Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Books: Carolyn Turgeon talks Fairy Tales and Adolescence


Over at the wonderful SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog, author Carolyn Turgeon wrote a guest post about her new book The Next Full Moon, and her relationship with Swan Maiden stories. She first discusses Swan Maidens ( an avian version of selkies) who are swans who shed their skins and become women. A man steals the feather coat, and she becomes his wife, but when she finds the coat again, she returns to swan-hood and flies away. She makes some lovely connections between fairy tale journeys and the transformation and turmoil of adolescence: 
In my book, The Next Full Moon, I imagine the story of the child left behind. In this case it’s just one child, a girl, Ava, who’s about to turn thirteen and has been raised alone by her father in the middle of Pennsylvania. She keeps an eerily beautiful black-and-white photograph of her mother, whom she believes died when she was two, by her bed. Her father is a professor and a fly fisherman; he loves to go fishing for trout on nights of the full moon. All is going fine in Ava’s life—especially now that it’s almost summer and the cutest boy in school seems to be noticing her—and then one day she starts growing feathers. Which is very, very embarrassing. She’s forced her to wear a hoodie to school even though it’s June. Life is embarrassing and awkward enough for a twelve-year-old girl, isn’t it? Ava is convinced she is a freak of nature.
I really like the idea of combining the awkwardness of adolescence with the discovery of magic and beauty in the world generally, and in yourself specifically. What would it be like to discover that your mother was—and maybe still is—a swan maiden? What would it be like to discover that all the weird, embarrassing things that happen to a girl’s body at that age are rooted in a mysterious, unfathomable magic and power? That kind of is what becoming a woman is like, isn’t it, even if an awful lot of young girls don’t realize it? I certainly didn’t at that age. When I was twelve, I was already 5’8” and built, I looked years older than I was, and I existed in a constant state of embarrassment, confused and horrified by my unwieldy, ever-changing body. (Full post).
I am now rather excited to read this book! It re-affirms my belief that fairy tales are a great way for teenagers to explore themselves and their place in the world.

1 comment:

  1. This lovely and accessible middle grade novel, written for girls, is also beautiful and layered enough to delight their mothers. When Ava, a motherless girl, nears thirteen, she begins to grow feathers. Ashamed at first, she tries to hide them, until she realizes the magical world they open up.