By Cassandra Clare
For the Wall Street Journal Speakeasy
Opening the door of an ordinary wardrobe takes you to a world where it is always winter and never Christmas.
Being a teenager is being caught between two worlds, occupying a liminal space where you’re not quite a child and not quite an adult. The concept of adolescence is a modern one — in earlier times, teenagers would be marrying, fighting and dying like adults, and today’s teens yearn for that adult power (making your own decisions!), while at the same time being afraid of it (enormous responsibilities come with adulthood). These days, adolescence is considered training wheels for adulthood, a time through which you must be guided and protected from too much autonomy.
But like any other training wheels, the training wheels of adolescence are irksome and teens can’t wait to get rid of them — to get on that bike and ride. The category of young adult fantasy books reflects that tension. In many YA fantasies, there is a hidden world, usually secret from ordinary people and most adults, where magic reigns and the kids are the ones with the power.
Cassandra Clare is the author of “Clockwork Prince.”