Books Change Lives: Guest post by Adele of Persnickety Snark

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There are many books that have made an enormous impact in my formative years. In fact there are so many that I could rattle off a list of books and characters that showed me something about the world and myself. Whether it was laughing uproariously at Anne thwacking Gilbert with a slate (Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery), admiring Lizzie and falling in love with Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen), follow Josie as she discovered the truth of her family (Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta) or experiencing Katherine’s awakened sexuality and heartbreak (Forever – Judy Blume) . Not one of them changed my life but they all contributed to it greatly. Austen feels like an old friend with a violently sharp tongue, Montgomery was a reassuring quilt to cloak myself in, Blume informed some great decisions in my teen years and Marchetta allowed me to relate to a ballsy Aussie girl.

However the title, or series, I would like to put forward Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure as a book that changed my life. I was eleven years old when I stumbled across Alanna in my primary school library and I swiftly fell in love with the world of Tortall. You see, I wasn’t ever that girl who loved pink, or dreamed of riding unicorns or even crushed on Jonathon from New Kids on the Block (the 80s Jonas Brothers). I have always been pretty practical and pragmatic so Tamora Pierce’s land of sword play, magic (not the Xanadu kind) and palace intrigue was like heaven to this bookworm with tomboy tendencies.

Alanna showed me a girl working her butt off to follow her dreams and aspirations. Alanna disguised herself at ten years of age, exchanges identities with her twin brother and rode to Tortall’s castle to learn how to be a knight. She commits to hiding her gender for eight long years in order to step into a role she was destined to have. As Alan of Trebond, she earns her friend’s respect by working her guts out and striving to be her best, despite opposition from a loathsome bully and the risk of being found out. Alanna was truly noble, she possessed firm ideal and was loyal, selfless and stubborn as all heck. She may have been a name on a page in a book, but to me Alanna was something to aspire to. Not that I ever wanted to become a knight but the way in which she conducted herself, the quality of her friendship and the divine George Cooper (from where I developed my fascination with bad boys) made me long to be her.

After reading it once I returned that book and time fogged my memory, Iforgot the name of the name and author of the book but held onto the character’s essence. For years I searched for the story of a girl training to be a knight, apparently not very well because it was thirteen years until I found it.

I was in my second year of teaching and I was perusing the Scholastic Book Club catalogue during my lunchtime. By chance I saw the new British covers for the Song of the Lioness series and from the exceedingly short blurb knew that I had finally found my beloved book, and also discovered that it was part of a series. I was actually going to find out what happened to my heroine!

I won’t blather on much more about how much I loved this series except to say that it (along with my family) helped shape my work ethic. Alanna helped inform the kind of girl I wanted to be and the kind of girl I didn’t. I could do anything the boys could, I would keep trying until it hurt and I would be strong in my convictions.
Last of all, Alanna changed my life in a way that has transformed my life this year. When I graduated university and started teaching, I stopped reading. Eighteen months isn’t an enormous period of time but those of you who are also bookworms, you know that this is ghastly. Rediscovering Alanna, becoming reacquainted with her, plunged me back into YA world and for that I would like to thank Tamora Pierce sincerely for without it I wouldn’t be persnickety or snarky or a blogger.

Thank you to Steph for inviting me to be part of her Books Change Lives celebration.

Life Changing Books ( in no particularly books and largely YA)
1. Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
2. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
3. Alanna: The First Adventure – Tamora Pierce
4. Forever – Judy Blume
5. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
6. Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta
7. So Much To Tell You – John Marsden
8. Song of the Sparrow – Lisa Ann Sandell
9. The Stand – Stephen King
10. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer (life changing and not necessarily in a good way)

Adele is the lovely blogger behind Persnickety Snark, a brilliant book blog with an Aussie slant.

This guest post is part of Book Change Lives September, on Hey! Teenager of the Year. To read all the guest posts, click here.
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