In Search Of . . .
January 3, 2019
The NY Times published an informative op-ed on December 31, 2018, In Search of Lost Screen Time, written by Paul Greenberg. This is an impressive overview of not only what we lose, but what we could gain. A language. Love. Health. Exercise. Reducing plastic. Meeting government officials. And nurturing others. I would welcome your thoughts on this article and if it is inspiring you to shift your time away from the enticement of checking email, playing one more game, or comparing the numbers of likes on your insta post. Happens. In a few months I will report back if I have been successful in stepping away from screens significantly. That’s the plan.
Reading. Good ol’ fashioned books can be an option away from screen. Call me old fashioned, I don’t mind. I still prefer a book book rather than a tablet to do my reading. Though I appreciate iBooks when traveling and also the benefit to people in environments who lack other ways to access literature. I acquiesce, we need both.
What If It’s Us (HarperCollins, 2018) is my first book of the year. A young adult (YA) novel, Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera cowrote this story with many redeeming factors including how teens use screen time. Amazing that. Apparently these two authors became mutual fans and put their pens or keyboards together to write a compelling and unique story, well worth your time.
Trust this is not a giveaway of the most important moments. And you find out these elements quickly.
The book alternates narrators: Arthur narrates one chapter, Ben the next. Both high school juniors in New York City. Ben lives there, Arthur has a summer internship and in August will return to Georgia. They have what rom-com plots call a “meet cute,” a first-time encounter for what may be a future relationship. This propels all . . . which I can’t disclose.
What I can say is this. Both teens have the support of their parents and friends. Many novels revolve around the coming story. Here that’s done before page one, and we can move on with the dynamic of will the guys get together and what happens and the exes and best friends and summer ends and and and. The parents in many novels are also nightmares. Here they are far from perfect, yet you know they love their sons and want what is best for them. Thank you.
And if you need a primer on how teens use screens for staying connected, staying disconnected, attaining notoriety, finding each other, solving mysteries, or listening to songs from Hamilton, then this is your book. It’s effortless and natural and honestly, I never once thought they were overdoing their screen time! All was functional, and they ultimately were all about being with people in real time.
Themes of searching — for first and second love, friendship, family, trust, honesty, second chances, do-overs, panic attacks (not searching for this), sex, and musical theatre – find them all here in this pleasurable and significant novel. And yes, YA novels are for adults too – please!
Please send comments, questions, and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grateful for these opportunities to connect and grow.
Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., is an educator/author who loves to dance, travel, take walks, read, write, and collaborate with others all over the world
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