, he learned early on that he has to worry about himself. “They were so high they didn’t know I was there” (Unchained 3). He learned how to protect himself but he eventually fell into the wrong crowd. However before he get in to deep, his father dies of an overdose and is taken into child service. This is his first sign of hope.
Getting placed in a good foster home T. J. Learns that he doesn’t have to be mean or fend for himself. “I know it sound crazy, but I had never been “called to dinner” before” (41). Miss Dixie and Annabelle would be T. J. ‘s beacons of hope. T. J. becomes comfortable in his new found home. “They were moments that were different than anything I’d ever felt” (87). Two years of having a home his mother gets him back and all the hope of a better future is gone. “I felt like I was trying to figure out who | was all over again” (104). The gang he joins seems to be the only logical option. You are either with the gang or against the gang.
His mother finally realizes what bringing him back has done to him. “Whatever you choose I won’t stop you” (183). His mother gives him the chance to go back to the life that had so much hope and opportunity. This, in her own way, is a symbol of hope. Unchained shows that in life we make choices and we have to live with our actions but it is also the story that there is always hope. Even in the darkest hours, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Looking for Alaska by John Green is the story of Miles Halter and his adventure of going to a boarding school. In this novel we see Miles finally make friends and fall in love.
This novel deals with peer pressure and dealing with the death of a friend. Miles looks for his “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) at the Culver Creek Preparatory School. Where he meets The Colonel and Takumi but most importantly Alaska. These people he befriend is his fist show of hope for his “Great Perhaps”. “If the colonel though that calling me his friend would make me stand by him, well he was right” (Green 28) Miles has the experience of the “grate perhaps”. He plays pranks and smokes cigarettes and drinks for the first time. He breaks out of his shell. He becomes a different version of himself.
This couldn’t have happened without the help of his friends. Alaska dies. This completely tears Miles up. He feels completely hopeless. He feels at fault for letting her leave when she was intoxicated. “I thought: It’s all my fault” (139). It is through The Colonels and Miles putting together what happened to Alaska that night that Miles finds hope that Alaska would have forgiven him. “That she forgave us” (218). Miles learns that he can still have his “Grate Perhaps” even if Alaska isn’t there. That his would doesn’t stop because he lost his first love. He learns that he isn’t the only one who lost her.
The hope that they are forgiven is what lets him move forward with his life. Monster by Walter Dean Myers depicts the criminal case of Steve Harmon. He is charged with federal murder. He is being charged as an adult. He is accused of being a look out at a robbery turned murder. The first time that you see hope in this book is when Steve’s mother comes to visit him in jail. “No matter what anybody says, I know you’re innocent” (Myers147-148). His mother refuses to believe his is a part of this awful crime. He worries that his whole life will be spent in prison even though he didn’t kill Mr. Nesbitt.
“What did I do? I walked into a drug store to look for some mints, and then I walked out. What was wrong with that? I didn’t kill Mr. Nesbitt” (140). He feels that his lawyer thinks he is guilty “she thinks I’m guilty” (138). Steve’s film teacher, Mr. Sawicki, is used as a character witness. His testimony is a show of hope because Mr. Sawicki is sure that Steve is a good person. He does not believe that Steve would be involved in this. “I think he’s an outstanding young man. He is talented, bright, and compassionate” (235). He is mostly hopeless. He believes that he is innocent but he doesn’t think that the jury will agree.
Steve is sound not guilty. “He has been found not guilty” (276). This moment is when all hope is returned to Steve. He has hope for a better life then one spent in prison. All four of these books deal with different topics. The thing that links them is the element of hope. All of them show hope in different aspect. They all use hope to show that you can keep going. That not everything is going to be bad all of the time. To me personally this is a quality that all young adult literature should have. It should show adolescents that there is always hope no matter what.