HomeBooks by SubjectBooks with Girl CharactersWho Am I? The Power of Self-Invention During the Teen Years

Who Am I? The Power of Self-Invention During the Teen Years

By Lauren McLaughlin, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 17, 2009

The Children’s Book Review presents a guest post by Lauren McLaughlin, who is currently on “blog-tour”. She spent 10 years in the film industry as a writer and producer before following her dream to write fiction full time. You can learn more about Lauren by visiting her website and following her on Twitter: www.laurenmclaughlin.net, http://twitter.com/LaurenMcWoof.

The thing I remember most clearly about my own teen years (other than some cringingly awful eighties hair styles) is the way that identity was an active pursuit. Nowadays, as an adult, I don’t think about my identity. I take it for granted. When I meet someone my own age who’s still struggling with the question: “who am I?”  I tend to find them annoying and immature. But teenagers genuinely don’t know who they are yet, because they’re still in the process of inventing themselves. This is a thrilling time, a period when a young person is free to delete unappealing character traits,  eliminate tired habits, and invent a sparkling new persona. But it’s also a period fraught with hazards and heartbreaks. What if people don’t like the new me? What if I can’t pull it off? Which me should I try to be today?

In my novels, Cycler and (Re)Cycler, I explore both the creative and destructive power of self-invention. Seventeen-year-old Jill McTeague has a strange medical condition. Four days out of every month, she turns into a boy―complete with all the parts. In an attempt to fit in among her more conventionally gendered peers, Jill decides to repress her male persona, literally locking him in the bedroom during his four-day phase.  In this way, she re-invents herself as a “normal” teenage girl.

Cyclerjpg Re-cycler

But what happens to those sides of ourselves that get locked away? What becomes of the old character traits, the old habits? Do they ever truly disappear? For Jill, the answer is a resounding no. Locked away and deprived of a life, Jill’s male side grows stronger, developing his own autonomous personality, even taking on his own name―Jack.

As Jack and Jill struggle for control of the same body, it becomes clear that self-invention has its limits. Jack won’t go away. Nor will Jill. If they’re going to have any kind of a life, they’ll have to learn to accept each other somehow.

But isn’t this something we all have to learn? We may want to be like the perfect and beautiful people we admire. We may aspire to become elegant, flawless creatures. But we can never fully repress those quirks and details that make us unique. And sometimes those inconvenient quirks and details represent our best selves. That doesn’t mean we should give up on self-invention―especially as teenagers. But it does mean we should approach the task with a degree of humility and an understanding that we are not fully in control of the proceedings.  Sometimes the inconvenient Jack within will have the final say.

Add these books to your collection: Cycler and (Re)Cycler

Follow Lauren on her blog tour as she answers more questions and guest blogs at http://bookchicclub.blogspot.com/.

To ask Lauren questions or chat with other fans please visit her on RandomBuzzer.com. The direct link to the forum is: http://www.randombuzzers.com/forums/topic/102895/#post_102895

The complete tour schedule:

11/9-11/13: RandomBuzzers.com: www.RandomBuzzers.com

11/15 The Page Flipper— http://thepageflipper.blogspot.com/

11/16 Cheryl Rainfield Reviews—http://www.cherylrainfield.com/teen-books.html

11/17 The Children’s Book Review—https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/

11/18 Book Chic—http://bookchicclub.blogspot.com/

11/19 Write for A Reader—http://writeforareader.blogspot.com/

11/20 Y Pulse—http://www.ypulse.com/wordpress/wordpress/category/book-publishing

11/21-11/22- RandomBuzzers.com    http://www.randombuzzers.com/forums/topic/102895/#post_102895

11/23 Beatrice.com— http://www.beatrice.com/wordpress/

11/24 MTV.com “Hollywood Crush” blog– http://hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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