There are a few landmarks in adults reading young adult books.
The point where the reader is older than the teens in the book, usually by a few years.
The point where the reader is the same age as the parents. The PARENTS.
Peter Sieruta at Collecting Children’s Books explored this even further in his post, “Luke, I Am Your Father.” “But You’re Not OLD ENOUGH to Be Luke’s Father!” : “I read these paragraphs with a smile and a nod of recognition. It happens to all of us adult readers of children’s books at some point, doesn’t it? You know what I’m talking about. That dreaded moment when you realize that you are the same age — or even older than! — the parents of the protagonist in the book you’re reading.”
To quote Sarah and make this post all about MEEEEE and reading, often the age of parents isn’t mentioned. Readers like myself can read along all la-la-la about ages. But sometimes the ages are mentioned and it’s all “la la la WHAT.” It’s especially ego-bruising when the teen characters are thinking of their parents as old, or middle aged, or out of touch, or (fill in the blank) and the parents are younger than me or not that much older.
That said, let’s make this into the books with your favorite portrayals of parents.
My choice is easy: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta. Dominick Mackee, Tom’s father — I love him almost as much as I love Tom. Dom is flawed; he’d been a terrific father, husband, friend, and yes he had a few too many drinks now and then, but the death of his younger brother destroyed him. In The Piper’s Son, he is slowly working his way back into his family and to his friends, and the compassion with which Marchetta treats Dom is stunning. Tom, yes, is angry at his father and the anger, disappointment, and hurt fly off the page; but so too does the desperate love and the fact that Dom’s goodness is not erased by his flaws. He is not defined by his weakness.