There are multiple reasons why readers read. For some, it's to have an escape. For others, it's purely for enjoyment. Yet for more readers, it's about finding a connection with a character.
This is especially prevalent in young adult literature. Most who read YA are at an age where there are a lot of questions, doubts, insecurities and worries about the world around them. This is especially true for those who have trouble dealing with family at home or feeling out of place at school- or both.
YA fiction serves as a guide to those who feel this way. The characters produced from such works can be a lighthouse in the middle of a stormy ocean, showing the reader a way to find his/her own inner strength to help cope with such problems.
One fantastic YA read is by Paula Danziger and is called "The Cat Ate My Gymsuit."
This story follows a middle-school girl, Marcy Lewis, as she battles her hatred for gym class (among other things). She's shy, ashamed of her weight and doesn't have many friends at school. Even her only friend, Nancy, told Marcy they only hung out together because Nancy's mother told her to.
Marcy's troubles don't stop when she gets back from school. At home, she deals with a verbally abusive father who argues constantly with her mother. She also has a younger brother whom she feels she needs to cheer up when their parents are arguing.
Sessions with her therapist don't seem to help. Most of the time, Marcy dealt with her problems by stashing sweets and goodies into her drawers in her bedroom and eating when she felt sad.
Thankfully, her year began to turn around when an unorthodox, cheerful teacher came into Marcy's English classroom. Ms. Finney listened to her students and, though her teaching methods were less than traditional, most of her students gained a great deal of knowledge from her.
Thanks to Ms. Finney, Marcy was also able to cope with her problems better by knowing how best to articulate them in written form. She also became more outgoing and befriended a boy named Joel who seemed to have an attraction to her.
However, Ms. Finney's methods weren't attracting only her students' attentions. The principal also took notice of the fact that Ms. Finney wouldn't say the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom and offered to have her fired.
It was through Ms. Finney's trial that Marcy (with her mother) stood in front of her peers and elders and found the strength to protest her teacher's firing. Though Ms. Finney didn't return to the school in the end, Marcy learned more than she ever thought she would.
The transformation Marcy goes through in this book is simply astounding. She's a great example of a round, dynamic character because she experiences such an amazing turnaround by the end of the book. She proves to herself, her peers and (most importantly) the readers, that she was able to find her inner strength and improve her life as best she could.
This is such a great book for kids (especially girls) who may be dealing with weight issues, problems at home, or feeling invisible when they're at school. The writing is witty and really drives home important points that are pivotal in understanding what Marcy's story is really about.