I remember the moment when my mother said to me, “Meg, maybe you should start thinking about checking out some books from the adult section.”  We were standing in the “teen corner” of the Syosset Public Library, which at the time consisted of  just a few stands of shelves, and perhaps the “Hang In There, Baby!” kitten poster.  It was true that I had worked my way through all these books, going from high-school pregnancy (“My Darling, My Hamburger; “Mr. and Mrs. BoJo Jones” to mental illness (“Lisa, Bright and Dark” to drugs (“Go Ask Alice” and “Tuned Out), and now I was basically done.  But instead of starting over, I was supposed to leave this island of emotional disturbance and gallop across the industrial carpeting to… what?  Virginia Woolf?

I didn’t realize, of course, that “adult” fiction was filled with as many messed-up and marginal people as teen fiction was. ( And today, of course, in both categories, they’re all thirsty for human blood.)  Back then, good kids got themselves into bad situations, and I wanted to read about it.  My mother, seeing that I had mastered these absorbing but perhaps not too challenging books, thought I was ready for the next step.  The harder stuff.   It was as if, in her mind, one kind of reading naturally led to another, the way pot led to heroin in the books I liked. But I felt threatened when she wanted me to move on.  I wasn’t ready for the onslaught to adult life and all its unmanageable obligations and strange entanglements.  Everybody talked so much in those books!  They talked and talked about their feelings.  They stared at the sky at dusk.  In a weird way I have never moved on.  I’m sure the teen corner of the Syosset Library is now a veritable space-station of high-tech, and that the “Hang in There, Baby!” poster has been replaced by a 3-D poster of a girl cutting herself.

Though I write “adult” novels, filled with unsatisfied adults who, at least in my upcoming novel “The Uncoupling,” talk about sex the whole time while not actually having it, when I see myself in relation to books–my truest self–it’s me in a Huk-a-oo blouse in the teen corner, reading the same books I’ve read before, which are filled with dangers but feel so very safe.