Carolyn Mackler’s Portrait by Sonya Sones
Carolyn Mackler does not seek for inspiration in unrealistic dreams; she has enough more accessible sources. In her numerous interviews, she confesses she records teens speaking in buses or on the subway. She carefully listens to teenagers in cafes or in Central Park, where she takes long walks to keep her ideas clear. She reads teen blogs and journals, chats with her step-sister and tracks the latest research related to teen issues with the sole purpose to write the best young adult novels she can. All in all, she is a great achiever, and it explains her recognition and success.
As a result of this hard job and constant observations, Carolyn Mackler is widely known for her teen literature. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Love and Other Four-Letter Words, Vegan, Virgin, Valentine, and other novels attract many teenage readers and critics all over the world. One of the greatest appraisals the author has is the Michael L. Printz Honor given to her for “the Excellence in Young Adult Literature” after the publication of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, as it is stated in Mackler’s interview by Warsett. The same honored book created resonance; accepted by critics, it was heavily criticized by parents and was banned in 2006 because of inappropriate content in Carroll County in Maryland. According to Warsett, it was a great shock for Mackler, but that ban played its role and the book became even more popular.
The main reason why Mackler writes teenage novels is hidden in her own biography. She was born on July 13, 1973, in Manhattan, grew up a little and went to kindergarten. When she was a child, she had two greatest passions which included reading and writing. Of course, reading came first. She read Baum’s The Wizard of Oz when she was 4 and that initiated her long-lasting reading hobby. The same year, Mackler became a vegetarian. Since then she read more books than any other ordinary child; the novels by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary invited her to their amazing world and she moved there happily. Recollecting her childhood in autobiography, she mentions that she “lived in fiction more than reality”.
Things changed dramatically when Mackler became a teenager. She lost the moment when all her peers changed their interests and remained committed to reading. She had a poor social life at school, but when she came home she was lucky to have a cup of hot chocolate with snacks and ran upstairs to read one more teenage novel. Books created a safe shelter for her; she could experience all the feelings she lacked or find an answer to fundamental teenage questions. Her best friend Stephie, who was her neighbor, spent much time with Mackler when they were teenagers.
As mentioned by Mackler in her autobiography, thanks to Stephie, Mackler finally changed in high school and integrated into her community better. She learned to ski, had her first boyfriend and listened to George Michael as any other person of her age around. Life went on; Mackler entered Vassar College and chose Art History as her major. She had a part-time job in a café and traveled around the country. Divorce of her parents became a great tragedy for her as she perceived it as the full stop in her childhood. She went to study in Paris and came back to the USA as a totally new person, thanks to Jenny, she knew a friend, who supported Mackler in that critical period. This was how Carolyn Mackler became an adult.
Becoming older, Mackler never forgot her love for teenage literature. Her high school, college and later years were full of favorite YA authors; they reminded her happy and safe childhood, family and friendships. YA literature inspired her to start writing. When she was 14, she wrote only in her diary. Later she started writing short stories and poetry. She had a great idea to write a teenage novel herself because she had so many stories to share. She failed to find an appropriate job after graduation, but life misfortune did not demotivate her. She signed the class “Beginning your first Novel” and wrote it as a result. Love and Other Four-Letter Words was published in 2000, but it was only the beginning.
Mackler’s life took a different turn after the publication of her first novel. She found her love Jonas in the same block she lived in Manhattan. Soon they married, and Mackler wrote her second book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. The birth of her first son coincided with the publication of Vegan, Virgin, Valentine. One more book was published when her second son was born. Jonas, as a devoted husband, helps Mackler to structure her day and motivates her by “stars and ice cream”, as Mackler mentioned in the interview for BookPage®. Family comfort and love inspire Mackler to write more; she spends hours at her work desk situated in her bedroom close to the window, writing her next bestseller.
“Carolyn Mackler”. Walker. 2013. Web. March 19, 2014.
Castellitto, Linda M. and Carolyn Mackler. “Carolyn Mackler: Mastering the mysteries of teen-speak”. BookPage®. August, 2004. Web. March 19, 2014.
Mackler, Carolyn. “Unofficial Bio/Life Story”. 2014. Web. March 20, 2014.
Sones, Sonya. “Carolyn Mackler”. Photo. Jun 28, 2009.
Warsett, Gili and Carolyn Mackler. “An Interview with Carolyn Mackler”. Bookslut. December 2009. Web. March 20, 2014.