1. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adult books from a child's POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chinspinner, Feb 21, 2015.

    I mean adult in the innocent, non-porn sense.

    On my current WIP it has transpired that of the several POVs I intended to use, my child character's POV is most suitable in many circumstances (for a variety of reasons I won't get into).

    So I was trying to think if there are many books aimed for adults from a child's POV. I haven't researched this but the following instantly sprang to mind: -
    • To Kill a Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies (is this omniscient?), which everyone reads in their lower teens regardless of the market they were aiming for.
    • Lord of the Rings. Hobbits are children for all intents and purposes (and thinking about this it may be omniscient). But again it is one of those novels people tend to read at a fairly young age.
    • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Life of Pi but these have strong gimmicks (wrong word I know), which tend to filter the POV.
    • and a whole plethora of children's and YA books that adults read, but aren't marketed at them (or are indirectly marketed at them).
    Can a child's POV realistically work in an adult novel?
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  2. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I would think so, yes.

    A child's POV is one of the most interesting ones in my own opinion. They see the world through a different kind of filter than adults do, and I think it's a way of looking at the world that can really give you a new perspective on life.
     
  3. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    A Song of Fire and Ice features several "children" with POVs. Arya is probably the best of them.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    An Episode of Sparrows, which I keep using as an example for all sorts of things. It seems to be sold right now as a children's book, but I don't see it that way.

    Oh, and Martha Grimes' Emma Graham mysteries.

    And The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and the rest of that series.

    Yeah, I think that a child's POV can work just fine in books for adults.
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    He said "adult books" :0
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Those are also read at young age but it seems more written for an adult as far as I can remember
     
  7. plothog
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    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. The narrator is the adult version of the POV character, but you get a really strong sense of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
     
  8. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some interesting suggestions of books here, I'll have to check a few of them out.

    @Dunning Kruger I read the first two George RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Martin books (can't even remember what they were called) and yes they did have some child POVs, but I barely remember them. In fact those books really didn't leave much of an impression on me at all now I think about it, but then I have never liked that sort of epic sword and sorcery stuff.

    An Episode of Sparrows certainly sounds interesting.

    @123456789 embarrassingly I haven't read either. Twain just seems to be one of those authors I by-passed.

    @plothog I've read quite a bit of Gaiman, but not this one. I might pick it up.
     
  9. Kasubi
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    Kasubi Member

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    One of my personal favourites is The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman by Withnail and I author Bruce Robinson.

    Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran is another novel written for adults but told from a child's perspective, even if the child seems older than her years.

    As you mention, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is another beacon of the genre.

    A child's perspective works fine so long as you don't infantilize it. Childhood is rarely idyllic, and children often see more than adults give them credit for. If you idolise childhood as something that is sweet and easy, it won't work. Fill it full of confusion, misunderstandings and Buddha-like moments of transcendental wisdom and you might just nail it ;)
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with writing from a child's POV is that a child won't have the experience and maturity and related language abilities to communicate what you want to communicate to an adult audience. So the books that use child protagonists almost always use an older child/teen, AND that teen is noted to be very precocious, thereby having a particularly advanced awareness of interpersonal relationships and understanding of the world for the age. Some books solve this problem by having the adult character relaying the earlier story.

    How old is the child in your story? It can be done, but it is tricky. I believe that ROOM did this.
     
  11. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I read a book recently, Ellen In Pieces, which has a chapter written from a young boys POV that was very effective.
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was thinking of Room, too, and to me it only worked some of the times. At other times, the narrator felt too precocious, which I think is a common challenge for books like this.
     
  13. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Room definitely springs to mind, but the problem there is the child has no knowledge of the world and a very limited vocabulary, but it's good all the same. I think he's only meant to be six-ish.

    The Boy Who Could See Demons is also very good, the child in that is ten and describes some pretty nasty stuff so understands more, but still carries a childs view of the world.

    Going of piste slightly, Among the Sleep is a game from the point of view of a very small child. It involves more imagination but equally some really dark stuff.
     
  14. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You would want to check out some of the Sandra Kring novels, especially The Book of Bright Ideas. It's from a child's perspective/POV but an adult novel. The same with Carry Me Home, which starts with a young teen (mentally retarded--in the 1940s language), but his thoughts and notions are more those of a 3rd grader, and it's from his first person POV.
     

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