An Open Letter to Choose Your Own Adventure Novels

By Bailey O'Boyle on December 14, 2017

“Dear Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novels and other similar type novels (e.g Give Yourself Goosebumps!),

I think our relationship is a unique one. It’s been a while since I’ve known your embrace, and probably a decade since you’ve felt my hungry eyes, scanning your pages for more details about my grizzly fate.

I would classify our relationship as a love hate one. I’ve missed your way with words. But at the same time, I can’t say every memory is fond. I think it would be healthy to exercise my thoughts, so I can truly get over you.

Let us start with the bad, because I do not think I can hold in my feelings any longer. You were absolutely infuriating with your almost cheesy ways to bring about my demise. Sometimes it would be trusting the friendly wizards, in which I understand, you want to teach children about stranger danger. But the fact I’ve been brought to a premature ending over choosing the left path instead of the right makes my blood boil.

You’ve spanned over almost every setting imaginable and fascinated my imagination, and yet despite the fact that we’ve ventured into space, the Wild West, and even into the eldritch horror filled landscape known as Des Moines, Iowa, I always seem to find my end at a big hole. You have access to every threat in the universe and you can’t seem to get past just a big ol’ hole. I get it, I hate heights and big pits sure are simple, but truly you can do better.

But… you helped me through so much. Growing up as a kid with the Lord of the Rings movie, there was nothing to bridge the gap between fantasy epics for adults and the fairy tales for children. To me, you were that perfect bridge to more adult reading and morbid themes with your often fatality laid pages.

I had trouble reading any book. I was a selfish kid. I couldn’t relate to another character, didn’t matter if they were the same gender, background, height and hair colour, they weren’t ME. Books needed to be about ME. So when you came around in your perfect glory, to me you were everything I wanted and I could dream my life was more exciting than suburban boredom. My life was as plain as the fields of Des Moines, Iowa.

So thank you Choose your Own Adventure books. You were perfect for me back then. But I have grown up. I’m stronger now… I’ve grown. You stayed the same. The Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults is called Life, and there’s no immediate notification you’ve made a wrong choice. It’s still strange and scary but I will figure it out. Life’s strange but…we all have to live it. Like we all have to go through a road trip through Des Moines, Iowa because of course Auntie Carol moved there. Of course she did.

Sorry for everything… I have to move on. It’s not you, it’s me.

Have a nice life,

Bailey O.”

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