The Hunger Games & the Reality of War

It has been a delight to stumble into another strong female character in Katniss, the heroine at the heart of the trilogy that begins with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I grew up in the female heroine desert of the 60’s. It’s why Ripley played by Sigourney Weaver was such a revelation in 1979. She was smart & and she beat the Alien.Deployed Military Parent, Book on war for adolescents,Suzanne Collins

I really admire the author as described in the NYT magazine interview (4/10/11). Her actions match her values. She writes about the dangers of celebrity, the camera and the media. Even as her book is about to become a film, she is still very careful to limit her exposure in the public eye.

The Hunger Games is important because she has the courage to describe the horrors of war for adolescents. There is a very weird cultural attitude that avoiding harsh realities benefits kids in some mysterious way. Hovering parents interfere and believe a cocoon of protection is a necessity.

The adolescents I work with make a lot of wise observations about their parents who are getting divorced. They absorb far more than parents are often willing to recognize. They have opinions that make sense. Its really a shame they often don’t feel able to speak their own truths more often to adults.

One of the emotions adolescents experience the most is confusion. Katniss is confused about love, confused about what is the next right thing and confused about what adults require of her. It’s a very accurate picture of war and the trauma that survivors experience.

A critic in The New Yorker described this book as an “allegory of the adolescent social experience.” Again you have to love an author who responds to this as untrue. She says she doesn’t write about adolescence, she writes about war for adolescents. She’s so good that she has gained an adult audience.

Katniss struggles with choice in love and her confusion is genuine because she loves two guys. In working with relationships as much as I do, I applaud her choice in the end. Relationships really are all about respect for the differences.

Adolescents will experience some of the harsh realities of war through Katniss who is both full of fear and courageous. Any military family with a deployed parent should embrace this book to address the complicatedness of war. This novel has a ring of truth that makes it unforgettable.

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