I’m a big fan of fiction that dares to take the perspectives of young people seriously. My favorite childhood reads didn’t ask their protagonists to wait until they were older for their adventures to begin. Characters like Lyra Belacqua (from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series) or Jared Grace (from Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Spiderwick Chronicles books) took active roles in their stories. They made decisions and mistakes that helped them understand how their choices have an effect on the people around them. I love a story that shows a young audience that their perspectives matter and that they can and should be thinking about who they are and how they can shape the world for the better.
For these reasons, I knew I wanted to further develop the young adult (YA) fantasy novel I started writing in my YA Novel Workshop. For my M.A. project, I drafted and revised the first two chapters of my novel-in-progress, Giants Way. The chapters feature the perspectives of sixteen-year-old shapeshifter Hugo Aponte-Slater and his friend Erica Saunders as they await the city of Giants Way’s annual Clamber Festival, where giants emerge from beneath the hills of the surrounding prairie and pass peacefully through town. When the giants start to cause destruction by moving beyond their predetermined paths, Hugo and Erica find themselves at the forefront of a mystery that asks them to grapple with their own complicated identities and what they can do for their community.
Though the novel is not yet complete, I hope that Hugo and Erica might one day join the ranks of characters like Lyra and Jared, providing younger audiences with a tangible reminder that their perspectives matter and they have so much to give to the world.
— Ben Trickey (BA ’20, MA ’23)