Neverwhere

March 14, 2008 at 4:28 pm 2 comments

I loved this book, and I have a feeling plenty of young adults would as well. It has adventure, fantasy, comedy, violence, sex, and a young woman with remarkable powers–what’s not to like?

To piggy-back on my last entry, this book also makes a lot of sense to me as a reading for Constructive Use of Time. Richard Mayhew leads what on the surface looks like a very proper, constructive life–good job, lovely fiancee, cultural excursions (whether he likes them or not). But it’s not until he inadvertently enters an entirely different world that he realizes how unfulfilling his life is, and will always be, in London Above.

After finishing Neverwhere, I realized that the opposite of time well-spent isn’t necessarily time wasted, but rather time spent differently. The list of developmental assets seems to paint a world that is very black and white. Young adults either feel safe at home and at school, or they feel unsafe. Communities either value youth, or don’t. But life just isn’t that simple! I think we really need to expand our understanding of what is truly “constructive.” Jessica saw Richard trying to help a bleeding girl on the street, and all she saw was her fiance ruining his shirt and dinner with a powerful man. She couldn’t see that he was putting the well-being of another person ahead of his professional advancement, and in turn opening up a whole new world to himself.

When we see young adults “goofing off,” do we just see kids wasting time, making a ruckus or ignoring their schoolwork? Or can we look past our preconceived notions and see teenagers falling in love, discovering new music, and percolating ideas?

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. linaria  |  March 15, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Neverwhere was one of my very favorite books in high school. I’ve always loved the way Gaiman portrays the difficulties of life–not as black or white as a lot of typical fantasy. Differently, like you say, not better or worse. Much more ambiguous. Though–the original BBC television production is…not so good. Same with the new film version of Stardust—they Hollywoodized it, gave it a kind of “happily ever after” ending which the book didn’t really have.

    Reply
  • 2. Linda  |  March 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    The constructive use of time comments of course, well of course from my perspective, makes me think of how librarians judge what teens do when online. In a school setting librarians often say that computers can only be used for homework/research. But, how do we define that when a more open approach to constructive use of time is taken seriously? Who is to say that going to MySpace and writing a message to a friend doesn’t have some connection to homework or learning? Is it entirely unconstructive even if there is on specific homework connection in that MySpace use?

    Being judgmental is dangerous and to broadly generalize, this is something that librarians have to be most careful of.

    Reply

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