Tom Clancy: savior of the adolescent mind

Young adult fiction has corrupted me. When I look back on my childhood, I do not see the carefree and blissful experience that it was, but instead the extraordinary and peculiar experience that it wasn't. Let me explain.

When I was a child, I read a lot. Don't worry, I was reading Applegate and Rowling, not Tolstoy. Those authors shaped my childhood, among many others. All of these fell under the umbrella of "young adult fiction," and yes, they did corrupt me. I loved every minute of those books. Well, every minute except for those horrible few where you realized you were on the doorstep of the last page, and the welcoming universe you had come to love was about to crumble. You'd read the "About the Author," telling how the author has a wonderful husband and how they grew up in Chicago, and the shock of reality was jarring. All you could do was pray for a sequel. Luckily however, there usually was a sequel, because this is young adult fiction we're talking about.

So your warm, welcoming universe has crumbled, and you're left alone in your room, missing people and places that don't exist, unable to reconcile your recently lost fantasy world with the now present real world. There are no Animorphs and no Hogwarts. There's no Tobias, and no matter how much you want to, you do not live in Little Whinging. This is a tough realization for a young child. It can also be dangerous, as the broken blood vessels in my eyes can attest to. I just couldn't morph into a hawk. Not even a little bit. And that tore me apart inside.

It took a few months, but I healed and scar tissue piled up in both my circulatory system and my soul. I then realized that the only way to avoid this pain was to stop reading these books. I had to remove myself completely from these devil books, these tomes that sucked my heart and soul out headfirst. It was hard, but I eventually let them go. I needed some books to fill the void, and luckily, Tom Clancy was there to fill in. Thank God for Mr. Clancy.

I read a few of his books, and I formed no emotional attachment whatsoever. In fact, I detached from all of my emotions while reading Clancy. I actually felt my emotions, specifically wonder and joy, fall out on the floor in a mess of ectoplasm. It was exciting. In contrast to my young adult fiction days, I anxiously awaited the "About the Author" section, skipping pages to get there faster. I read countless pages about government officials and foreign dignitaries. I did not care what happened to any of these characters; they filled out paperwork, and talked for hours. Clancy's passages blended into big grey rectangles, as my retinas seared themselves to the backs of my eyes.

I hope I have struck a chord with my readers and that you shared my pain when Harry and Tobias and the rest of the gang faded into the mists of adulthood, and I also hope that you've gotten over it. If not, I recommend some Clancy. He'll ram the apathy down your throat.