The Importance Of Mystery In Young Adult Literature

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The keyword mystery takes on diverse connotations within young adult literature and has the ability to cross multiple genres. It appeals to male and female readers, and includes all races, ethnicities and cultures. Teenage life often feels mysterious in itself and comes with immeasurable physical, emotional and psychological changes, and so adolescents seek out books that explore identity: autonomy, spirituality, personal achievement and empowerment. Mystery is explored in young adult literature on conscious and subconscious levels, while simultaneously adding relevant youth culture themes that invoke a greater sense of social and self awareness. Starting with its earliest origins, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, mystery comes…show more content…
While, early (and modern) detective stories portray realistic settings and follow similar writing formulas, according to Goldman, mystery’s value comes from the reader’s experience and has the “capacity to engage fully and simultaneously all of our mental capacities- cognitive, emotional, imaginative, and perceptual” (264). It heightens all senses collectively, allowing the reader to actively participate in the investigation as the story unfolds. Reading mystery enhances literacy and critical thinking skills, so readers easily recognize basic narrative plot and structure and allows further focus on analysis and interpretation of underlying moral and social…show more content…
According to Pavonetti, key facts are obvious and not withheld, the killer (or element of truth) appears early, there are multiple plot twists, and special attention is given to the growth of the adolescent narrator/protagonist who is forced to “make serious decisions without adult interference” (456-458). The protagonist calls most if not all of the shots, acts alone or has with help from other adolescent peers. To emphasize “mysteries are resolved by being accepted or acknowledged as an inherent and insoluble part of life” (Gavin & Routledge, 3), multiple clues and truths exposed throughout the story relate to the development of the protagonist’s personal identity, as well as revelations regarding the actual physical crime itself. All, resulting in a satisfying finale that ties up loose ends, and leaves room for the story to continue in another series or at least leaves offers hope and a positive outlook for the protagonist’s
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