#YASaves…Count Me In

There has been a lot going on around the internet these days regarding the story in the Wall St. Journal written my  Meghan Cox Gurdon about YA being too dark and scary for teens and how we should be writing fluff instead.  If this were a fluffy world we lived in, I might be down with that.  But, it’s not.  It’s dark, scary, and uncertain…even for adults. 

I usually don’t like talking about stories like this because their only purpose is to stir up controversy.  In this case, to bring a pathetic, dying newspaper back to life.

I read this rebuttal by Sherman Alexie and decided to delete my hotheaded response on my blog.  Why?  Because Mr. Alexie handled it.  My favorite lines…

When some cultural critics fret about the “ever-more-appalling” YA books, they aren’t trying to protect African-American teens forced to walk through metal detectors on their way into school. Or Mexican-American teens enduring the culturally schizophrenic life of being American citizens and the children of illegal immigrants. Or Native American teens growing up on Third World reservations. Or poor white kids trying to survive the meth-hazed trailer parks. They aren’t trying to protect the poor from poverty. Or victims from rapists.

No, they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.

So true.  I don’t think I could’ve put it more eloquently.  In fact, I was ready to go off on a tirade, but I’m glad that I waited for someone with a much more level head than me to respond.  After all, I was one of those kids who went to a school on the wrong side of town and would’ve given my right arm for a metal detector.  Unfortunately, nobody cared or rather, they cared more about the privileged kids and their feelings about the forced busing then the rest of us poor cretins who obviously didn’t matter. 

And the line that made me smile…

I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often written with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.

I am so getting a copy of this guy’s book.  🙂  But, I should be thankful to the WSJ for one thing.  They’ve made me more determined than ever to purchase a copy of Jackie Morse Kessler’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, too.   😈

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5 thoughts on “#YASaves…Count Me In

  1. I agree completely! He handled that quite wonderfully. You know my personal quote on my website. 😉 I had this discussion on a writer’s website years ago about why I and others write horror. 😀

    • When I was a teenager, I read so much Stephen King I didn’t get a good night’s sleep for years. I also read trashy romance stuff, like Jackie Collins, and emotionally tough stuff, like Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. It never occurred to me or my parents that there should be a separate, sanitized section of books for my impressionable young mind. If it made it to the library or a friend’s bookshelf, that was good enough.

      I’m a slightly more pushy with my own kids. But it’s more because I have things I want them to read than things I want them to avoid. Whether or not the books wear a YA label doesn’t matter much to me.

      • LOL! Candance, that was me with John Saul. I *love* his stuff and couldn’t get enough of it. He was the only writer I read. I did try Little Women, which is a fabulous story, but it wasn’t the same and related less to my reality.

        I agree with you about the YA label. That never mattered to me either. I read anything that sounded good. My biggest hope is to get to a point where my daughter and I can talk about what she/we read.

    • Yes, and I *love* your quote. My escape was movies that most parents might have issues with letting their children watch today. Not my mom. She watched them for the same reason I did. We wanted an escape, but for different reasons.

      • Difficult books and movies can actually bring kids and their parents together. I wonder how many of these parents ever tried actually talking to their kids about these subjects? It’s the same mentality that leads people to believe that abstinence-only education will work. What, if we don’t think about these issues maybe they’ll just go away? Nope. They won’t.

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