Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It Didn't All Start with Ponyboy

While conventional wisdom has it that the young adult novel was born in the late sixties with books such as The Outsiders and The Pigman, let's have a reflective pause for Mary Stolz, who died last month at the age of 86. Although most remembered now for the middle-grade novels A Dog on Barkham Street and The Bully of Barkham Street, from the 1950s on Stolz was writing novels such as Pray Love, Remember, and Who Wants Music on Monday? for and about smart teens with complicated lives. Brava.

12 comments:

GraceAnne said...

When I was a page at the Wakefield branch of NYPL in high school, I read every single Mary Stolz (and every Betty Cavanna, and other authors I can no longer remember). I loved them, every one. Let's hear it for The Organdy Cupcakes!

Anonymous said...

I remember my shock, and then fascination, at 12 when I read Mary Stolz's IN A MIRROR, with its complex story of two college roommates, one fat (the narrator), the other thin and beautiful, and what happened when the beautiful one fell in (unrequited) love with one of their professors and spun into self-destruction.

And the stark realism of the denouement: The narrator has lost weight and is out for coffee with her roommate's old boyfriend, who she has always loved (again, unrequited) -- and she is simply on-her-knees grateful that she no longer receives a "why's he with YOU?" glance from the waitress when she's out in public. And so it ends. That's all she going to get.

Stark and real and bitter.

-Nancy W.

Anonymous said...

Just checked. She wrote IN A MIRROR in 1953.

Anonymous said...

Even dim witted teens have complicated lives, Roger. Are you all right? I suddenly got worried about you.

Roger Sutton said...

Of course they do--but that's not what Stolz wrote about. For a searing novel about a dim-witted teen with a complicated life read Rosemary Wells' None of the Above.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right, of course. Stupid. But, I'm still worried about you.,

Anonymous said...

And not in a critical way. I know how touchy you are.

shahairyzad said...

Let us not forget A SEPARATE PEACE, published in 1959. Later than Stolz, but still almost 10 years before THE OUTSIDERS.

Anonymous said...

A Separate Peace is an adult novel with adolescents in it, though, much more than a young-adult novel.

shahairyzad said...

A SEPARATE PEACE features adolescent characters dealing with many of the same adolescent questions as current YA novels (friendship, jealousy, guilt, responsibility, etc.), and it is taught mostly in junior high and high school these days. Even if Knowles intended it for an adult audience, I don't think it has been treated as an adult novel in decades. But that brings us back to the endless question of what constitutes a YA novel, doesn't it?

rindambyers said...

Rosemary Wells...again, a HUGE talent...that lady... and I hope Mary Stolz' books stay in print, too. Something's not working right in my new library that I'm not seeing many of these older books on the shelves...I MISS the good taste of Seattle Public Library so, SO much!

KathryneBAlfred said...

A lot of Mary Stolz' books are already out of print, to my heartbreak. I've been looking for "What Time of Night is It" and its companions for years. I had them checked out of the library an irresponsible amount of time as a kid.