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Grotesque Horror Through A Kid-Sized Window

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Grotesque Horror Through A Kid-Sized Window

Grotesque Horror Through A Kid-Sized Window

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, the latest in our book series, PG-13. When author Erin Morgenstern discovered Stephen King and his very adult novel, "It," she wasn't quite 13 but she was eager for a window into the world of grownups. What she didn't expect was that she'd still be thinking about the book decades later.

ERIN MORGENSTERN: There are still days when it rains and I can see him - a boy in a yellow raincoat chasing a paper boat down the street. His name is Georgie and he is about to meet a gruesome fate smiling up at him from a storm drain. I remember thinking: You can die from having your arm ripped off? Because that's what struck me as odd, not the fact that he was grabbed by a clown waiting in the sewer.

The first time I read "It," I was around 12, about the same age as Georgie's older brother, Bill. The story is about how Bill and his friends have to face down a child-murdering, shape-shifting, evil thing in small town Maine.

When I was growing up, if there was a Young Adult section of my town's library, I missed it. I wandered right from "The Babysitter's Club" over to Stephen King. His books were big and fat and they seemed important. I eventually worked my way through most of the shelf, but "It" is the one that stuck with me. Some of it went way over my head, but there's something thrilling in that.

It showed me that the things hiding under your bed and lurking in the sewers don't disappear just because you grow up. Beyond the arm-ripping violence, beyond the sex that made me think: People like to do that? Beyond philosophical ideas about good and evil in turtles, "It" let me stand at the edge of adulthood and realize that being a grownup is not that much different than being a kid; that life is a bigger, fatter, stranger book than the ones I was used to, but I could still turn its pages, one after another.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: Erin Morgenstern is the author of "The Night Circus." She recommended the book "It" by Stephen King. You can find more PG-13 recommendations at our website. There's also a list of summer reads from our critics and correspondents at NPRBooks.org.

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