I occasionally read young adult fiction, sometimes because my kids are reading something, sometimes because I like to imagine what such fiction would be like for French West African readers. I finished Every Day by David Levithan over a couple of nights. A difficult premise. A teen- naming himself A- inhabits the body of a different teen upon waking. Groundhog Day but each time in a different body. Levithan elides the whole problem of how a “person” could survive that kind of “trauma” in early childhood. To his credit, he does some hand-waving and winking at the reader: “C’mon, you can’t really expect me to figure that one out.” Fair enough. Everyone knows time-travel fiction suffers from similar problems that require suspension of critical faculties.
Even for me, this was pretty moralizing fiction, though. The bodies that A cycles through have back stories straight out of a catalog of teen types, and each one is treated fairly, honestly, and compassionately. It gets a trifle treacly as you move through the book.
So what would this look like in Burkina Faso?! That’s the thing. Exactly the same. The issues that teens face are the same anywhere: Who am I? Why are my parents jerks? Why does nobody like me? Why don’t I like anyone? How can I fly away? I hope someday to see the Burkinabè version.