Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Boarding School Books (Hurray)

I'm taking a personal essay class (I missed homework, seriously), and I wrote up this week's assignment tonight. One of my themes is boarding school, since I spent a couple of years in a boarding school (an odd one, at that) and have always loved reading about them—hence, you know, willingly going myself.

Boarding school books have changed a ton, though. Now there are books like Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins) or Breathless (Jessica Warman), both of which I enjoyed—albeit for very different reasons—but more than that I keep finding info on fiction about paranormal boarding schools: vampires! Witches! And...that's all good and well...and actually, I have Once a Witch (Carolyn MacCullough) checked out from the library right now...but gosh. Where are all the 'normal' experiences?

When I was a kid I devoured the Chalet School books, and the Mallory Towers books, and... That doesn't actually age me as much as it could, since they were my mother's books originally, but I loved the books, loved them, and it never occurred to me that they should be getting into more 'exciting' scrapes or having boy drama or whatever. It's not so much the innocence of the books that appeals to me now as it is the...normality, I suppose. Oh, they get into far more scrapes than the vast majority of real-life students, I'm sure. But they're normal scrapes. Accidentally dyeing one's hair green, or sneaking into a different dorm after lights-out, or...even in Kit Pearson's The Daring Game, the big-deal drama is all about sneaking off campus.

Those run the gamut in age-appropriateness, of course; I probably wouldn't read The Daring Game now (or, if I did, it would be for nostalgia only). But I'm ever on the lookout for YA boarding school books that don't revolve around vampires or boy drama or...actually, that about covers it.

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