The family and adolescent wellbeing

alternative models of adolescent growth in the novels of Judith Clarke

Adrielle Britten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


YA fiction is largely about adolescent maturation - or flourishing - and in Western narratives this is imagined through narratives of growth. Within the institution of the family, growth is typically imagined in YA fiction in terms of adolescent rebellion, and in this frame the institutions that surround adolescents - schools, families, communities - tend to be depicted as repressive. This article explores an alternative view of the institution of the family offered in Judith Clarke's novels. In One Whole and Perfect Day, for example, adolescents flourish when in families that value mutual care above conformity to normative views of what a family should be; in Night Train, adolescents fail to flourish when sufficient (or 'good enough') family caring is not available to them. This article draws on research in cognitive narratology and the interdisciplinary field of wellbeing studies to suggest that Clarke's novels model a kind of caring - 'good enough' caring - which entails a nuanced view of successful maturation that carefully holds in balance both the fragility of the individual and an optimistic view of caring for others. Such balance is essential for the flourishing of adolescents and, indeed, of people of all ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Research in Children's Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Blending
  • Cognitive narratology
  • Emotion
  • Flourishing
  • Judith Clarke

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