Young Adult Literature has often been utilized to explore reader responses especially in attention to how fiction provides space to explore identity and one’s place within a larger societal context. In this duoethnography, we explored the importance of children and young adult literature’s influence on our own identity development. We share our primary findings that highlight the ways reading stories has provided escape, space for self-discovery and questioning, as well as pathways of learning to cultivate empathy and work towards social justice. We agree with Ellis’s (2014) argument that storytellers must share stories in a way that makes lessons or emotional effects apparent–for it is in those effects that we notice our connections to ourselves and others. We therefore share connections between our own experiences and the larger implications of reading young adult fiction as a tool for both individual and collective identity formation.


duoethnography, identity, young adult literature, fiction

Author Bio(s)

Cammie Jo Lawton is a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee in the Literacy Studies program specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. She taught high school English for ten years prior to enrolling at UTK. Her research interests include connections between young adult literature, empathy building, and spiritual/religious formation and exploration. Please direct correspondence to cmcgreev@vols.utk.edu.

Leia K. Cain, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Evaluation, Statistics, and Methodology at the University of Tennessee. In her research, she focuses on the link between researcher identities, ethical decision making, and onto epistemological commitments, as well as LGBTQ+ populations within institutions of higher education. Please direct correspondence to leiacain@utk.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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