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61 pages 2 hours read

Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2015

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Background

Authorial Context: Rebecca Stead and Writing Realistic Fiction for Upper Middle-Grade Readers

Stead believes her highest calling as an author is to tell her readers the truth. When Stead ended her law career after the birth of her second son, it was middle-grade novels that inspired her to become a writer. Marketers use the word “tween” to identify adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14, but the ads for these books target the parents who buy them for their kids. Booksellers report struggling to sell books with 13- and 14-year-old characters because these “tween” books ride the line between middle-grade and young adult, and booksellers are uncertain where to shelve them. Stead dislikes the term “tween” as she feels it is limiting, dismissive, and sexist as it makes upper middle-grade kids sound cute or like “mini” teens. However, young adult novels feature characters that are more like adults than kids and are often unsuitable for younger readers. True middle-grade novels are targeted at kids aged eight to 12, and Stead’s novels fill the gap by focusing more on the upper middle-grade range from 10 to 14. These upper middle-grade books feature at least one high-school-age character and deal frankly with tough topics like current events, divorce, bullying, addiction, and incarceration that might be too much for younger readers.

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