Kenneth B. Kidd argues that often “children’s literature of atrocity turns away from rather than confronts the difficulties of its subject matter, opting for simplistic narratives” (185). Responding to Kidd’s invitation for others to “trouble and enrich” (205) his account of trauma in children’s and young adult literature, this thesis conducts three case studies that portray complex depictions. It examines genre restrictions, the vagueness of the word “trauma,” and the place of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and Freud in trauma narratives for young readers.
In its analysis, the thesis uses the diagnostic tools of the DSM-IV-TR, Freudian theories, and close readings to investigate the representations of trauma.
The thesis demonstrates that narratives about trauma for young readers are simultaneously complex and hopeful (as per genre expectations). Confronting difficult subject matter, these books equip readers with the political insights needed to recognize and change similar conditions in their own lives.