Laura's Blog

Peggy as a YA Heroine

March 7, 2018

This weekend, I’ll be participating in the NoVa Teen Book Festival for the first time and I am so jazzed for it! There is an energy and exuberance surrounding YA literature in general, but I have to say that this event seems particularly infused with upbeat excitement and a sense of fun, thanks to its wondrous planning committee. (Meet them here: http://novateenbookfestival.com/about/about-us-2/!) 

The festival has me thinking about why Peggy Schuyler is, in so many ways, the perfect Young Adult protagonist.

First, those pesky definitions.

YA literature features teen characters, dealing with gut-wrenching conundrums of self-concept and goals, experiencing life challenges and the world order for the first time with teenage intensity and idealism, with large character growth and revelations, coming-of-age plotlines and quests, and strong, intimate narrative voice. Any topic can be tackled—war, suicide, bullies, abuse—but there must be an undercurrent of hope, even within dire circumstances or heartbreaking endings. The hope that if we try hard enough, stick to our integrity and commitment to humanity, that we can indeed push that Sisyphus boulder up the hill to betterment. Even if it’s just an inch. Teens, you see, still believe. And thank God for it! Oh, and the story better reverberate with emotional truth. Teenagers and adult BS, equivocation or justification, do not mix.

Although fewer of us tackle it, historical YA literature carries another element teens hunger for—humanizing the history they must learn in school. Showing all those dates, treaties, and political movements through the eyes of an ordinary  “everyman” character—a person with a proverbial beating heart, who experiences fears, love, longing, and moments of truth that readers can empathize with, worry about, and turn each page wondering what happens next, even if they know the overarching historical outcome (like the Allies defeating Hitler). The motivating question is does that character, that person who could be the reader, survive intact? That’s what a good piece of art can do for a time period. As one national education expert said of the runaway hit Hamilton, the American Revolution used to be “the castor oil of social studies,” and now “is the sexiest topic there is.”

More than half of YA novels are purchased by adult readers, by the way.  (Many of them, like PEGGY and most of my other novels, slide into the “cross-over” category of “ New Adult,” also speaking to the life-issues of 21 to 30-year-olds.)

Those who snobbishly think YA novels are “dumbed down,” watery or thin literature, haven’t read recent bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars, Thirteen Reasons Why, the Hunger Games and Divergent series, or Elizabeth Wein’s brilliant Code Name Verity. Earnest Hemingway’s editor at Scribner told him that if he took out the curse words and didn’t say “damn” all the time, he could be a Y.A. novelist.  Classic novels you may not realize fit the category’s parameters include Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Alcott’s Little Women.

Little Women and Jo March came to mind instantly as I considered writing PEGGY and did my first scratch of research about her: “A wicked wit.” Highly literate. “The favourite at dinner parties” (meaning she speaks up!) Fluent in French. Saves her baby sister from a home invasion. And put down by a guy who thinks she wants to talk politics with men too much.          

Any teenage little sister, overshadowed by vivacious, talented, beautiful older sisters, who’s been left behind as those siblings found beaus or went off to college, can relate to PEGGY’s narrative. As can any teenager who’s had serious doubts about her best friends’ choice in romance.

Peggy will speak to teens who long to join in the national narrative of politics. Teen refugees—and we have many of them here in our country—will recognize the terror Peggy feels as she witnesses New Yorkers fleeing the invading British army, marching south from Canada to Albany.  I hope their friends—if they read PEGGY—will better understand their history and extend more informed compassion as a result. 

Any smart high-schooler or college coed whose male peers are evidently too intimidated by her intellectual prowess to invite her to prom will find a heroine in Peggy, who clearly persisted—even delighted— in speaking her mind even if it put off the guys. Peggy manages to keep an independent feminist ideal within 18th century restrictions of the female sex. And I certainly don’t use this modern-day label, but any teen who’s experienced “ghosting” will also find kick-butt solace in Peggy, I hope.

These themes, these perennial female challenges are the same whether it be 2018 or 1780.  The only real difference—Peggy wears long skirts and a corset and happens to know Alexander Hamilton and George Washington.   

Other Blog Posts


THE FINAL AND OFFICIAL COVER

Posted by laura on April 16, 2018


THE FOURTH COVER OPTIONS

Posted by laura on April 11, 2018


The Room Where Peggy Happened: The Library

Posted by laura on April 9, 2018


The Third Cover Options

Posted by laura on April 8, 2018


THE SECOND COVER OPTIONS

Posted by laura on April 6, 2018


The First Cover Options

Posted by laura on April 4, 2018


HOW A COVER GETS MADE

Posted by laura on April 2, 2018


Guest Blog: Theodosia Writes Me a Letter Every Day...

Posted by laura on March 28, 2018





Lucy Knox: Romantic and Patriot

Posted by laura on March 20, 2018



Happy Birthday, Richard Varick!

Posted by laura on March 15, 2018


Uncle Johnny, the “ Good Dr. Bones”

Posted by laura on March 12, 2018


Peggy as a YA Heroine

Posted by laura on March 7, 2018


Guest Blog: The Power of Letters

Posted by laura on March 5, 2018


Happy Birthday, Baby Caty!

Posted by laura on March 4, 2018



The Power of Historical Fiction for Teens

Posted by laura on February 27, 2018


To the Students of Parkland

Posted by laura on February 26, 2018


Guest Blog: From the Editor, Katherine Tegen

Posted by laura on February 25, 2018


Happy Birthday, Gentleman Johnny!

Posted by laura on February 24, 2018



Peggy's Romantic Life

Posted by laura on February 22, 2018


A Long Song for George Washington

Posted by laura on February 19, 2018


24 hours until Event at Politics and Prose!

Posted by laura on February 18, 2018


Guest Blog: 5 Fun Facts about George Washington

Posted by laura on February 16, 2018


Guest Blog: Historical Galentines!

Posted by laura on February 12, 2018


Fun for Sunday Afternoon!

Posted by laura on February 11, 2018


Countdown to Launch on Galentine’s Day!

Posted by laura on February 9, 2018


Guest Blog: Favorite Sisters in Fiction

Posted by laura on February 7, 2018


Happy Birthday to Aaron Burr, Sir

Posted by laura on February 6, 2018


Guest Blog: Discoveries in the NYPL by Mabel Hsu

Posted by laura on February 5, 2018


Guest Blog: The Creation of a Book Trailer

Posted by laura on February 2, 2018


Today and McCarthy

Posted by laura on February 1, 2018


A Schuyler Sisters Super Bowl

Posted by laura on January 31, 2018


Meet Peggy Schuyler!

Posted by laura on January 28, 2018


The Youngest Soldier of the Revolution

Posted by laura on January 26, 2018


Happy Birthday, Daveed!

Posted by laura on January 24, 2018


Guest Blog from Moxii

Posted by laura on January 21, 2018



Happy Birthday Benedict Arnold - January 14, 1741

Posted by adminC on January 10, 2018


Happy Birthday, Alexander! January 11

Posted by adminC on January 10, 2018


Happy Anniversary George and Martha!

Posted by laura on January 6, 2018


"The Hard Winter" when Peggy met Hamilton

Posted by laura on January 1, 2018


Happy New Year's!

Posted by laura on December 31, 2017


Duck and Cover Mindset

Posted by laura on October 9, 2017


Happy Birthday Fahrenheit 451!

Posted by laura on October 4, 2017


Banned Books & President Eisenhower

Posted by laura on September 28, 2017


Knocked Over By a Feather: McCarthy and Book Burning

Posted by laura on September 24, 2017


Librarians in the Battle of “Fake News”

Posted by laura on September 21, 2017


McCarthy to Trump Connections

Posted by laura on September 19, 2017


Fourth of July....And Peggy!

Posted by laura on July 4, 2017


Coming September 2017: SUSPECT RED

Posted by laura on April 17, 2017


Thoughts on Veteran's Day

Posted by laura on November 11, 2016



Leonardo the Writer

Posted by laura on April 19, 2016


A Live Look at Verrocchio

Posted by laura on April 18, 2016


The Teacher Behind Leonardo

Posted by laura on April 16, 2016


Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!

Posted by laura on April 15, 2016



The Town of Vinci

Posted by laura on April 12, 2016


Leonardo’s Top 5 Most Imaginative Inventions

Posted by laura on April 11, 2016


Valentine's Day During the Renaissance

Posted by laura on February 14, 2016


Valentine's Day Activities!

Posted by laura on February 8, 2016


Historical #WCW: Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted by laura on February 3, 2016


Anniversary of the Joust

Posted by laura on January 29, 2016


Great Falls Friends & Neighbors Event

Posted by laura on January 14, 2016


My New Literary Friends to the North

Posted by laura on January 4, 2016


Ti Amo, Piombino

Posted by laura on December 28, 2015


The Holidays in Renaissance Florence

Posted by laura on December 23, 2015


Florentine Decorations

Posted by laura on December 15, 2015


Just in Time for Holiday Shopping!

Posted by laura on December 4, 2015


A Very Renaissance Thanksgiving

Posted by laura on November 26, 2015


NCTE Thanks

Posted by laura on November 23, 2015


#TBT: Another guest blog!

Posted by laura on November 19, 2015


Guest Blog: Researching DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


NCTE 2015

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


Exciting News!

Posted by laura on November 13, 2015


So What Did Leonardo Really Look Like and Act Like?

Posted by laura on November 9, 2015


Get Your Plato On!

Posted by laura on November 7, 2015


The Ambassador

Posted by laura on November 2, 2015


#TBT: My love of horses

Posted by laura on October 29, 2015


The Lady Behind the Portrait

Posted by laura on October 28, 2015


LORENZO, Il Magnifico: The defacto ruler of Florence

Posted by laura on October 26, 2015


Throwback Thursday: My first trip to Florence

Posted by laura on October 22, 2015


The Kick-Butt Abbess

Posted by laura on October 21, 2015


Santa Croce: The Site of the Joust!

Posted by laura on October 20, 2015


Meet Florence’s “Prince of Youth”

Posted by laura on October 19, 2015


Some Loves Start Early!

Posted by laura on October 15, 2015


The Duomo Bells

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


Leonardo's Other Female Portraits

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


6 Things You May Not Know About Leonardo Da Vinci

Posted by laura on October 12, 2015


Epic Reads Discussion Guide

Posted by laura on October 8, 2015


Talk at the National Gallery of Art!

Posted by laura on October 7, 2015


First Reviews for Da Vinci's Tiger!

Posted by laura on September 27, 2015


NEW COVER for DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on August 13, 2015


YA Sync Free Download of Under a War Torn Sky LIVE!

Posted by laura on August 6, 2015


Mark Your Calendars

Posted by laura on July 6, 2015


The Beauty of Synchronicity

Posted by laura on May 18, 2015


70th Anniversary of VE Day

Posted by laura on May 8, 2015


Why Write A Trilogy?

Posted by laura on April 14, 2015


Valentine's Day

Posted by laura on February 8, 2015


Listening to the Audiobook of Under a War Torn Sky

Posted by laura on February 3, 2015


A Wonderful Fall

Posted by adminC on October 29, 2014


close