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Onstage versus Off

rosencrantz-and-guildenstern-are-dead-800-75There’s a line in the play and movie version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard that goes:

We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.

And it got me thinking this morning. That is, I think, the hallmark of a great novel, YA, MG, or otherwise. Reading it, you feel like you’re getting an insight into the characters that you wouldn’t otherwise achieve if they were real people, and you could walk right up to them and ask them a question.

But reading about them, hearing their innermost thoughts — that’s the bit that feels like you’re getting something extra. A bonus feature, so to speak. The bit that usually happens offstage, suddenly front and center.

It’s not just with first person narratives, either, although the effect is often used to great affect in those books. What are some of your favorite books that hint at the characters’ deep and involving “offstage” lives?

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