You’re reading a book. You’re minding your own business. But you don’t see it coming, until . . .
Second-person point of view smacks you upside the head and you realize you are in the story!
1st-person Point of View:
In middle-grade, tons of authors use first-person POV. A character in the story acts as the narrator, telling about his or her own experiences.
I learned something on the first day of fifth grade—never mess with a girl who can break 1-inch boards with her elbow.
3rd-person Point of View:
Third-person POV is also popular, using an outside narrator to tell what happens to the characters.
Kaylie knew it was going be a rough day when she woke up with a chicken standing on her forehead. And she knew it was going to be a really rough day once the chicken started pecking.
2nd-person Point of View:
So . . . how about second-person POV, where the author acts like the reader is a part of the action? Well, there’s not much out there.
When you ran away, the toughest thing about using a bus was all the waiting.
Second-person POV got stuck in my head recently (a scary place to be!) because I was reading Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger. From chapter to chapter, Stead used alternating viewpoints throughout the novel, with one of the viewpoints written entirely in second-person. I found the POV to be both surprising and refreshing!
And, of course, this got me thinking: What other middle-grade books are written in second-person point of view?
As this question percolated, my first thought was a blast from my childhood past—the Choose Your Own Adventure series.
Then I thought of an ongoing nonfiction series that I’ve found many middle-grade students really enjoy—the You Wouldn’t Want to . . . series.
And then . . .
That was it.
One middle-grade novel, a nonfiction series, and then a fiction series first published when I was still in elementary school. (And let me tell you—that whole in-elementary-school thing was a few decades ago.)
Now I’ll admit—there are plenty of middle-grade books that occasionally address the reader directly (such as Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt). There just aren’t many that fully immerse the reader in that viewpoint. So . . .
Know of any other middle-grade books where the author uses second-person POV to put you into the story? If so, you can post in the comments below.
Along with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.
It’s true that 2nd POV is very rare, but can be powerful. The first book I ever read using it was DAMAGE by A.M. Jenkins and I was wowed. The MC is a high school football player and the story is absorbing and heart-wrenching actually.
I’m currently reading GOODBYE STRANGER – but almost done! Those 2nd POV sections are very intriguing. 🙂
I have never read a book in second-person PoV. A friend told me about Tim Robbins Still Life with Woodpecker which is written that way. He told me it was exhausting to read. I’ve just never gotten around to it. I do love Rebecca Stead’s writing, so maybe I will try hers instead.
Rosi, I definitely recommend the Rebecca Stead book. Second-person POV can make for a strange read, but it seemed to work well for GOODBYE STRANGER since it was only used for one of the alternating viewpoints. Thus, I never felt trapped in that POV for long. Hope you enjoy it!